da carmine - napoli, italy
Rating: 9 / 10
Napoli is a playground for food enthusiasts. You can pretty much enter any random restaurant and have a meal that rivals, if not trumps, anything you've eaten before. The plethora of options can seem dizzying at first until you get your bearings and listen to the urgent whispers of local food-ivores.
Da Carmine was spoken in revered tones on whatsapp from an Italian friend submerged in the oceans of good food. She urged me not to overlook this gem. Despite sitting smack bang in the middle of the hectic crowds heading towards Sorbillo, I was reassured not to judge it by it's location but rather by it's taste.
I ended up eating twice in the matter of three days. Everything was sumptuous, delicious, hearty and authentic. The eggplant starter was rich and decadent and nestled in a tangy tomato sauce. The arancini had the depth of smoked provola cheese added into the rice mixture to give it a real moist, earthy tone. At 1 euro a pop, you'd be hard pressed not to order a bucket load for later.
Onto the Spaghetti Vongole which was a salty, briny attack on the senses. Hands down the best version of this iconic dish that I had ever eaten. Plump seafood, al-dente pasta, fresh parsley, tomatos and good quality butter/olive oil.
If you're looking to widen your waistline then order the "Carmine special Penne" which is, again, loaded with smoked cheese and tastes wickedly satisfying.
Their take on the classic "Spaghetti and Meatballs" is a hearty, warming delight. Succulent and tender meatballs, rich simple tomato sauce and perfectly cooked pasta. What more do you want?
They don't accept reservations so be willing to wait a while as this spot is furiously attended by the local clientele and a few curious tourists who happen upon it.
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.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"