From the Palace to Vinicolo

by Antonella Amodio 08/24/16
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Dalla Reggia al Vinicolo

A characteristic street in Caserta’s historic center leads directly from the entrance to the Royal Palace designed by Vanvitelli to a restaurant frequented by those who appreciate good food and wine: Al Vinicolo. Although it only opened eight months ago, the competence of the staff in regard to food and drink, along with the passion and enthusiasm they all share, has in an only sort period time brought it the success it deserves. The place has two faces to it: it is a Wine Bar that opens at 5pm and offers a selections of wines by the glass accompanied by finger food, while at 7:30pm it becomes a restaurant with two dining rooms that can seat 40 people.


The atmosphere is pleasingly informal with a décor of warm tones that create a relaxed setting, enhanced by the choice of background music. The hospitality of Graziella, Doriano and Marco – along with the attentive service – allows you to have a long and rewarding meal. In full view – separated from the rest of the restaurant by a large glass window – is an enormous grill where you can watch the meat and fish being prepared. The cuisine is light and immediate using seasonal foods.
The menu is for the most part traditional – with a lot of dishes based on cod – but there are some creative ‘surf ‘n’ turf’ offerings. As a starter the polpette di baccalà alla Luciana (cod fishballs) are a must and also good is the gambero scottato su coulis di pane viola (brazed shrimp on a purple bread coulis) or, if you don’t want fish, the classic mozzarella di bufala campana servita con Parma (Campania buffalo mozzarella with Parma ham).

The first courses highlight the chef’s skill in cooking and pairing. The linguine con vongole veraci e zucchini con tarallo di Leopoldo (linguini with fresh clams and zucchini with a Leopoldo tarallo-prezel) is excellent and I also reccommend the mezze maniche all’amatriciana di gamberi rossi di Mazara (half-rigatoni with a Mazara red shimp amatriciana sauce), delicious. Also good are the fusilli con baccalà, uvetta, pinoli e olive (fusilli with cod, raisins, pine nuts and olives) and the cavatello con ricotta dura, limone and pistacchio di Bronte (cavatello pasta with hard ricotta cheeses, lemon and Bronte pistachios). For second course you can choose from the baccalà fritto (fried cod) – a traditional Campania dish – or baccalà in crosta di pomodori secchi e olive nere (cod with a crust of dried tomatoes and olives), or let yourself be tempted by the excellent filetto di manzo alle erba aromatiche del Matese (beef fillet with Matese aromatic herbs). I chose the calamaro scottato su coulis di piselli a pane alle rape rosse (brazed squid on a pea coulis bed with beet bread) and had no regrets.


For dessert, aside from the seasonal millefoglie con Chantilly al limone (napoleon with lemon Chantilly cream) and the Ciliegie di Pantalatone (Pantalatone cherry), there are mousse or semifreddi di frutta (fruit mousse or semifreddos).
The wine list is fairly basic and selected by sommelier Marco Martufi who chose to give ample room to local wineries along with other domestic and international wines. Craft beers are available along with a small selection if distilled spirits. Al Vinicolo also hosts encounters with producer and appreciation courses for wine, olive oil and beer and on some nights they offer theme dinners with food, music and culture from other countries.





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