Rating: 9 / 10
You get the best food advice from your bartender, especially in Italy.
I was propped up at the bar enjoying a To Øl alcohol free number, when the bartender I had been casually chatting with turned and mentioned there was a great dumpling place in town. I almost dismissed him thinking surely there cannot be a decent place in Naples? But curiosity got the better of me, and when he whipped out his phone and showed me the instagram photos I knew I had to go.
I walked the long and steep hills from Dante to Bop, peering down alleyways and trying to remember not to look in open doors which lead directly to families gathered around televisions. After a half hour of leg stretching I arrived to find two men in line. It had just opened and after a warm welcome from the owner along with a detailed explanation of the 8 dumplings he had on sale, I retreated outside to wait and struck up a conversation with the other clients.
As we waited for the water to boil so our dumplings could steam we found out that we all shared a love for Asia, dumplings and underground bars. Fortuitously enough one of the men standing there was the owner of La Fesseria, my favourite bar in Naples. It was one of those nights that truly reminds you how small the world can be.
Ultimately, we all came for dumplings and when they were ready we were asked in to oversee the sauce dispersion. Bowl in hand, outside again and chopsticks at the ready I dug in. As instructed by the owner I first went for the cod dumpling. Despite his warning that it was the most muted, it sang with appreciation. From then on in a clock-wise manouver I ate my way through a myriad of different tastes, textures and tantalise-ments. Each dumpling stood alone with it's own identity, none of the flavours muddled into each other and became confused. The sofrito one was a new one I had never encountered- this wasn't the spanish sofrito, but an organ meat and chilli version from Naples. Charsui and Lamb with Kimchi, Katsu, a vegan dumpling and a couple others i forgot the ingredients of, all lulled me to dream dreams of being back in Asia.
In all my travels it is exactly these moments I live for. To find a small place, off the beaten track, loved by the food-mad locals and spoken about in reverential tones by those in the know. Hats off to the chef for creating such a strong and delicious combination of flavours, and a reason alone to walk the hill to Materdei. I truly hope that more people discover this dumpling house and give the man the credit he deserves.
Small establishments need our help now more than ever, and you shouldn't think twice about heading here and spending your hard earned money on some consummately prepared treats.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"