Saturday, September 5, 2015

Palazzo Petrucci

Palazzo Petrucci restaurant was opened in 2007, in the former stables within the piazza San Domenico Maggiore, famous for its historical buildings, conspiracies, secrets and mysteries. The restaurant’s heart is the kitchen, renovated and furnished with a minimal style and an open plan design, intentionally meant to give the idea of connection and transparency, and to convey the care and passion that characterize Chef Lino’s dishes. The warm colors and sober elegance of the place reflect the background of a seasonal menu created using only premium ingredients.  We chose this Michelin star restaurant for our last dinner in Naples before returning home.

The interior is quite small, with limited tables.  There is  staircase that leads up to the kitchen high above.  I was expecting something a little more historic with character, but none of the old stables or plaza charm remained.  We were treated with an amuse bouche of Fried Duck Pâté with Lobster Carpaccio, Caviar, and Lemon Gelée.  The lobster was sweet and married perfectly with the briny caviar and salty pâté.

We were a little confused by the tasting menu option.  It appeared for 70 Euros or (110 Euros for higher quality ingredients like oysters) that one could order any item from each course - or allow the chef to choose for you.  But we had to order the exact same thing, which seemed to take the fun out of the whole experience to try different items.  Especially since I do not eat all the meat that Keith would eat.  So, we opted to order a la carte instead.   We asked to share an appetizer, Zucchine alla Scapece.  We expected a split plate, as we had at other high-end restaurants here in Italy, yet only one arrived and was placed directly in front of me. Clearly, our request to share did not come across.  Nevertheless, I shared some with Keith.  This light starter featured layers of raw zucchini marinated in extra-virgin olive oil.  It was placed on top crostone bread and topped with a ricotta filled tuille.  All in all, this dish had great flavor, and I only wish there was more for us to share.

Next, Keith enjoyed a Ricotta-stuffed Paccheri with Neapolitan Ragout and grated sheep ricotta.  The pasta was stacked up in a circular pattern to create this sculpture on the plate.  The Neapolitan sauce is made from seven types of meats stewed together.  It was a very rustic and warm dish that was presented more artfully.

I skipped the primi, and ordered a different pasta dish as my main.  Maruzze with Mussels stuffed with zucchini, cacio cheese, pepper and lemon.  This dish was amazing.  The conch shell-shaped pasta were cooked al dente and covered in a creamy lemony sauce.  The shell-less mussels were clean and delicately stuffed with the zucchini and cheese mixture.  So unique and lovely.

Keith enjoyed the Anise-flavored Duck Breast for his main dish.  Drizzled with radish sauce and sprinkled with currants, the plate also featured shredded celery and orange segments.  The meat was cooked expertly, medium-rare. There were many competing flavors, yet all seemed to go together within the same bite.  It was a showcase of textures as well.

Next, we segued to dessert with a complimentary lemon tart.  This little bite was a nice palate cleanser, with the tart and sweet lemon and blackberry.

From the dessert menu we ordered the It's not true but I believe it...!!! The name seemed to imply an illusion of some sort.  A red chili pepper made from chocolate was filled with vanilla Bavarian cream, and served with babà cake topped with chocolate ice cream and sour cherry sauce.  What a creative and fun dish!  The chili pepper shape fooled the brain into thinking the chocolate was spiced in some way, but I am not sure it really was.  We enjoyed cracking into the chocolate horn and coupling the sweet cream with the booze-soaked cake.  All together, this was an impeccable desert.  

Just to be sure we truly left full, we were treated to another sampling of sweets with our bill.  A hazelnut and coffee tart, a tiny macaron, an almond cookie and a mini cannoli.  The food at Palazzo Petrucci was high-quality yet not mind blowing, leaving me to question the Michelin status.  The food was overpriced as compared to most others place we'd dined at in Italy, but you're most likely paying for the reputation.  In hind sight, we might have ordered the tasting menu instead.  Service was professional with a touch of eliteness that could turn some off.  While I would have liked a little more classic Italian ambience, the location is convenient within the main plaza.

Total Rating: 3.7
Food: 4, Price: 3, Service: 4, Ambience: 3.5, Accessibility: 5

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