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Authentic Southern Italian Cuisine
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The Flavors of Campania

February 27, 2012 Carlino's Restaurant no comments

For visitors to New York, no trip would be complete without sampling the fantastic pizza. Regional cuisine makes visiting other parts of the country exciting, but imagine how much more of a cultural event a meal can be when that regional cuisine has developed for thousands of years. Although you’ll find delicacies from all over Italy on the menu, Carlino’s draws from the regional tradition of the Campania region of southern Italy.

San Marzano Tomato

San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano Tomatoes

Campania’s signature flavors start with the rich soil of the region. A mild, humid climate and fertile volcanic soil contribute to some of Italy’s finest produce. The most famous is probably the San Marzano tomato, a deep red version of the familiar fruit that thrives in Neapolitan fields. San Marzano tomatoes have few seeds and a pronounced flavor that perfectly balances sweetness and tartness to produce the perfect tomato sauce. Tomatoes of all varieties grow beautifully throughout Campania, but it’s the San Marzano tomato that serves as the inspiration for Campania’s tangy tomato-based sauces.

If tomato sauce has a soulmate, it might be mozzarella cheese. Campania is almost as famous for its fresh mozzarella as for its produce, and for similar reasons. Cattle feed on grasses from the same rich soil that produces those famous tomatoes; their milk makes smooth mozzarella cheese with just enough tang to let it stand up to a bold tomato sauce.

Insalata Caprese

Insalata Caprese

The techniques of dairy farmers in Campania have made their way to American shores so that you can enjoy the taste of fresh mozzarella in classics from Campania like the insalata Caprese and mozzarella with peppers. It’s no wonder that pizza’s ancestral home is in Campania, given the wealth of mozzarella and tomato sauce in the region.

The Bay of Naples embraces the sea, and the people of Campania embrace seafood dishes. Large, meaty clams fill the waters off the Campania coast, and Italian fishers have been making the most of them for centuries. Steamed clams with garlic, tomatoes and herbs from the surrounding fields make a simple, rustic dish that brings together the best of land and sea in one delicious plate. You’ll recognize this Campani delicacy on our menu at Carlino’s as clams Posillipo.

The next time you bite into a slice of pizza or spoon a clam from its shell, think about the generations of Campani chefs who elevated their regional cuisine into an art form. Your meal will taste even better when you understand its roots.

Carlo, Wali and all your friends at Carlino’s

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