26/01/2012 - Naples

La Stanza del Gusto

La Stanza del Gusto

This legendary Neapolitan eatery has always been a one-man show. Since the first Stanza, literally one room with a single table seating up to 12 which opened in 1996, and on through its various evolutions to the present old-town location, chef and philosopher Mario Avallone has framed his thoughts on eating and drinking, life, learning and human relationships.

With a warm and expansive personality, decades of culinary experience and an unorthodox approach to the trade, he prefers to be known as a cook, or just someone who works in the kitchens.

Cook … craft, skill, responsibility, exquisite endeavour of human beings, joy and tension.

Mario Avallone

La Stanza del Gusto occupies part of the same historic building as Hotel Piazza Bellini, with Squisitezze Cheesebar at street level. This is basically a deli where you can also sit and enjoy fantastic cheeseboards, cold cuts and some ready dishes, and drink a glass of wine or a microbrewery beer. It’s cheerful and informal, with an odd assortment of retro tables and chairs given new life and colour and lots to read on acres of blackboard. The restaurant proper on the floor above is barely a tad more formal, more uniformly 1950s; provisions liquid and solid are stored in the basement.

With more than a nod to the short supply chain and low food miles, Mario’s menus include curious, seasonal dishes with half-forgotten ingredients from the culinary traditions of Naples and Campania, mostly, or more generally of Italy and the Mediterranean, revisited and polished to a shine. Gastronomic specialities abound, sometimes in surprising combinations. Desserts are always fresh and delicious: try the Birramisù if it’s on (a beer-laced tiramisù …).

See the ample menu online complete with prices: Mario doesn’t come cheap, but legends generally don’t.

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