We are touring the coast of southern Italy, and our first stop is in Brusciano, just outside of Naples. Taverna Estia has two Michelin stars and three forchette from Gambero Rosso. The dining room has full view of the kitchen (behind glass) and has a warm atmosphere with white linen, a fireplace, and beamed ceiling. There are three tasting menus: sea, land, and the chef’s menu (8 courses for 150 euros, 60 euros for matching wines). We opted for the latter.
The wine pairing started with a 2008 Franciacorta of 100% chardonnay that is only available at restaurants of the Jeune Restaurateurs d’Europe. It was very complex and elegant with a fine mousse, and worked well with the appetizers.
The appetizers were all delicious: pear with anchovies and pistachios, pea cake with guanciale, water melon with mackerel and wasabi, pear tartlet, crunchy cylinder with mortadella mousse, and crostini with anchovies.
But there was more: seaweed cracker (similar to krupuk)…
…and goat cheese with cocoa butter and apricot marmelade…
…and an oyster with campari granita. A great set of appetizers: 9/10.
There is also a lot of different excellent bread, all baked at the restaurant.
The ‘pizza bread’ was very good and just like pizza crust. In the back you see taralli, typical of Naples, made with almond flour and pepper.
A tomato salad, with tomatoes from the restaurant’s garden, grapes, ‘burnt’ olive oil, and cherry vinegar. Paired with a very volcanic Falanghina. The minerality of the wine works best with the green tomato. The tomatoes are very flavorful. 9/10
Instead of a regular fried mozzarella, this also contains tuna and the breading has almonds and pistachios. It comes with a Ponzu sauce, and is paired nicely with an aromatic yet elegant Zibibbo and Grillo blend from the island of Pantelleria. The combination of textures is very nice with the meaty (almost raw) tuna and creamy mozzarella (fior di latte, cow’s mille) and crunchy nuts. I think a bit of salt could have accentuated the tuna a bit more. 9/10
Surf & turf: prawn tartare, truffle, porcini, and almonds. Again I thought a touch of salt could have brought out the prawns a bit more. But still a very nice and original dish, paired nicely with a very good rosé from Campania, made from aglianico using cold skin contact. 8/10
The first pasta dish: ravioli filled with basil pesto, with scampi (seared very briefly), green beans, and pureed arugula. The dish has strong bitter notes and was paired with an aged Fiano. 7/10
The second pasta dish: thick spaghetti with octopus extract. The pasta very al dente and the sauce with a very deep and delicious flavor; I think there was also some tomato in there. Paired with a red wine, a slightly chilled Piedirosso and Aglianico blend from the slopes of the nearby Vesuvio. 8/10
Ususually in a long tasting menu the main course ends up being quitte boring compared to what already came before. Not here: the ricciola (amberjack) with zucchini (‘scales’ and the flower) and a very lightly smoky cheese mousse was absolutely delightful. The fish very meaty and juicy, cooked perfectly, worked very well with the zucchini and cheese. 10/10 The wine was still the same red as the previous course, which was okay, but a white would have been better I think.
The pre-dessert: a fake cherry with chocolate, very nice.
The dessert: almond mousse…
…with white chocolate and peach ice cream inside. Paired adequately (but strangely, after all those local wines) with a tawny port. Unfortunately it was served too warm.
Very nice also the petit fours…
…and these very butttery cookies with the logo of the restaurant reminded us of bitcoins.
The food was very good: original dishes executed well. 9/10
The wine pairings were all okay and it was nice that all wines except the first and the last came from the region. 8/10
The service was very friendly and it was great to see so much enthusiasm and knowledge about the local produce, dishes, and wine. There were a few glitches, especially the wine that was served too late with the spaghetti. 7/10
The two Michelin stars of Taverna Estia are well deserved. We had a very nice evening.