Rating: 7 / 10
I'd be lying if I said my hopes were not sky high upon entering this local canteen. The sight of the old nonna in the kitchen struggling to stir gargantuan pots, the children playing front of house and the father walking around nodding at guests. It bled authenticity. I read the menu trembling: would this tiny restaurant tucked away from the main thoroughfares become my favourite place in Naples?
I ordered the Rigatoni for Primi and the Meatballs for secondi. Three local men sat in the corner plying themselves with wine even though it was before 1pm. The waitress spoke a bit of English so the ordering process was trouble-free. I sat back and took in the spartan interiors and latched on to the smells escaping the kitchen. My stomach growled.
My pasta course took an eternity to come. I initially wondered why, but quickly saw the volume of take-away boxes flying out the kitchen and realised most people had ordered delivery since it was bucketing down outside.
Eventually a steaming pile of rigatoni arrived at the table and my mouth watered. Diving in was a divine example of simplicity and honesty. This was al dente to the core, the sauce was hearty and homey and deep. I managed to scarf my way through the entire bowl, almost forgetting I had another course coming.
After a brief conversation with a Polish/Dutch couple at the neighboring table (pleading with them to avoid Sorbillo and go to Da Attilio instead), my meatballs were laid down to a feeling of terror. The primi course had already bludgeoned me and I felt incapable of shoving anymore into my mouth. Luckily for me the meatballs were not spectacular, so I felt justified in not finishing the plate. Nonna kept glancing over, perhaps because I was dressed all in black, perhaps because most clients here don't take photographs of their food.
The tomato sauce was pretty standard, almost like opening a bottle of passata and heating it up. Texturally the meatball ate dry and were quite firm. It lacked the delicate touch, which is of course reminiscent of home-cooking, but sometimes you appreciate mouth-feel as well as taste. I munched through one and half and threw in the towl, paid the bill, thanked the wonderful family and braced for the rain.
In terms of authenticity, this was an experience. In terms of flavour it was hit and miss.
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"