In Naples, Pizza Worth a Trip

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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)

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Faith Willinger is a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. More

Faith Heller Willinger is a born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and was seduced by Italian regional cooking. Faith has spent more than 30 years searching for the best food and wine, as well as the world beyond the table from the Alps to Sicily. She has no regrets about mileage or calories. Faith was awarded the prestigious San Pellegrino award for outstanding work as an ambassador of Italian cooking. She lives full-time in Florence with her Tuscan husband, Massimo. Her son Max lives in Milan. She's the author of the bestselling (9th printing) guidebook Eating in Italy, the cookbook Red, White & Greens, and the narrative recipe book Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Faith teaches in her kitchen in Florence on Wednesdays, supplied with freshly picked produce from her favorite farmers. Check out her web site at www.faithwillinger.com.

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