Dining in Italy: Villa Rosa di Nonna Rosa

Chef Peppe Guida has two restaurants: Antica Osteria Nonna Rossa with a Michelin star, and an agriturismo called Villa Rosa di Nonna Rosa. The produce used at both restaurants comes from the agriturismo, from farm to table. We had dinner at the agriturismo, with a wonderful view of the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvio volcano.

The agriturismo can be difficult to find, because if you enter the address in your sattelite navigation , it will lead you to the wrong place. If you ask directions from the agriturismo, they tell you to set your satellite navigation for a nearby church and then go 500 metres “straight ahead”. It is however easy to find if you do not enter the address in the satellite navigation, but simply the name of the restaurant.

There is no written menu, there is only a set menu for 50 euros. There is no wine list either, only house wine (white or red) for 15 euros.

The menu starts with aria fritta: fried air! It is a thin and very fluffy pizza crust that has been deep fried.

The topping of the pizza is on the plate underneath. You eat this with your hands by breaking off pieces of pizza and mopping up the topping. In Italian this is called fare la scarpetta. The tomato sauce was very flavorful.

Next came the spread of antipasti:

  • Squid stewed in tomato sauce, very tender and flavorful
  • Charred leftover pasta with parmigiano
  • Bread meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Panzanella (a salad of tomatoes and stale bread, called caponata by the restaurant), very tasty tomatoes
  • Something that looked like green polenta but was made of broccoli and semola
  • Fresh fig with excellent prosciutto
  • Deep fried prawn
  • Deep fried rice ball with smoked mozzarella (scamorza)
  • White tuna with potato and onions, very tender and moist tuna
  • Fluffy vegetable pancakes

These antipasti are a meal by themselves. Most of them are ingenous ways to make something delicious out of leftovers. I had heard of the refried pasta before, but this was the first time I had it in a restaurant.

Luckily (after being overfed yesterday by Gennaro Esposito) there was only one primo and one secondo. The primo was mixed pasta (various pasta shapes) with chickpeas, fresh porcini mushrooms, and basil pesto. The sauce was slightly soupy and probably made with vegetable broth. The fresh porcini mushrooms were very fragrant and took this dish from a simple pasta with chickpeas to something absolutely delicious.

The secondo was sea bream (orata) fillet with squash velouté and olive oil with herbs. The squash sauce also included crunchy diced squash next to the smooth puree and the fish was tender and juicy. The combination of fish and squash was very nice, also because the squash was very flavorful because it was fresh from the garden.

The dessert was torta caprese, a classic chocolate cake with almonds from Naples, served with homemade vanilla ice cream. The torta caprese was amazing, very moist and flavorful.

The meal ended with zeppole, another classic from this area that is very similar to donuts.

There were 4 types of digestif to choose from: limoncello, hazelnut, cherry, and finocchietto (wild fennel). I opted for the latter and it was very nice, fresh and fragrant.

The food at Villa Rosa is wonderful, traditional local recipes that are prepared as they should be from high quality local fresh produce. At 50 euros for the whole menu it is also excellent value.

The house wines (both white and red) are very basic table wines with some residual sugar and not at all at the level of the food. It is a sign that it is possible to order the wine with slices of peach in it and that the red wine is served ice cold. 15 euros is too much money and it is a shame no wine by the bottle is available. But the food is so good that it is worth to put up with the wine, or skip wine completely.

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