Category Archives: Lo Stuzzichino- Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi

Catalanesca and Caprettone: Grapes from the Heart of Mount Vesuvio


I first discovered wines made from the Catalanesca and Caprettone grapes at Lo Stuzzichino Restaurant in Sant’Agata sui due Golfi.  The owner of the restaurant, Domenico (Mimmo) De Gregorio, is very knowledgeable about the wines of Campania and after lunch we had a long conversation.IMG_1812

Mimmo asked me if I had ever had wine made from the Caprettone or Catalanesca grapes which are cultivated in the heart of the Mount Vesuvio National Park. When I said that I hadn’t, he gave me a bottle of wine from Società Agricola Cantina Olivella. It was a Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2011 made from the Caprettone grape. The name of the wine is Emblema. I thanked him and when we returned to the apartment we rented on the Amalfi Coast we had the wine with dinner and really liked it.

After trying the Emblema, I ordered other wines from Cantina Olivella whenever I saw them including Katá made from 100% Catalanese, and Lacrima Bianco made from Caprettone and Catalanesca.

Back home, I mentioned the wines and how much I liked them in one of my blog posts.  Soon, I got a message form Livio Panebianco of Panebianco importers/distributors. Livio said that after reading my blog, he was going to add all three of the wines to his portfolio. They are now available in NYC at Del Posto, Aroma and Ribalta restaurants, and at Turtle Dove, a new wine store at 30 Clinton Street.

Livio provided the following information about Cantina Olivella. He said it is located in Sant’Anastasia, a small village near Naples at the foot of Mount Vesuvio. The winery’s name comes from an ancient source of water known as Olivella Source near which, in 1974 archeologists discovered a fragment of a Roman wine jar with the engraved name of an ancient winemaker named Sex Cati Festi, which became the symbol of the Olivella bottles.

Cantine Olivella was one of the first wineries to register as producer of Catalanesca a grape variety originally from Catalonia, Spain.  Alfonso I of Aragon introduced it around 1450. The volcanic soil of this area is the perfect environment for the growing of this grape. The winery uses organic methods in the production of its grapes.

These white wines need at least 3 years of age before they are ready to drink!IMG_4168

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts is stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil.IMG_4166

Emblema Vesuvio DOC Bianco 100% Caprettone. It is said that the grape clusters resemble a sheep’s (capra) beard and that is how it got its name. For a time it was believed to be another name for the Coda di Volpe grape but DNA testing proved that they are not related. Vinification is the same as above. There are aromas of citrius fruit and herbs, with very good acidity, minerality a nice finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_4170

Lacrima Christi Del Vesuvio Bianco DOC  80% Caprettone and 20% Catalanesca  Vinification is the same as above. This is a well-balanced wine with flavors and aromas of dried fruit and dried flowers with good acidity and undertones of minerality.

Each one of the wines are a pleasure to drink and they have their own distinctive aroma and flavor.


Filed under Cantina Olivella, Carpettone, Catalanesca, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lo Stuzzichino- Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi

Return to Sorrento

Michele and I have always been captivated by the scenery along the Amalfi Coast and especially the views from Sorrento. We decided to return to Sorrento again this year and rent an apartment with just such a view.

The view from our terrace

The view from our terrace

We found an apartment with a terrace and a fantastic view of Mount Vesuvius and the surrounding area. The cruise ships anchored right below the apartment, and at night so did the fireworks barge.  It looked like a private fireworks display just for us.  It was quite a sight!IMG_3101

The apartment did not have WiFi so we had breakfast in the morning and drinks at night at a cafè/bar called the Square and read our e-mail.  The first night in Sorrento we went for dinner to a restaurant called ReFood. There was a big display of fresh fish at the entrance that looked very appealing, though most of the tourists in the restaurant were eating steak.  Not a great idea.



We went for the fish and vegetable dishes which were very good.  I ordered an Etna Bianco Superiore 2006 Pietramarina from Benanti made from 100% Caracanti.IMG_3092

I had the grilled calamari and Michele had pasta with zucchini and cheese. Michele enjoys the zucchini in Italy because the variety they grow is less watery and has more flavor than the kind grown here.

One of the reasons we like to visit Sorrento is that it is easy to take the bus or the local train to visit surrounding towns and we don’t need to rent a car. One of our favorite places to go is to Restaurant Lo Stuzzchino, a scenic half hour bus ride from Sorrento in the town of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi.

