You can never have too much of a good thing, at least as far as Fabrizio and Ingrid Aielli are concerned.
The couple first came to the Paradise Coast when chef Fabrizio cooked for the Naples Winter Wine Festival, and the seaside ambience and availability of fresh seafood immediately transported him back to his native Venice. After relocating here from Washington, D.C., the Aiellis opened Sea Salt in 2008, followed by Barbatella, a rustic trattoria, and an Italian steak house concept called Dorona. In December the Aielli Group opened its fourth Naples restaurant, Grappino, in the space formerly occupied by Timeless on Tamiami Trail North.
The name pays homage to grappa, the Italian pomace brandy that has become a sensation in current mixology. The restaurant features one of the country’s largest grappa bars, with a selection of more than 100 bottlings.
“Grappino combines the long tradition of grappa and Italian cuisine with simple Italian comfort food,” says corporate chef Jason Goddard, who developed the menu with Fabrizio. Highlights include a range of charcuterie and bruschetta, a selection of pastas and sauces that allows the diner to customize his or her own dish, and Roman-style pan pizza made using 24-hour cold-aged dough, which Goddard contends is “lighter, crispier, and easier for digestion.”
The Aiellis kept most of the original Naples cottage design but livened the interior with colorful touches such as Murano glass balloons. Above all, their goals are similar to what they hoped they’ve accomplished at their other restaurants. “Our aim is for Grappino to become another pillar in the Naples community,” says Ingrid, “where everyone is welcomed with delicious meals and good local causes are supported.”