Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dolce & Salato- Naples' Italian Food Boutique


Dolce & Salato is Naples new casually upscale spot for for delicious Italian-style brunch and lunch while seated, and also for taking home the finest ingredients to cook at home.

 Co-owners, wonderful hosts and native Italians Agostino Nastasi and Natascia Marchesi have imported top Italian (and some French) products at reasonable prices, significantly upgrading the quality of some foods in town. The attractive stylish boutique is easy on the eyes, with a beautiful wooden floor, and tastefully organized
 displays. Have a hot espresso or coffee, or refreshingly cold lemonade.  Sample bite-sized mirlitons or a delicate airy meningue-like macaroon, and relax with bruschette, salad or a luscious sandwich on crisp French baguette. I’ll go for a cold Italian beer, or glass of Italian wine myself. It’s a friendly oasis for those who also want to learn more about Italian culture by chatting with Natascia or Agostino, perusing their goodly assortment of cooking and cultural magazines, and even by watching Italy’s answer to CNN and Fox; Sky TG24!
Some of  Many Magazines and Books

I’m no stranger to parts of France and Italy, and I can vouch for the freshness, authentic top quality and eye appeal of Dolce’s pastries and other baked goods. I can’t rave enough about the heavenly pear and chocolate pie, the Ricotta cheese cake’s taste and artful appearance, and the French baguette's fresh taste. The fact that Naples Italian community has made a beeline for Dolce & Salato shows that this is a magnet for lovers of delicious Italian cuisine who recognize reasonable prices.
Ricotta Cheese Cake, Chocolate and Pear Pie, and Mirlitons

Dolce & Salato has three main areas-the  fresh foods; fresh and bottled foods to take home and cook with (like high quality olive oils, pastas and all sorts of treats), and the catering arm.  All are ably handled by this pair of successful, former owners of New York City popular restaurants, who now seek Naples'  lower key pace.

For those not familiar with Naples, Dolce & Salato (Italian for Sweet and Savory) is the newest watering hole, anchoring Naples foot-friendly Fifth Avenue’s western end. Dolce is already  popular for its variety of salads, sandwiches cold cuts and cheeses that are prepared to order. This is accompanied by a goodly selection of beers, wines, coffee, espresso, and a wide variety of pastries. There are watered-down versions of espresso served in many spots. Below is my cup of espresso-this alone is worth a visit, just to know what a proper hot full-bodied espresso tastes like.  It's even better when nibbling on a fine chocolate!
  Salads run from $8 to $12, and include the caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil and a balsamic reduction; a traditional Caesar salad; baby spinach with goat cheese; or Romaine lettuce with crispy bacon, gorgonzola apples and walnuts in a light honey dressing. Sandwiches are served on French baguette with mixed greens salad and chips. Try the roasted porchetta, baby spinach and Grana Padano, or Prosciutto di Parma, Mozzarella, and tomato with basil-pesto sauce. Want a quick bite-go for bruschette- hot toasted baguette slices topped with goodies like diced tomatoes, garlic, mascarpone cheese, truffle oil, roasted red peppers and roasted pancetta and shaved Pecorino Sardo for $6-$9.95.

There was no shortage of regular customers buying while I was selecting my goodies-an assortment of imported Italian cold cuts, Italian cheeses, and mixed plates of both went flying out in time for supper!

There’s quite a few Italian beers (Menabrea, LaRosa, etc), some US and other imported beers to quench your thirst, and a goodly assortment of, what else, Italian wines, available by the glass or bottle. Chianti, Amarone, Soave, Valpolicella, and Barbaresco are there for the tasting.

Speaking of wine tasting, there’s wine tastings practically every month, with hors d’oeuvres. On October 22 at 5 pm, there will be a tasting of wines from Italy’s Piedmont region, with Opera Naples' tenor Livio Ferrari and a violinist for your pleasure.
 Italy’s Gradassi infused olive oils include rosemary, orange, lemon, peperoncino, basil and my favorite, truffle oil!
 Try a bottle of caramelized sweet onions. Organic dried pasta are supplied by Naples Pasta Company, the only non-imported goodie in the store.
 I like a fresh pasta at home, and all the ingredients are here-with some easy recipes to quickly whip up something fresh and delicious. When you cook with the best ingredients, you can taste the difference. To me, life is too short to settle for second best, especially when the pricing is reasonable.

Desserts/pastries include heavenly mirlitons - walnuts; almonds and pistachio; chocolate and chocolate chip’ and almond and vanilla were the day’s offerings on my first visit. The Ricotta cheese cake is heavenly, and the pear and chocolate pie/torte  is exquisitely delicious (above). The colorful palette of bite-size macaroons are a French delight for your palate, with flavors that include citrus, chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio (below).
Imported Macaroons

Torta Rustica
 Bring these to a friend’s home, and your selections will be the hit of the evening!

300 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 125, Naples, 300-0444,

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