The owner of the restaurant is Domenico (Mimmo) De Gregorio who is also the sommelier. In the kitchen are his father Paolo, his mother Filomena and his wife Dora. Often when Mimmo was calling an order into the kitchen we would hear him holler “Mamma”.  It is a true family restaurant.IMG_3103

Last time we were there he introduced me to a wine made from the Caprettone grape from the area around Mount Vesuvius.  I really liked this wine and asked if he still had any. He said he had a wine made from this grape but from a different producer. So he brought over a bottle of the 2011 Caprettone from Casa Barone.



The food at Lo Stuzzichino is excellent. I ordered the ravioli again. There were six, two filled with cows milk ricotta, two from sheep and two from goat. Each pair had its own special sauce. Michele had pasta with potatoes and provolone cheese, a typical dish of the region, which she really enjoyed.

Antico Francischiello Restaurant is about 20 minutes by bus from Sorrento. It is a lovely restaurant with a great view of Capri and excellent traditional food so we returned again this year.



There was a group of Japanese tourists in the restaurant when we arrived that were having a very good time eating ravioli followed by whole fish roasted in a salt crust.  After lunch most of them ordered tea, which was served in teapots, and there were the small traditional teacups for them to drink from. The interior of the restaurant in very elegant and it is the only restaurant in the Sorrento area to be honored as one of the Historic Restaurants of Italy.

We started with a vegetable antipasto, which we had enjoyed the last time we were here, and it was just as we remembered it. The dish that was our favorite was home made pasta with artichokes and squid, something we have never had before.IMG_3142

They have a nice wine list but they were out of a number of things because they were waiting for a delivery. The owner recommended a Fiano di Avellino “Ventidui” 2011 from Villa Araiano and it was a good choice.

We also returned to Torre del Saraceno, which is one of the most expensive restaurants in the area. The tasting menu that we ordered was 125 Euros a person but there were ten courses. My favorite course was the risotto topped with crispy seaweed.  It is a very elegant restaurant and the service is excellent. The chef Gennaro Esposito travels a lot, and in March we saw him outside SD26 in NYC where he was doing a special dinner.IMG_3132

The wine I ordered was the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva 2006 Villa Bucci. 100% Verdicchio from vines which are 40 or 50 years old. This is a great white wine that I do not drink or write about often enough. It is aged for at least 1-1/2 years in Slavonian oak casks of 50 and 70 HL, very unusual for a white wine, plus in bottle for one year before release. It is very complex and elegant with hints of hazelnuts and honey and a touch of spice.IMG_3150

In Sorrento on the last day we returned to Restaurant Basilica. We sat outside in a corner table in the shade. I started with marinated white anchovies followed by pasta with scampi and tomatoes. Michele ordered mozzarella di bufala and said it was excellent. It looked so good that I had to order it, too.  It was delicious.IMG_3148

They had the 2004 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini, 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This is one of my favorite white wines and it was about $55, less than retail in NY so I had to drink it. The waiter could not get the cork out of the bottle so he had to push it in.  Then he decanted the wine so there was no way to chill it.  We drank it at room temperature and I enjoyed it so much that I will never chill this wine again.




Filed under anchovies, Antica Francischiello, Basilica restaurant, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lo Stuzzichino- Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, Restaurant REfood, Sorrento, Torre del Saraceno, Villa Bucci

Eating and Drinking Along the Costiera Amalfitana

Our first stop on the Costiera Amalfitana was Sorrento. Michele wanted to stay in Sorrento because there were a number of restaurants that she wanted to go to that could be reached by bus or by the Circumvesuviana, the train that goes from Sorrento to Naples.

Ricotta Ravioli

Before heading into the countryside, we tried a few restaurants in Sorrento.  Walking down the steps to the restaurants Il Buco di Giuseppe Aversa you notice the little platforms or terraces on different levels where you can dine. Since it was a nice night we decided to have dinner outdoors on one of the terraces.

The waiter spoke English and told us that during the winter months he worked in Florida. He gave us the English menu but we told him we wanted the Italian one since we did not understand the description of the dishes in English!

The food was a combination of traditional and innovative based on local ingredients. Two dishes that stood out: ricotta ravioli with a hint of lemon on a bed of escarole with an octopus ragu. The other was paccheri di Gragnano, large tubes of dried pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella and escarole.  Michele loved the tomato and fennel breadsticks, the escarole bread and the focaccia.

Paccheri di Gragano

They have an extensive wine list and we drank the  Pietramarina Etna Bianco Superiore DOCG 2008 from Benanti made from 100% Carracanti.

Restaurant La Basilica is a traditional style restaurant with a very good wine list. The dishes that stood out where the octopus in tomato sauce, the fried fish mixed grill and the grilled langoustine-some of the best I have had in Italy.

We drank the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC 2004 100% Trebbiano from Eduardo Valentini. It was 50 Euros, which is less than retail in NYC. The outside tables are on either side of a narrow street so there are always people walking past you. This can add to the charm as can the guitar player and singer, who was very good.

