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The DLISH Table at Concettina ai Tre Santi All photos by Beatrice della Volpe
"If to cook is an act of love, as chef Lino Scarallo says, then two days in Naples is like a torrid love affair."
In mid May, I revisited the southern Italian city made famous for pizza margherita and for having an active volcano as its neighbour. But this time around, my adventure was part of a special tour curated by DLISH and Eleit—two companies with a shared passion for food and design. Together with a small group of fellow foodies and design lovers, we discovered the chefs, designers, and artisans behind the region’s artistic rebirth. More than just a cultural visit, it was also an introduction to The DLISH Table, a concept by company founder Mona Bavar where we gather people around the table to share stories, new experiences, and of course, food.
Like every trip to Naples, this one too begins from the very first step outside Centrale station. Hit by the warm sun, the sound of beeping traffic and locals yelling, the city shouts ‘welcome’ with its signature liveliness. It’s a shock to the system but once you get acclimatized it’s hard not to find beauty amidst the chaos. I forgo a taxi in favor of the metro and a short walk past Piazza Plebiscito, where there are already queues of people waiting for pizza fritta at Sorbillo. A few streets later and I’m at our hotel overlooking the sea and Castel dell’Ovo. The view paired with the late spring sunshine is a balm.
In the hotel lobby, I meet Eleit founder Titti Gallucci, who is on a mission to promote Naples and the Campania region through partnerships with culinary experts, artisans and designers. Over the next 48 hours, we’ll encounter some of the partners on Titti’s roster while raising a glass to her newest collaboration with DLISH.
Eleit founder Titti Gallucci with DLISH founder Mona Bavar at Palazzo Petrucci
The first stop on our tour is at Michelin-starred restaurant Palazzo Petrucci for aperitivo and dinner. The restaurant is located in one of Napoli's most beautiful buildings and thanks to the dedication of General Manager, Edoardo Trotta, the historical palazzo remains an important symbol of Naples. We are introduced to designers 400 GON, ceramic artisans BHUMI, and chef Lino Scarallo. Together, they have collaborated on a series of curiously-designed objects for Eleit that reimagines the ways in which to enjoy traditional Neapolitan food. Under the name ‘Riti’—meaning ‘rituals’—the collection comprises ‘Scarpetta’, an object shaped to catch dripping meatball sauce onto a small piece of bread, ‘Con-dita’, a sea-inspired piece created to perfectly hold finger food, and ‘Soffio’, a semi-cylindrical object complete with metal ‘stuzzichino’ to cool down a piping hot pizza fritta.
Celebrating The Riti Line at Palazzo Petrucci
As dusk sets in over views of the bay and the 17th century Palazzo Donn’Anna, we—very happily—try out the ceramic objects while tasting the simple yet elegant cuisine of Scarallo. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the wave-like ‘Con-dita’ makes an impression thanks to its intuitive design.
Chef Lino Scarallo, 400 GON, Bhumi & Titti Gallucci for The Riti Line
Our exploration of Neapolitan ceramics continues the next morning at Real Fabbrica di Capodimonte. Set in a wooded park north of Naples’ centre, it’s a historical institute dedicated to the preservation of ancient craftsmanship and ceramic art. First established as the Royal Ceramic Factory by King Carlo of Borbone in 1743, nowadays the institute is home to master ceramists as well as teenage students who are learning the art of decorative porcelain.
Students at Real Fabbrica di Capodimonte
We wander around the school and watch the students methodically mould, shape and paint. To an outsider, the process seems meditative. I make a mental promise to myself to enroll in an adult class the next time I’m in Naples. After seeing the students hard at work, we meet Raffaella Del Giudice, an architect who has designed a ceramic vessel called ‘PYXIS’ for storing and serving mozzarella. Articulated by sensual curves, the voluptuous vessel takes its name and inspiration from traditional Greek vascular art. Adding a Neapolitan twist, Raffaella has specially created PYXIS to drain off the excess moisture that comes with fresh buffalo mozzarella, or ‘white gold’ as it’s known around here.
Titti Gallucci, Raffaella Del Giudic and Valter Luca De Bartolomeis with PYXIS
We witness PYXIS in action just a short while later during lunch at pizzeria Concettina ai Tre Santi in the Sanità neighborhood. It must be said that good pizza is easy to find in Naples, but the experience at Concettina ai Tre Santi is something totally different. First formed by the eponymous Concettina in 1951, the pizzeria is now run by her great grandson Ciro Oliva, who has reinvented the place while still staying true to its traditional roots.
