Trattoria A Pignatta
Whole fish with paccheri
The quartieri spagnoli, though it really is the heart and soul of Naples, is a place where it’s hard to find a restaurant that stands out. Many are excellent and what distinguishes one from the other is usually a small price difference that pays for a quieter, less claustrophobic interior. The apprentice umbrellamaker, the young Mario Talarico, pointed us to a place behind his uncle’s umbrella workshop, Trattoria a Pignatta. When we entered the restaurant, which looks just like many of its nearby competitors, I was struck by one thing: The customers were almost all well-dressed businessmen here together for lunch. They weren’t wealthy, but they were bourgeois. In other countries this is a sign to head for the hills, but in Italy it is like a divining rod for good value, great tasting cooking. The standout dish was a small fish stewed in tomato sauce and served whole next to a mound of paccheri, a flat, wide noodle that is very typical of Campania. You debone the fish and mix its morsels with the pasta. I’d like to say that I chose the dish—truth is I just copied the businessmen at the table next to me.
By Tom Downey, AFAR Contributor
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