For the 12th anniversary of our first date, I surprised Kees with a visit to La Torre del Saracino in Vico Equense, near Naples. We had been there twice before (in 2008 and 2010), but this was the first time we went there straight from home without going anywhere else. La Torre del Saracino of chef Gennaro Esposito has two Michelin stars (worth a detour), but according to us that should be three (worth the journey).
La Torre has two degustation menus (Proposta di Ciro of 6 courses and Proposta di Salvatore of 8 courses) that change with the seasons, and we decided to go for the Salvatore with matching wines. Since it was not our first time, the chef very kindly checked with us whether we would like to substitute any courses to avoid eating the same again. Since our previous visits were in autumn rather than winter, everything was different.
We started with a nice spumante from Lugano and two very nice “stuzzichini” (Italian for amuse-bouche). We forgot to take a photo of the first. The second one was grilled radicchio with parsley and anchovy.
1st course: Misto di pesce allo scoglio. Very fresh seafood, slightly cooked on a hot lava rock and served with three sauces: lemon, bread crumbs-parsley-anchovy and peppers. Great presentation. The matching local falanghina was amazing, both as a wine on its own and as a pairing.
2nd course: Anguilla laccata alla melassa di fichi del Cilento, grano soffiato, arancia candita e salsa piccante di agrumi. Eel with a fig-“gloss” and oranges. Japan-inspired and very nice. Good pairing with a greco from Paestum.
3rd course: Minestra “maritata” di pesce. A fish-version of a traditional soup with pork and cabbage. Here the pork is replaced with different unusual pieces of fish, including cod stomach. May sound weird, but tastes great. Paired well with the same greco from Paestum.
4th course: Risotto con cymosa italica e limone, mantecato con burrata e triglia marinata allo zenzero candito. Risotto with mullet marinated in ginger. Served with beer instead of wine.
5th course: Pasta e cavolfiore con ostriche e pecorino. Pasta with cauliflower (florets and deep-fried greens), oysters and crunchy pecorino. One of the most original dishes of the evening that tasted great! Paired with a chardonnay from Sicily.
A bonus dish: spaghetti with tomato sauce made from local vine tomatoes that were dried in the cellar. The very intense flavor paired well with a pinot grigio “vin gris” from Friuli.
6th course: Pescatrice alla brace con foie gras ed insalatina di erba amare. Monk fish with foie gras, bitter leaves and a lemon dressing. The combination of monk fish and foie gras works well, but this was not our favorite dish.
7th course: Zeppola di coniglio al miele di rosmarino salsa agrodolce di pomodoro. Deep-fried rabbit with sweet and sour sauce. Paired with a 1997 cabernet-merlot from Friuli. The rabbit had a nice soft texture but didn’t taste like anything. It would have been better to leave this dish out of the menu.
Pre-dessert. Nice and light with crunchy chocolaty things.
8th course: Zuppa di pere con millefoglie di ricotta. The dessert with pear, ricotta and pastry was nice but not great. Paired with a passito.
Next to a cheese cart (that looked good but we skipped it) they also have a chocolate cart with an amazing range of different chocolates from all over the world.
The small pastries were also nice.
Except for the rabbit dish we had a wonderful dinner with outstanding wines, both the quality of the wines and the pairing. Compared to other restaurants of this quality this is a bargain (120 euros for 8 course degustation, around 60 euros for aperitif, matching wines, water and coffee). Compared to our previous visit the service was improved, especially with respect to the wine that was now served automatically with each dish. We’ll be back!