A Naples Treasure, Ristorante Marino
You know you’ve found Ristorante/Pizzeria Marino near the Naples waterfront if you spot chef Salvatore crumbling bread crusts for the pigeons out front. (They flock near the front door after lunchtime for the bread – and waddle up to the kitchen door at noon for a handful of crushed spaghetti Salvatore has ready).
Those pigeons know where to find some of Naples best cucina genuina, affirmed by a long success story – and a multitude of clienti abituali.
Ferdinando (co-owner nowadays with brother Luigi) carries on a tradition of Neapolitan home cooking born in 1934 when grandfather Salvatore (and his brother Giovanni) opened a latteria here, selling milk, mozzarella and ricotta – and later, making breakfasts for American soldiers.
In 1976, Ferdinando’s father Adis — with his brother Giuseppe – added the pizzeria.
It’s always been a pair of brothers serving up the goodness at Ristorante Marino.
“And your wife, Ferdinando? Your mother, your nonna? Never in the restaurant?” Before Ferdinando could reply, a customer slicing his pizza interjected, “Mogli – meglio a casa!” (“Wives – better at home”).
At an adjacent table, a pair of elegantly dressed clienti abituali (working for la Regione della Campania) – in suits and ties – sliced into thick slices of pizza alla margherita.
When I asked them, “All this pizza at lunch? It seems that In most of Italy, pizza is ordered at dinner….?” , the older of the two smiled.
He replied, “Ma qui a Napoli, pizza a tutte le ore!” (“Here in Naples, pizza any tme!”) Ferdinando nodded agreement: “Qui a Napoli, c’e la cultura della pizza.”
Pizza-maker Ciro worked rapidly in front of the wood-burning oven, slapping discs of dough onto the marble top, flipping them, stretching them, topping the discs with tomatoes, basil, mozzarella,anchovies, pancetta, prosciutto, slivers of potatoes, or olives, depending on the pizza ordered.
On some, a final topping of fresh basil, on others, a sprinkle of oregano. On each one, a drizzle of olive oil. Young Japanese apprentice, Kenda – just two months on the job, but already “bravissimo”, affirmed Ciro – slid the dough discs into the bread oven on the paddle, timing perfectly the exit of the pizzas.
Now and then, sous-chef from Sri-Lanka, Azoka, popped out of the kitchen to deliver more tomatoes to the pizza-making duo.
The pizza selections tempted but I was here for the seafood – pasta alle vongole – and for the antipastos.
The two-level antipastos cart at the dining room entrance offered an array of tempting dishes to enjoy before the pasta. On the upper shelf, marinated anchovies, cold salad of clams and mussels, octopus tentacles in tomato/oregano sauce and other sea creatures cooked in an imaginative medley.
I picked up a plate and aimed for the lower shelf: a kaleidoscope array of vegetable antipastos, a feast for the eye, for the palate. Tender artichokes with capers and olives, roasted yellow and red bell peppers, escarole sautéed in olive oil with black olives, grilled eggplant, marinated zucchini.
Orbs of provola cheese and buffalo mozzarella flanked the vegetable antipastos and fresh fish to select for grilling. Just in case you’re still hungry……
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