Everyday can be a culinary adventure! My nephew Nick was flying in to meet the family and see Pontelandlofo for the first time. Being “Auntie Never Late”, my accommodating spouse and I set off a little after noon for the Naples Airport. The idea was to explore a town or two along the way. Being foodies we started salivating at the signs for fresh buffalo mozzarella and various local trattoria. What can I say, we slowly drove ignoring the incredible mountain vistas and looking for a place to stop for pranza. I’d spy something on the left and bellow there! Jack would swerve and through clenched teeth say look for something on the right. That was the right advice.
The next place on the right was “Il Re Ghiotto”. It looked interesting and – this was incredibly important on a busy narrow street – it had a parking lot. Inside the tables all had sweet checkered table clothes and linen napkins. We could see the comfortable layout clearly because there was absolutely no one in the place. We knew why, but hated to admit it. We were hungry Americans who stopped for pranza on the early side of appropriateness – 1:00 pm.
Being in mozzarella di bufola country we of course ordered a caprese salad to share, aqua minerale frizzante and vino rosso di tavola. Within moments toasted quarters of artegean bread appeared topped with diced tomatoes and fresh basil that had been marinating in the regions incredible olive oil. Yummy. I wondered if my Italian had been so bad that my “l’insalta caprese” sounded like “bruschetta “. I shouldn’t have worried, the bruschetta was simply a gift from the kitchen. Like every caprese salad we have had in Italy, the tomatoes tasted like fresh tomatoes not hot house drek and nothing beats really fresh mozzarella . Since we had about 5 hours before the flight was due and were only an hour from the airport, we ate slowly and savored every bite.
Jack had ordered miniature penne pasta tossed with porcini mushrooms, a few diced tomatoes, loose sausage and of course that amazing olive oil. He made me taste it and I wanted to grab the plate. But if I did that he’d grab my risotto and I refused to share. I ordered mystery risotto. A mystery because the only word I recognized in the description was “risotto”. It was purple in color, had teeny tiny bits of something meaty in it and was amazing. Jack took a taste. I took two tastes. OK – purple- maybe squid with squid ink? But everyone knows the word for squid – calamari. This word started with A. Of course, I didn’t write it down. Didn’t tell master mind Jack the word. Hence, I couldn’t look it up. ( I found out later it was made with red wine.)
For contorni we had rucola (arugula) that Jack pointed out must have been picked 5 minutes ago. They were tiny leaves perched in a bowl and served with bottles of olive oil and vinegar.
After our coffees,I asked the owner in what I thought was impeccable Italian for the check. He looked at me and responded in impeccable university grade American Standard English,” are you from New Jersey or Connecticut?” All those Italian classes and I still can’t pass. We introduced ourselves to the charming Pasquale and he joined us for tale swapping
He was born in Jersey City and lived there during his adolescent years. The family has a marble, granite and stone business in Patterson,NJ. They also own the R\restuarant in Rotondi (AV). He and his parents fly back and forth often. We promised to come back the next time we made the airport trek and take a picture for this blog of his dad’s circa 1970s Cadillac Coupe De Ville sitting I the garage flaunting its NJ liscence plates.
You will notice there are no pictures of food. Why? You damn well know why! It was so good we scoffed it down before I remembered to take a picture. If you want to see the food visit:
Il Re Ghiotto – Ristorante Pizzeria
S.S. 7 Appia, 62
83017. Rotondi (AV)
Tell Pasquale that the New Jerseyans sent you.