In Italy, A Carnivore's Paradise


Photo by Faith Willinger

I confess. I've got a thing for butchers. So when I met Michele Sgamato (from a family of butchers) and Gerardo Buono at a wine tasting, and they invited me to their restaurant, Fattoria di Campiglione, in Pozzuoli, outside Napoli, I saw no reason to resist.

The specialty, of course, was meat, unusual in the area, where seafood and pizza are the norm. The restaurant was a challenge to locate (don't trust a navigator) but well worth the effort. Bottles of wine and rare distillates crowd the entrance; prosciutto hangs like chandeliers from the ceiling. I gravitated to the display case of meat and poultry from Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Italian breeds Chianina, Maremmana, Romagnola, ready for the grill.

Carnivores won't be disappointed, and neither will oenophiles.

I toured the cramped, crowded wine cellar, rooms stacked with 20,000 bottles, to work up an appetite. Three dining rooms (there's also a garden for warm-weather dining) were packed with locals, mostly young, savvy drinkers who know how to hold a wine glass, all drinking red. I sat in the fireplace room, taxidermy décor, lots of antlers, and a vast display of artisanal salumi flanked by a shiny red Berkel slicer.

So I began my meal with a perfect selection of salumi. And continued with a taste of first course pastas like traditional paccheri alle Genovese, (meaty onion sauce), and fresh pasta ravioli with ricotta and spinach. Main course options include a few non-meat concessions--stoccafisso (air-dried cod) and tuna fillet, but the rest of the menu is heavy on meat, big on the grill. Carnivores won't be disappointed, and neither will oenophiles.

Desserts are classic--warm, melty chocolate cake, crema caramellata, flaky "thousand-leaves" pastry with custard and sour cherries. This restaurant is a bargain--a three-course meal for 35 euro, not including wine. There's also a terrific gift shop, with fine products like jarred tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, local wines--perfect for a gastronomic souvenir.

If you lust for Neapolitan cooking in Beijing, check out La Fattoria, (No.5 Phoenix Xintiandi Business Street, Shuguang Xili, Chaoyang District, Beijing. Phone: +8610 58667072) where you'll be surrounded by Italian, European, American, and some Chinese diners drinking mostly red, although the wine list is considerably shorter than in Pozzuoli.