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“Rendere pan per focaccia”
this means to give back the bread or give back to the community.
I am a great fan of celebrating with the community and breaking bread together
One of the most memorable food festivals was on my visit to Naples, I was staying on Via Gaetano Filangieri midway up the Chiaia Staircase overlooking the palazzo Mannajuolo.
it was a beautiful summers morning and I got up for Fajr, and you knew it was going to be a warm day as there was a stillness in the air.
As I looked out of the open floor to ceiling windows I saw an old man walking up the Chiaia Staircase shouting something, it was as if he was announcing an event
“Santa Lucia sta arrivando nessuno avrà fame”
he kept repeating this every few steps, Which obviously piqued my curiosity, as I did not speak Neoplolitan so I recorded the gentlemen’s mournful cries and translated it.
It translated as
“Saint Lucy is coming…no one will go hungry”
I was even more confused, in the street I was staying was a Louis Vuitton and a Gucci boutique, I doubt the residents of this area would be going hungry.
so I got dressed and decided to investigate this a wee bit more, so I went to the local bar for an espresso and I asked the Barista
The Barista told me to have a seat for a few minutes and all will be revealed.
Sure enough, a few minutes later a procession slowly appeared walking up the street, everyone was dressed in white and were carrying a statue of Santa Lucia.
It was a very cheerful and colourful profession and the participants were handing out candy and cake.
Apparently, every July the people of Naples celebrate the festival of Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia is the patron saint of the blind and the hungry and to commemorate, the feast of Santa Lucia is prepared and food is given out to everyone.
I love this community spirit and more importantly, food being the catalyst to bring people together.
So to celebrate our own festival the Alfie Foodwala family went out to the Santa Lucia restaurant in the Merchant City.
To kick off the proceeding, we always chose a pizza, the reason being that if the pizza is made properly, using the proper 000 flour
then you know the chef is decent.
The Pizza base should be elastic and chewy without being soggy, the dough should bubble when in the wood-fired oven giving the tell take black bubbles on the crust.
The Pizza ticked all the boxes, the buffalo mozzarella was creamy and the sugo had a sweet tartness.
Carnaroli rice with chillies, mussels, clams, langoustine, squid, king prawns in a shellfish sauce.
This was a revelation, the fresh seafood was perfectly balanced with the al dente rice and the shellfish sauce stock made the rice plump.
I loved this dish, The seafood was prepared with an expert hand.
The Gnocchi potato dumplings were prepared with creamy blue cheese sauce and crushed pistachios.
WOW! what a paring, blue cheese and cracked Pistachios, who would have thought that two diverse ingredients would make such a delicious combination. The Gnocchi was soft and pillowy, not at all stodgy.
Our taste buds were singing like Pavarotti.
Cream soaked and then Pan-fried breaded chicken breast with rosemary. The chicken Milanese is a simple dish but difficult to master.
The chicken breast is a notoriously difficult protein to master, Cook it too much and it becomes dry and stringy, cook it too little it leaves it unedible and dangerous.
This was cooked just right, the breast was light and fluffy, the breadcrumbs were golden and crispy.
or sugo all’arrabbiata in Italian is a spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and dried red chilli peppers cooked in olive oil.
the Sugo was delicious, tart yet sweet, shiny with Olive Oil yet not greasy
Santa Lucia was excellent, they did all the basic things with the proper effort so that the complex elements were made to look effortless.
The Pizza dough was using the right blend of 000 flour
The seafood was fresh and succulent
The Sugo was made from vine-ripened tomatoes and virgin Olive oil
The service was polite and efficient
The Star of the Meal?
My star of the meal was definitely Risotto Di Marre, a complex dish of many elements done right.
The miss of the Meal?
I honestly cannot think of anything, I don’t want to name something just to fill this section.
So how did Santa Lucia do against its peers?
Definitely on par with Oro and Cafe Parma
I loved it equally as La Lanterna.
The Chicken served in the restaurant and HALAL
Alcohol is served on the Premises
Pork is served on the Premises
100% impartial Guarantee
Alfie Foodwala visits all restaurants anonymously and pays for the bill like any other customer, Alfie Foodwala does not accept free meals in return for meals
All reviews are the personal opinion of Alfie Foodwala based on his 30-year experience as a restauranteur.