Photo by Faith Willinger
L'Europeo has always been my favorite restaurant in Naples. The ambience is pure trattoria--fish tank in the entryway, plates, diplomas, awards, Neapolitan paintings, photos, and copper pots covering the walls. Owners Alfonso Mattozzi, his wife Annamaria, and daughter Fabiana welcome diners like old friends--surely they know someone you know, and therefore you'll get the same treatment, or will on your next visit.
The seasonal menu is Neapolitan, and pizza is given the attention it deserves, as a starter for the meal. Classics like margherita and marinara, or smoked provola and greens are stellar, worth a voyage. Plates appear, of super-fresh mozzarella, tiny fried fish, meatballs, olives, and slow cooked vegetables. Of course pasta--local, from Gragnano, is worth the calories. I can't resist maltagliati with mussels and strictly seasonal green zucchini flowers (called sciurilli in dialect).
I rarely make it to the main course, but there's fresh, local fish for those with heartier appetites. Alfonso insists on dessert--baba', pastiera (wheatberry custard tart), custard tartlets topped with wild strawberries, fruit stuffed with its own flavor of gelato.
The wine selection is wonderful and Alfonso or Fabiana will recommend something appropriate. Rosé champagne and pizza really does work, although there are lots of great wines from Campania and beyond. L'Europeo is now open for dinner as well as lunch. It's close to the port, great for those who plan to get a boat to the Sorrento coast, Capri, Ischia, or even Sicily.
(L'EUROPEO Via Campodisola 4/6/8 (NA); Tel. +39-081-552-1323; Closed all day Sunday and two weeks in August)