The Franco

Da Franco Pizzeria was recommended to us for pizza.  I ordered a Pizza Margarita, which was not very good. Michele ordered the Saltimbocca Franco- a sandwich made from pizza dough stuffed with melted mozzarella, tomato, prosciutto, and rughetta. It was terrific. We went back again and this time both of us ordered the Da Franco- Michele really liked it!

Our first trip out of town was to restaurant Antico Franceschiello in Messa Lubrense.  The bus ride to the town was only 20 minutes but when we were on our way there we were not sure if the restaurant was in the town of out of town. When we arrived in town we went to the tourist office and were told that the restaurant was almost 2kl in the direction of Sorrento and there would not be another bus for some time. It was a nice day so we decided to walk.

In the restaurant we sat at a corner table overlooking a lemon orchard with a fabulous view of Vesuvius and Capri.

The wine we drank was a Bianco Terra del Volturio IGP 2010 called 3-tre, punto trentatre 33(3.33). It is 100% Pellagrello Bianco and the producer is Tenuta Pezza Pane.  3.33 refers to the bushel, the ancient unit of measurement used in agriculture in the province of Caserta corresponding to 3.33 sq. ft.

We liked everything here especially the pasta with squid ink, the roasted peppers with eggplant filling–Michele said it was just like her grand mother’s only lighter–and the octopus with marinated artichokes.

One of the restaurants she wanted to go to was Lo Stuzzichino in Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi about a 30-minute ride by bus. We knew this restaurant was in the town and it was easy to locate.

The owner of the restaurant is Domenico (Mimmo) De Gregorio and he is also the sommelier. In the kitchen are his father Paolo, his mother Filomena and his wife Dora. Often when Mimmo was shouting an order to the kitchen he would holler “Mamma”.  It is a true family restaurant.


One of the dishes that stood out was the ravioli, some were made with cows milk ricotta and others with sheep milk ricotta and it was easy to tell the difference. The last course was a fillet of pezzogna and it just about knocked me over. It was the best fish fillet that I have had in years.

He suggested a Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2011 from  Vadiaperti. It was a full-bodied wine but it needed more time and did not open up until the end of the meal.

After lunch Mimmo and I had a long conversation about the wines of the area. He asked me if I have ever had wine made from the Caprettone or Catalanesca grapes and said they were cultivated in the heart of Mount Vesuvio. When I said that I hadn’t, he gave me a bottle of wine from Società Agricola Cantine Olivella. It was a Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2011 and it is made from the Caprettone grape. The name of the wine is Emblema.

I had never heard of either the winery or the grape variety.

Back in Sorrento I tried the wine again and I liked it. In a wine store I found another wine made from the Catalanesca grape from the same producer and it was only 9 Euros. More on these wines in another article.

Michele wanted to go to restaurant Torre del Saracino in Vico Equense. We had met the chef, Gennaro Esposito, in NYC when he was doing a demonstration and we liked the food. This time we called the restaurant and they told us to get off the circumversuviana the stop before Vico Equense and they would drive us down to the restaurant, which is on the beach.

The Pasta

This is a charming modern restaurant with excellent service and a great wine list. Michele liked the Pellagrello Bianco from Tenuta Pezza Paneso much that we ordered it again.

Fried Anchovies

We left the menu up to the chef and what followed was a wonderful 12-course lunch. Some of the dishes were: paccheri with fried anchovies on a sweet and sour onion sauce, scabbard fish alla parmigiana, pea soup with one ricotta dumpling, a lemon raviolo and with raw shrimp and lightly cooked calamari, and his famous fish soup with 10 pastas which we had in NYC.  The highlight of this great meal might have been the grilled monkfish and foie gras with lettuce, celery leaves and lemon cream sauce. The wine that they served with this course was a sweet wine the Muffato della Sala Umbria IGT 2007 from Marchesi Antinori made from 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Grechetto, Traminer and Riesling.

When I complimented the sommelier on the pairing he gave me two official looking papers to sign stating that I liked the combination! There were a number of desserts including a chocolate mold with mandarin and ricotta filling. To top it all off there was a chocolate cart with many different kinds of chocolate to try.

It was a fitting end to our stay in Sorrento and we were looked forward to our stay in Praiano, which is between Positano and Amalfi.



Filed under Amalifi Coast, Da Franco Pizzeria- Sorrento, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lo Stuzzichino- Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, Restaurant Antico Franceschiello, Restaurant Il Buco- Sorrento, Restaurant La Basilica- Sorrento, Restaurant Torre del Saracino- Vico Equense, Sorrento