Despite having lived in Italy for so many years it still surprises me to find really good food in the most unlikely of places – why this should be, I have no idea. After all, this is a country where eating well has been raised to an art form. I have always believed that there are three things important to every Italian – family, friends, and food, and not necessarily in that order.
Two weeks ago, our friends Marco and Maria invited us to Sunday lunch at a fish restaurant they had discovered in nearby Nazzano. Nazzano is a small village about 40 kilometres north of Rome and overlooks the Autostrada del Sole. There is a castle in Nazzano, the Tiber National Park lies nearby and it’s obviously good for hiking along trails in the park, with fantastic views over the Tiber Valley. And that’s pretty much it… except for Benvenuti Al Sud.
The restaurant has been decorated as a seaside trattoria in Naples (the owners are from Naples) with images of Diego Maradona (an honorary Neopolitan), Sophia Loren, and Eduardo De Filippo, and other luminaries.
Although Benvenuti Al Sud is well-known for its pizzas, its seafood is very good. For antipasti we had mussels, a seafood salad, the most incredible baccala in tomato sauce with olives, fried baby squid and fried anchovies. Everything was just delicious… and their homemade bread was perfect for sopping up all the delicious juices.
Maria had sold us on the classic Neopolitan seafood stew, which we duly ordered, and Marco had the scialatiello allo scoglio. Scialatello is a short, thick pasta typical of cuisine from Campania. The fresh pasta was served with a sauce of mussels, clams, shrimps, fish of the day, and tomatoes. It was absolutely sensational – whilst our fish stew was good, it wasn’t as good as Marco’s pasta. Unfortunately, he wolfed it down before I could take a photo of the plate (but I did get to taste a little).
Having eaten absolutely everything placed before us we really had no room for dessert. Maria did find space for a rum baba with lashings of cream which she pronounced to be fabulously indulgent. The rest of us managed a coffee…
The wine list was pretty extensive with a lot of white wines from northern Italy which paired very well with the fish.
This is not fine dining – it’s just really good food in a very relaxed and friendly environment. Make a reservation for lazy lunch out on the terrace (if the weather is fine) and enjoy everything that makes Italy so special. We can’t wait to go back.
The restaurant doesn’t have a website but you can find them on Facebook under Benevenuti Al Sud, Nazzano. The phone number is +39 0765 332108.