Looking for regional food in Campania? You’ve come to the right place! Last November, while trekking 350 miles / 563 km of the Via Francigena del Sud, I was blown away by what I saw. Campania farm fields, vineyards and olive orchards dazzled my eyes by day. Then at night, local cooks introduced me to the regional food in Campania. Finally, I truly tasted the scenery.
You see, sometimes, the beauty of incredible landscapes is difficult to digest. Can you think of times that’s happened to you? The remedy to this ailment is to actually taste the field greens, sniff the aromatics of local wine or sip the herbaceous liqueurs flavored with botanicals. Somehow, it helps you ingest the beauty of the surrounding countryside.
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Food in Campania Cheatsheet
As with almost all regional delicacies, the food in Campania is intrinsically linked to the land. Or nearby bodies of water. Here’s a shortlist of the Campania foods we discussed in my previous post A Touch of Italy | Essential Eats in Campania:
Here’s what we’ll discuss in this post:
- Aglianico red wine
- Cecatielli pasta
- Falanghina white wine
- Puparuoli ‘mbuttunati / stuffed papacella peppers
- Spaghetti alle vongole
- Vitulanese Pecorino sheep’s milk cheese
If you remember, where we last left off in the story, I was walking through the rain to Vitulano, and an undiscovered mountain town to the northeast of Naples. You won’t believe what happened next!
After hours of tramping through the rain, I decided I had enough–it was time to hitchhike. However, I’d only seen two cars all morning on this lonely stretch of road through Taburno Camposauro Regional Park. Just as I made my decision, a car rounded the mountain bend.
The small auto pulled off the road, and a big smile welcomed me inside the warm interior. The smile belonged to Niccola Matarazzo, my host at B&B Nonna Carmela in Vitulano.
Falanghina White Wine
After getting myself situated at the B&B, Anna Si Soto arrived to drive me to Moris Cafe. There she introduced me to Falanghina (fah-lahn-GEE-nah) white wine. Falanghina, an ancient grape mostly grown in Campania, is thought to be a variety stemming from the Falernian grape of Roman antiquity. I enjoyed the dry wine that hinted at orange peel. Then, I realized that these grapes could have come from the vineyards that I saw in Solopaca the day before.
Anna and her husband own Moris Cafe. My new friend also operates a company that will give you a customized food tour of Campania or Puglia. I highly recommend that you contact her. The enthusiastic expert has worked in the hospitality industry in London, Rome and Milan. Her contact info is at the end of this article.
Aglianico Red Wine
Since we’re on the local wine topic, let’s not forget Aglianico red wine. Aglianico “alli-yawn-nico”, similar to Cabernet Sauvignon, is very dark in color. I found it at a wine shop/bar in Faicchio two nights before when the pizza/burger joint where I ate sent me next door to buy wine. They did not serve wine at Joker87 Rosticceria, but you could bring your own. The folks at the wine store selected the Aglianico for me. The tannic wine stood up to the beef in the only Italian hamburger I ever ate.
Thank goodness Moris Cafe is a full-service restaurant and bar. They used downtime during COVID to completely revamp their back bar into an authentic Irish pub. It’s very trendy and comfortable. In the restaurant, I devoured their delicious wood-fired pizzas.
Pizza with Real Mozzarella
I ordered the 4 Formaggi or Four Cheese Pizza and asked that the chef add arugula. It was so amazing! It’s made with mozzarella, gorgonzola, grana (similar to Parmigiano) and Emmenthal (a Swiss-type cheese) and costs only 5 Euros. Can you believe that you get all that fresh yumminess for that price?
So then, what about the other local cheeses? Read on!
Vitulanese Pecorino: Sheep’s Milk Cheese
Vitulanese pecorino is a cheese made from sheep’s milk in the Vitulano area. The local cheese gains much attention as it is considered the finest grating cheese the world has ever known! The hard cheese is favored because it lasts longer than Grana or Parmigiano.
Vitulano pecorino cheeses rest for at least five months, but aging can last up to a year. I can almost taste the fresh grass in these amazing cheeses. Anna will lead you on a cheese tour if you wish.
I enjoyed pecorino on the charcuterie plate of my antipasto course at Dimora Tammaro bed and breakfast in Solopaca. See the photo above or to the left, whichever device you are on. The taste of pecorino reminds me of one of my favorite Spanish cheeses, Manchego, which is also made of sheep’s milk. Pecorino Vitulano is drier, however.
Ceccarelli, a fresh pasta formed with the index and ring fingers, is produced in the Benevento area. You’ll have to ask Anna about its legendary beginnings.
Puparuoli ‘mbuttunati / stuffed papacella peppers
Stuffed peppers became popular food in Campania in the Middle Ages when knights and pilgrims traveled through the area on the Via Francigena del Sud. The locals realized that the wanderers needed portable food, something they could carry with them. And so bread and maybe a bit of anchovy were stuffed into papacella, the local peppers and sold on street corners and markets.
Fast forward to today and the peasant food Puparuoli ‘mbuttunati are now stuffed with meat, eggplant or other refined ingredients.
Spaghetti alle vongole / Spaghetti with clams
One of my favorite Italian dishes, Spaghetti alle vongole, is part of the traditional Naples, Campania, cuisine. The small clams evoke the taste of the sea.
In conclusion, I was delighted and satiated by the fresh food in Campania. The local produce truly lent the flavors of the region’s earthiness. But why take my word for it? You should check out food in Campania on your own. Or better yet, contact my friend Anna Si Soto for personalized tastings and guided tours.
Puglia-Campania & Co.
- Via SS. Trinita, 82038 Vitulano BN, Italy
- +39 324 879 6458
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