I was all set to write the Paradise Post on something completely different this week—and then Bob and I had the pleasure of attending a small reception at the brand new, just opened Barbatella, the “Spirited Italian Trattoria” opened by Chef Fabrizio Aielli and his dynamic wife and partner, Ingrid, with Chef Dario Leo. Barbatella is the “baby sister” of the Aiellis’ first restaurant venture in Naples, Sea Salt, which is just up the block on Third Street South.
I was not sure what to expect from Barbatella, but I was immediately struck by how vibrant and inviting it was from the moment we stepped into the terrace/courtyard area, adorned with a gorgeous horse fountain. Barbatella is the combination of two separate buildings surrounding the fountain. The casual dining area, which used to be the Garden District Floral Shop, has wood tables and 150-year-old brick from Chicago on the floors and some of the walls. This building is also where gelato is served. We had the chance to sample a few flavors and every one was divine. The wine room, in the other building, is nothing short of a design masterpiece. In it, there are deep booths and long tables for dining. The Enomatic wine-tasting feature at the gorgeous copper bar will be a hit, I know. The bar was already crowded by the time we arrived. The only way I can describe it is that this part of Barbatella is comfortable and trendy, yet elegant. When you go, make sure you check out the ceiling—the decorative medallions are amazing.
We finally made it outside to a table on the outdoor terrace for dinner. This area is a plus because it’s set away from Third Street. It surrounds the horse fountain and is delightful. The waiter brought us my favorite bread—olive—along with the most wonderful olive oil. Bob and I each had the mixed green salad, the best dinner salad I have ever had. I never knew tomato, cucumber, red onion and feta cheese could taste so good. We shared the Vegetariana Pizza—one of nine pizzas on the menu. We gobbled that so quickly, one would have thought it was our last meal on earth … truly fantastic. Bob had hazelnut gelato with biscotti for dessert. Wow. We are definitely coming back to Barbatella.
Some quick facts: Barbatella is not only about pizza and gelato. The menu includes six pasta dishes, rotisserie meat choices (chicken, pork and duck), and five choices from the grill (lamb chops, salmon, swordfish, country ribs and beef tenderloin medallions). The flour used in the pizza dough is flown in from Italy and all ingredients are organic. The wines are fabulous. We had a bottle from Sicily that was awesome. Ingrid and Chef Fabrizio can be so proud of this new addition to the Sea Salt family. If you go—and you must—the location is 1290 Third Street South; phone 239-263-1955 (reservations will be required, I have a feeling) and the website is www.BarbatellaNaples.com.