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Dine Online Holiday Guide 1999

Vincenzo D'Antonio is our guide to out of the way places in the bay of Naples. This takes in Naples itself of course, and the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as the Sorrentino Peninsular with Sorrento, and the magical island of Capri. In this article, Vincenzo urges us to get out of the tourist rut and risk going to a rather undistinguished little place called Sant'Anastasia.

Where is Sant'Anastasia?

Sant'Anastasia, a small town, is near Naples at the foot of Vesuvius.

Is it a nice place ?!

No, it isn't! And why should we go to Sant'Anastasia ?

What a simple answer: because at Sant'Anastasia there is a restaurant named E Curti! It's difficult enough for Italians not born in the South of Italy to know what the name E Curti means, because it's a typical word of our local Neapolitan language. So, imagine how much more difficult it is to translate it to English; anyway we say that "E Curti" means people that aren't exactly giants. On the other hand, maybe after all they are tall, not as measured by feet and inches, but in their souls and in their hearts which are by no means curtailed.

In this case, E Curti means a small, delicious restaurant sited in the old part of Sant'Anastasia. Only one room, only ten tables! We must reserve; it's mandatory on Saturday and it's sensible to do so on other days. Maybe on Sunday you may avoid reservation: it's closing day! We knock at the door-bell and the glass door is opened by Signor Carmine, the white haired proprietor, who shows us in with a " Sit down, please!"

Let's begin with a dish that you'll remember for ever: mushrooms and beans. Never have I seen these two foods sleeping together in the same plate and begetting so delicious a flavour. My favourite problem, how to choose the right wine: mushrooms don't want wine, but beans don't mind an appropriate glass. Carmine lets you see which bottles of wine he has got on his trolley. Here you may drink a glass of wine without buying the whole bottle! Very often I like to change wines with each dish. This time the problem is solved thanks to Casalferro '96, the best Sangiovese wine of Italy, produced by Castello di Brolio Ricasoli. Casalferro won the award of 3 glasses from Gambero Rosso. This award usually means we're talking about a great wine. We sniff, we taste: yes, it is so!

We are already enjoying ourselves! Signor Carmine is the decision maker of our lunch; it's the best practice, trust me! Signor Carmine suggests and we accept.

We continue with a wonderful dish of maccheroncelli in lambkin sauce with green peas and potatoes. My fingers are hitting the keyboard while my mouth and my brain are remembering the tastes of that wonderful dish. Lambkin must be just born no more than several days old, fed only with its mother's milk. These lambkins grow in the hills of Sannio, a proud region in the hinterland of Campania. Only hills, rivers, and several small towns. We change glasses, and call for a different wine, but don't change colour. Let's go on with Gravello, a red wine from the Southern part of Italy, the eastern part of Calabria once named Magna Grecia. Gravello is made from the Gaglioppo grape - whose ancestry is believed to be Greek - only a mere four thousand years old! This particular Gravello also won a three glasses award from Gambero Rosso. If we'd had our hats on we'd have stood up and doffed them!

Having tasted the flavour of lamkin with our pasta we're now ready to eat the tender meat of the lambkin for our second course, with more delicious sauce: heaven! We asked for more Gravello; Sorry, says Carmine, we'd already finished the last bottle. For another, we must wait until next fall and let's hope we'll find it.

Now we're waiting for a surprise dessert. Today it is a cream puff of nuts. Only one: ok two; three and stop. Four, no more! And what do we drink? Wonderful! We drink home made nut liqueur called nocillo and, really, we cannot translate nocillo. Nocillo is the soul of this earth. The nuts come from Vesuvius and Vesuvius is the mountain of Sant'Anastasia. Only one small glass; ok one other and stop. The third: stop, really! Signor Carmine is very kind. He accepts our congratulations and tells us our thanks are for his wife Signora Angiolina and his sister Signora Assuntina. They are the queens of his kitchen.

For the nut liqueur we thank Vincenzo (my namesake), who is Carmine and Angiolina's son. He's a very young man and is already able to produce the best nocillo I've ever drunk. Vincenzo and his workers must shake nuts down from the trees at sunset on 24th June.

The bill is about comes to about 16 pounds and those wines are a pound a glass.

So, is Sant'Anastasia a nice place?
Yes, I suggest it is, if you love good food and great wine.
And nocillo!

Ciao! Vincenzo D'Antonio [Who drove home? -Ed]

Padre Michele Abete Street
SANT'ANASTASIA 13 km from Naples
Phone no. 0039 81 8972821

Map of the region:alt ="click for map"

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