For my next to last birthday celebration this year, Michele and I went to Il Gattopardo.
A meal there is like eating in southern Italy with the emphasis on Campania and Naples. Gianfranco Sorrentino, the owner, is the perfect host.
Vito Gnazzo, the chef, always comes out to tell us the specials and give his recommendations.
We started with a bottle of Costa D’Amalfi DOC Tramonti Bianco 2015 from Giuseppe Apicella made from 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella. Exposure mainly southwest, and the pergola cultivation is at 300 to 500 meters. In the new vineyards there is guyot training and between 4,000 and 5,000 plants per hectare. Pergola there is 2,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place the second half of October and the grapes are hand picked. After a careful selection in the vineyard, the stalks are removed and the grapes macerate with the skins before they are pressed. The must is decanted by a static cold system and selected yeasts are injected into the must. It then ferments at a low temperature. Fermentation lasts for 20 to 30 days. The wine remains on the lees for 4 to 5 months. The wine was fruity and fresh with a good structure; it had hints of tropical fruit, honey and a touch of green apple, good acidity, a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.
After speaking to Vito, we ordered Buffalo Mozzarella in Carrozza with a light anchovy sauce. This is one of Michele’s favorites and she always orders it when we are in Naples. It is the ultimate toasted cheese sandwich made with sweet creamy buffalo mozzarella. The anchovy sauce is the perfect sharp counterpoint to the crisp toast and sweet cheese.
For the main course, I had a dish I have never seen on a menu in a restaurant in Naples but is often made in people’s homes. Traditional Neapolitan meatloaf, served with mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. This is one of my favorites.
For desert we always order the same thing: La Pastiera, a traditional Neapolitian cheesecake. Vito’s version is light and delicate, and one of the best I have ever eaten.
Il Gattopardo 13-15 W. 54th St. NY, NY