After trying out the Braceria Bifulco here in Ottaviano, I decided that I would start rating restaurants around my area first. These are places easily accessible via the SS268, or if you find yourself going to the “Vulcano Buono” the kids and I call it the “Good Vulcano” you can easily drive to these restaurants, they’re about 10 or 15 minutes away.
My family an I visited the Taverna Vesuviana on January 6th, the Epiphany (La Befana), tired of the usual holiday menu we wanted to try something new. This locale, also new, opened on January 2nd and is still at its beginning stages, but it shows a lot of potential. The Chef, Alfonso Crisci, is a young talent starting out with his own restaurant, but from the menu we had the pleasure of tasting, I say he has great possibilities for doing really well.
Monday in Italy, as many of you living here know, was a holiday “la Befana” or the Epiphany (not really the same thing, but close enough). So there was one menu only. Many restaurants have a unique menu on holidays, makes it easier to prepare and they charge for the single menu. For example we paid €30 per person (adults that is and you can talk to the staff for children’s menus they help you out in any way possible). Wines are not included but, naturally if, and you should, have some of the great wines the price is a bit different.
As we walked in (photo above) the locale really shows off in its elegant staircase and the tables placed in such a way to take advantage of the space. You can seat on the balcony, if you want a bit of extra privacy, or on the main floor on which you walk in, or the step down floor. It looks small from the outside, but when you walk in, you find that the spaces have been used up real well. My advice though is always the same, book. Especially if you’re coming from Lago or even from Gricignano. I live 5 minutes away and I still booked. You never know.
Anyway, the staff is very welcoming and so efficient. I must say I am so happy to find Italian restaurants where the staff is always ready to help you in any way possible. Very hard to find around here. Plus not a very long wait on the food, actually it was timed perfectly from dish to dish. The two waiters serving us were absolutely great, always smiling, they conversed with the kids, they tried to make us feel comfortable and at ease. I really liked it.
The menu was made up of a series of taste portions of some of the specialties of the house. I must say it was all good, a feast for the taste buds. We started with the antipasto served in a long dish and made up of a vegetable tempura, potato crochet, ham and mozzarella mini pocket and a rice ball or arancino. Everything was very delicious and a big ten on the presentation. Don’t you think?
After getting our taste buds all excited, we were served a bread basket. That I didn’t really care for. I think the bread at the Braceria was so much tastier, warm and it was so fresh. Don’t get me wrong, the little bread dumplings were good, but cold and just not that tasty. Maybe it was a once in a lifetime thing, who knows. I guess only a next visit will tell.
We then had a millefoglie di melanzana or eggplant millefoglie pastry, with a light basil sauce and a pearl of mozzarella di bufala cooked at low temperature, meaning that the mozzarella cooks to the point where it just softens up a bit. It was really good.
I think that if you like eggplants or aubergines (as our fellow Brits would call them) you should definitely try them. After this delicious treat we moved on to an overlapping of octopus with a heart of steamed zucchini on a blue cheese stracciatella and celery crunches. Wow! Healthy and just plain good!
What a wonderful dish, just an incredible combination. I love blue cheese, but my wife isn’t a big fan of it, nonetheless she didn’t mind it at all, she actually loved it. We then moved on to baby calamari with a heart of broccoli, with dried tomatoes on a velvet smoked potato sauce.
Calamaretti were then followed by what I considered the best dish of them all. Beef and caramelized champignon, with crunchy potato chips with a light Chianti note. Delicious, absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately with the fact that it was so good I missed out on the photo. It was too good to photograph! We then had the entrée. Ravioli filled with scampi and baby octopus.
Finally dessert. A semi-cold cake with a raspberry cream. It is important to point out that the cake was brought in and not made by the Chef himself. I was told that they are going to be offering their own deserts pretty soon. In any case it was good, not great, but good. Together with the bread, dessert is the other aspect which needs a bit of improvement, not to say that it was a complete bust, but I believe that if the Chef is as good as I think he is, I am sure he’s going to make some real great deserts and looking forward to that.
So overall, I would give it a nice 8 out 10. If you find your self out in this neck of the woods, try it out. The address is Via Saviano 207, San Gennaro Vesuviano (Naples). If you want to book a table call them up at 081.528.61.81. They’ll have a website running soon enough at http://www.tavernavesuviana.it. Also, one last thing, they offer cooking lessons if you’re interested, I know I am and will be getting more info on the subject. Until the next review, “buon appetito”.