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Dine Online Holiday Guide 1999

Get away from the tourist trap at Ristorante Nonna Rosa

Vincenzo d'Antonio, our man in the Bay of Naples, reveals another hidden treasure in Vico Equense

Vico Equense - do you remember?! - The gate of Penisola Sorrentina, the country with 13 hamlets, . . . Ok, ok, you're clever, I see you know, I see you remember.

This time we stop at the first hamlet on the way towards the mountain. It's called Pietrapiano - meaning "slowstone!" So please, slow must be our rythm. We're beginning our lunch at just after noon and we'll reach the end around four pm. The restaurant is named Nonna Rosa. It is located upstairs, with a wide hall, where sometimes in the holidays there are two extra tables, and behind, a larger room with twelve tables.

Signor Peppe is the chef and the patron. His mother is Nonna Rosa. Signora Elena is Peppe's wife, and she looks after the customers and can suggest our dishes. She is becoming a sommelier, and has already completed the first stage.

We don't ask for any antipasti, they are coming soon without asking. Bruschette with an olive paste, with sweet and small tomatoes, with egg-plant in oil. Bruschette are slices of grilled bread flavoured by rubbing a clove of garlic.

Let's begin by choosing some wine. Signora Elena proposed Asprinio di Aversa, a sharp white wine. The brisk citrus flavour is very nice because the wine is a bit sparkling and goes well with bruschette. It is produced by Cantine Grotta del Sole.

Let's make merry, and tuck into the first course. Peppe is the king of scialatielli. I cannot translate scialatielli. I can help you to find Vico Equense, Pietrapiano and Nonna Rosa, but I'm not able to translate scialatielli. Translation is not very important. It's very important to taste it. Scialatielli are spaghetti like but they are handmade and we cook it fresh, not bought in shop.

Which sauces ?!? You can take your sauce as you like.

  • Scialatielli with mushrooms and spungiti (small and sweet tomatoes)
  • Scialatielli with provola and egg-plant
  • Scialatielli with shell-fish;
  • Scialatielli with sage, bacon and lemon.

    Pay attention: lemon means tiny particles of the yellow peel of the lemon, grated just a moment before impiattare. Impiattare is when you put the scialatielli in the dishes. This dish satisfies the eyes, the nose and the palate. But if you don't you want scialatielli - don't worry - Signor Peppe is a great chef - try his Agnolotti al pesto with nuts. Poetry!

    Living in the bay of Naples is like dwelling at home with a view from the terrace. So from this terrace, when home is at Vico Equense, we can look across to the vines of the wine we are drinking with scialatielli. Coste di Cuma is also produced by Cantine Grotta del Sole and it is a particular cru of Falanghina. A small production, only twelve thousands of bottles - rare to find, good to drink.

    Often, not always, we find on the trolley at the centre of the room, the sfasella of fresh fish. Sfasella is a large basket where fishermen put fishes to bring to their key clients. Only fresh fish! (it isn't coming by plane), not only fresh, but fished in this our own sea!

    So for our second course we have Fritto misto or fry of trawler: crawfish, squid, small cod. With fish, white wine: are you sure?! Signora Elena suggests Lettere by Cantine Grotta del Sole. It's a red wine, very young, we are drinking the 1998, and it's very good with fried fish.

    After this we need to cleanse the palate. We need cheese. Over a large lemon-leaf there is a wide slice of fior di latte, a fresh cow's milk cheese. The lemon-leaf is the dish of the fior di latte and, together, they are smoothly grilled. The smell of lemon is married with the fior di latte and the moment is delicious.

    Now we leave the bay of Naples for wine and we have a speed trip to Franciacorta, in the northern part of Italy. Signora Elena uncorks a bottle of Franciacorta Saten produced by Monte Rossa. The wine is served in a flute glass, of course. We scutinise the bubbles. This wine was awarded 2 glasses from Gambero Rosso. Another good marriage.

    To the surprise of everybody, Signor Peppe comes out of his kitchen, receives our praises and proposes his help to take cakes.
    Cooked cream with shower of hot chocolate. Great!
    No, we cannot drink wine. So, Signor Peppe and his wife put on the table a lot of small glasses and several bottles of Rosolio. We tasted rosolio di finocchietto. A sweet flavour and a good digestif.

    The bill comes to Lire 60,000 per person - wine included. By now it's late: five minutes after four: not sunset, but almost.

    Vincenzo D'Antonio February 1999

    Nonna Rosa
    Frazione: Pietrapiano
    tel. 0039 81 8799055

    Useful Links:
    Ristorante Nonna Rosa Website

    Vico Equense web site

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