South of Rome, along the Tyrrhenian Sea lies the region of Campania, the best place to eat in Italy, according to some serious foodies.
The Campania region includes travel hot spots such as Pompeii and the Amalfi coast, the islands of Capri and Ischia. It is also famous for delectable cuisine and agricultural produce: on the rich soils under Mount Vesuvius grow excellent San Marzano tomatoes, figs, artichokes, and lemons. The region’s capital, Naples, is the birthplace of beloved across the world pizza Margherita, a simple pizza with tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Another celebrated food of Campania is Mozzarella di bufala Campana, or buffalo mozzarella, made exclusively from whole buffalo milk since the time of the ancient Lombards.
There is a long tradition of excellent fish and seafood dishes on the coast: fried, stewed, grilled, baked, added to pasta and soups. Risotto alla Pescatora is a classic seafood risotto popular in Naples and along the Amalfi Coast. The traditional dish of spaghetti with clams (spaghetti con le vongole) has been enjoyed by generations of fishermen along the Campania coastline. Another simple and tasty regional recipe is a mix of fried seafood (fritto misto di mare), a classic served by the seaside in summer along with a crisp white local wine. On the menu in Campania restaurants and trattorias you will find plenty of hearty dishes: stuffed peppers (peperoni imbottiti), rich Neapolitan potato, salami and cheese cake (gattò di patate), eggplant parmigiana (parmigiana di melanzane).
Campania is also known for its delicious pastries. No trip to Naples or the Amalfi coast would be complete without gorging on sfogliatella, a crunchy delight filled with creamy ricotta that has existed in the province of Salerno since the 17th century. The Neapolitan ricotta and grain tart pastiera and rum-soaked sponge cake babà are another traditional treats to enjoy while holidaying in Campania.
At the end of a meal the tradition calls for a small shot of local limoncello, a liqueur made with Sorrento lemons peel. Each family has its own recipe that has been passed from one generations to another.
Photos by: Garrett Ziegler, Nathalie Boisard-Beudin, Yuichi Sakuraba.