Last weekend, our friend Savatore Di Scala invited us out to eat at Naples 15 (in Madison), his newly opened restaurant. We were not given any menus, Sal said it was going to be a surprise! We ordered a couple glasses of red wine (Cannonau from Sardinia and Sangiovese Grosso from Tuscany) and eagerly awaited the first dish. He presented a cold swordfish and Swiss chard salad. The truffle oil and vinegar dressing was assertive and went well with the fatty swordfish, the uncooked chard refreshing. What a bold start. Next was a colorful antipasto plate with olive oil marinated mushrooms, peppers with capers and black olives, balsamic glazed carrots, and a most excellent version of the eggplant and zucchini parmesan (with layers so thin that we couldn’t tell where the cheese, vegetable, or tomato sauce began). A mouth-watering sausage and mushroom pizza came next, generously topped with truffle oil. After that, the best tasting pasta we’ve had in quite awhile. Spaghetti with clams (a Neapolitan specialty), cherry tomatoes, lots of fried garlic (I counted about 8 or 9 cloves), extra virgin olive oil, and fresh parsley.
We thought, we might be near the end of the meal but then Sal appeared from a corner with two pots filled with Neapolitan ragu on top of a pork spare rib and gnocchi. The sauce was rich and delicious from being slowly simmered for several hours. Finally the dessert, angel food cake and peaches sitting in warm milk, Grand Marnier, and ricotta sauce then came a slightly sweet and frothy cup of espresso made with the beautiful Marzocco machine. After the coffee, Sal took a break and we shared a refreshing bottle of Mastroberardino white wine and some vanilla gelato with roasted figs. A breath! Sal’s cooking is exactly like his personality. The flavors were bold and unapologetic. We are grateful for his generosity of time and for sharing his love of food. Go check out the restaurant and say hello. Written on the wall across from where I was sitting was “Quanno ‘o mellone esce russo, ognuno ne vo’ ‘na fella.”, meaning “When the melon is red, everyone wants a piece.” We wish Naples 15 a red melon year.