Our most memorable meal in Naples was without a doubt Concettina ai Tre Santi.
We took a taxi up to the Sanità District. It’s utterly charming — filled with markets and fruit stands along the streets. The restaurant gets very busy at night, so we went early for dinner by Italian standards and were seated right away.
As we flipped through the menu, we were disappointed because the tasting menu is by reservation only with a minimum of four people. Thankfully, we asked and they were so kind to accommodate us! They combined the traditional and innovative menus to create one of the most memorable meals we’ve ever had.
We started dinner with a pet nat wine and it became clear that Tre Santi has one of the best wine lists in Napoli. Not all of the wine is listed, so make sure you talk to Emanuela Labagnara, the sommelier, to find out what’s the best at the moment.
Chef Ciro Oliva, only 26, is a fourth-generation pizzaiolo working with his father, Antonio, who is still in the pizzeria. You may see him sitting at the door when you walk in. Ciro not only cranks out some of the best pies in Napoli, but he also supports his community by paying for English lessons for local children to help prevent them from getting involved with the Camorra.
Ciro personally delivered each course, with explanations of each dish. It included everything from traditional Margherita pizza to a pizza with butter and salmon topped with caviar and ice cream made with fried clams. One of our favorite innovative pizzas was “The Memory of Sunday” made with tomato, parsley, and creamy clam sauce. It was the best clam pizza we’ve ever had! Ciro encouraged us to “eat with hands, always.” He also incorporates experiences from cooking in places like Bangkok with his smoked tuna dish topped with lime zest.
The most memorable moment of the night was when he appeared carrying a large copper pot that looked like it had been cooking on the stove for hours. It was filled with the most flavorful octopus ragu. They placed a small copper pan in front of each of us along with a plate of pizza crusts that had been fried, perfect for dipping in the octopus ragu. We each ladled a spoon full of tomatoes, olives, and octopus into our individual pans and ate as much as we could. Ciro was kind enough to share the recipe and we’ve already made it at home on more than one occasion.
After our 12 course dinner, Ciro walked us over to see the dough room and the wine cellar. As we walked through the streets, Ciro waived to his friends in the pizzeria took the time to say hello and ask how their meal was. Simple. Well done. And Ciro is an amazing person, which makes us love his food even more.