A Day in Napoli
After our beach time, we were ready to get back to a city. With our schedule tightening up, we decided we could only spend a day in Naples before moving onto Rome. We arrived via train on a Sunday, and for me there was only one place to go once we got settled.
Sfogliatelle Attanasio! I believe I read Mario Batali gushing about it in some food mag or online, and what got me curious was that this place serves these incredible pastries still warm, or even hot, from the oven. I can't say I have much experience with these "lobster tails", other than a New York version that's been sitting in a case for 3 days. My mouth was just watering for the original! So we made our way through the busy city and into a smelly alleyway to find a small bundle of locals & foodies huddled outside this tattered and revered bakery. Nudging my way through the crowd to get my ticket and order in was a little intimidating, but I managed to make myself understood with my barebones Italian. After about a 30 minute wait for my number to be called, I finally got to the front of the counter. I had ordered 2 sfogliatelle and the man behind the counter asked me if I wanted "1 crispy, 1 soft". I didn't know there was a difference, so I just said yes. Upon leaving and opening the bag on the sidewalk just outside the bakery, I admit I was a little disappointed to find I only got one of the signature flakey sfogliatella, also known as "riccia". The soft one encased the same fragrantly orange scented ricotta filling, but looked more like a bread bun. We tackled the riccia first, and it was everything you could want in a pastry! Warm, super crispy, sweet and creamy with little bursts of candied orange bits! My husband got us a coffee while we were waiting in line, and it made the perfect pairing. Moving onto the "frolla', or shortcrust version, I had little hope that it would be as good. It was surprisingly just as divine! What it lacked in ultimate crispiness, it overcompensated in pure buttery (or lardy?) tenderness!
As soon as we cleared the crumbs from our shirts, the day's rain started pouring down. We found ourselves under a bus shelter wondering what to do next. We were still hungry from our morning's travel, so pizza was the only logical option! We were a little annoyed to find that many pizza places that were recommended to us were closed on Sundays. 50 Kalo was the only one on the list that was open, so we got in a cab and waited yet another 45 minutes under an umbrella outside for a taste of Naples' most popular dish. Pizza!
Admittedly, I wasn't as blown away by this pizza as I was with the one in Pompeii. The flavors had a bit less pop and the dough was a bit soggy. Overall though, the vibe in the restaurant was cool and the appetizer of fried bucatini was delicious... like fried mac n' cheese!
The rest of the evening became a dud, as I managed to catch a slight cold while standing in the rain for pizza. Such is life! The next morning, I mustered the strength to get out of bed early to to try out another famous bakery one of my cooks recommended. Pasticceria Angelo Carbone! They were also serving warm sfogliatelle, so I couldn't resist ordering one. So so good! I'm almost afraid of eating one of these outside Naples, because I feel like nothing will ever come close.