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Zi Caterina, Pompeii

Vincenzo d'Antonio has some sound advice!

Pompeii is unique in the world and, obviously, it deserves a visit. Never be in a hurry when you go to Pompeii. My personal advice is very hard, I know: first of all you go to Pompeii; the following day you go to Naples to visit the Museo Archeologico, and yes, the day after that you come back to visit Pompeii again. Only with this iron rule will you really understand and appreciate Pompeii. Only a few of my friends believed me, but they still thank me.

Anyway, you're visiting Pompeii and you want to go to a restaurant. Which one ? Mostly the food is not great and there are only three good restaurants. Two of these are much too famous and expensive and one of them is not at all friendly to strangers. So, the best choice is Zý Caterina.

You know as well as I do the bad early warning signs. But it would be easy to make a mistake in this case. Don't be put off by the window on the street dispensing food to take away; the signs look too large as does the dining room inside. It's a good idea to make a reservation, not mandatory but useful. Ask for Signor Fabio, the young patron of Zý Caterina. Although he's less than thirty he manages his restaurant very well. It's the third generation of the family: his grandfather began when visitors to Pompeii were the most sophisticated travellers in the world.

Fabio will give you a menu list and wine list but, please, forget it and listen to his advice. As antipasti we chose "seppie con finocchi e olive", cuttle fish with fennel and olives which was good because fresh and light if not perhaps not the best. Very good the suggested wine: Greco di Tufo Novaserra 2002 by Mastroberardino. We drank this until the first proper course: paccheri di Gragnano ai frutti di mare. Paccheri is a kind of short macaroni made in Gragnano, one of the hill towns close to Pompei, fifteen minutes driving. Gragnano is the most important town of Italy for pasta. I think you all know by now that Frutti di mare is seafood. The recipe also calls for small and sweet tomatoes and olive oil. This was really very good.

If you dislike seafood or, anyway, you prefer some other first course, you'd best taste "pasta e fagioli", very well cooked with tender beans. As second course, really it depends on the fish market because Zý Caterina serves only fresh local fish. We tasted an excellent "pezzogna all'acqua pazza". (Vincenzo can't find an English equivalent, apart from the bit about "mad water"! Some our friends (we were eighteen) wanted meat and Fabio suggested a mix of grilled meat. So the wine became Avellanio 2001 by Mastroberardino. I wanted to taste also the mushrooms with potatoes: nice, original and light.

Fresh fruit and, as dessert: delizia al limone. Big slice in the plate but even so, for many of us, a second slice was a very good idea. The dessert wine was Melizie by Mastroberardino.

The cost of our meal:
Eighteen people: 640 euro. (About ú24.00 a head) Excellent in its quality/price ratio.

Zý Caterina is closed on Tuesday.
Via Roma, 20 ( close to Porta Anfiteatro )
Tel. 081 8507447

Click here for more reviews of restaurants in the Neapolitan region by Vincenzo D'Antonio

UK Restaurant Reviews – The Best Of The Dine Online Restaurant Reviews 2001 - 2010

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