During our tasting session, Ciro and his team delight us with a seemingly endless array of dishes, all served with jokes and laughter. Highlights include pizza fritta laid on top of Neapolitan tomato sauce, a special mozzarella show starring PYXIS, and of course, the queen herself, Margherita. I only wish I had hollow legs to fit everything in.
The Pyxis mozzarella show at Concettina ai Tre Santi
Filled to the brim with pizza, the next stop on our tour is at the other end of the city on Rua Catalana. This historic street dates back to 1343 when Queen Joanna I of Anjou granted Catalan metalworkers their own road in an effort to boost trade in the Kingdom of Naples. Seven hundred years later and there’s only a small handful of artisans still working here, but with the same passion and dedication to their craft. Walking around is kind of like walking back in time. Their street-facing workshops are crammed with tools and materials—not to mention a poster of the city’s other queen, Sophia Loren—and their workspaces spill out onto the pavement.
Inside one of the workshops on Rua Catalana
It’s here on Rua Catalana where we first catch a glimpse of ‘La Famiglia Olivia’, the star of this trip and the protagonist of a new DLISH gift box produced in collaboration with Eleit. Conceived by Naples-born designer Astrid Luglio and handcrafted by these very same artisans in tin-plated brass and copper, La Famiglia Olivia is a collection of three objects—Elio, Gea, and Pigi—that invites users to savour the unique fragrance and taste of olive oil.
The Artisans of Rua Catalana & ‘La Famiglia Oliva’ collection
After watching the craftsmen solder and hammer, we leave Naples for Nerano, a charming fishing village on the Amalfi Coast past the tourist madness of Sorrento. We’re hosted at Michelin-starred restaurant La Taverna del Capitano by Campania’s first female sommelier Mariella Caputo and her brother, chef Alfonso Caputo. Together, the pair takes us on an exquisite culinary journey while Mariella’s husband and the restaurant’s maître di, Claudio, keeps us entertained. One of Claudio’s anecdotes includes Hollywood actor Tom Hanks, who apparently called La Taverna del Capitano’s Spaghetti alla Nerano the best thing he’s ever eaten. We press him for the secret recipe but sadly he doesn’t give it up.
La Taverna del Capitano’s famous Spaghetti alla Nerano
In between Claudio’s anecdotes and Alfonso’s sublime cuisine, Mariella gives us a demonstration of two pieces from La Famiglia Olivia collection: Elio, which she uses to expertly drizzle olive oil over sizzling fish, and Gea, which she fills up with oil for us to dip our bread into.
Mariella Caputo gives a demonstration of Elio, Midnight Plates by Eleit
We discover the third object, Pigi, the next morning with Antonio, the owner of an award-winning olive oil company called Le Colline Lubrensi. Antonio is a third generation olive farmer and oil producer, and the passion he has for his craft is clear from both the insights he shares with us and the taste of his oils. After showing us part of the production process, Antonio demonstrates how to hold Pigi in order to best awaken our olfactory senses. It’s the first time I’ve actually smelled olive oil and the experience gives a whole new meaning to the expression, ‘stop and smell the roses’.
Savoring olive oil with Antonio and Pigi
Before we finish this special tour of Naples, there’s only one thing we still need to see: buffalo mozzarella. For this, we head to local cheese producer, Il Turuziello. The family run business hosts workshops for visitors to experience how mozzarella and other cheeses are made–and of course to taste them too. Like every single person we’ve met on this trip, the De Gregorio family welcomes us with warmth, kindness, and a side of humour. The rocky ride to the farm in their Piaggio Ape—or ‘Ferrrari’ as they call it—stands out as a particularly memorable experience.
The mozzarella workshop at Il Turuziello
As our two day sojourn comes to an end, we drive back along the Amalfi Coast to Naples. It’s a bittersweet feeling to leave this place, and especially all the wonderful people we’ve met around each and every table. While the car winds around the coastal road, I look out across the shimmering azure sea and savour this view, this warmth, and this unquestionably Neapolitan joy of life.
The new Eleit X DLISH Famiglia Oliva Gift Box in the Amalfi Coast
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