What might draw your imagination to Italy’s third largest municipality, Naples? I remember the south of Italy like a warm breeze, with the freshest seafood, the lemon trees, the classic Neapolitan music, the smell of Italian spices, the fabulous architecture, and the incredibly tasty pizza. Expectations from the restaurant where the chef and owner is an Italian from Naples are, as such, high
It is mid-June and The Ukrainian Connoisseur Club (TUCC) is meeting to test out the fine food and wine of Via Napoli. Located on Sofiivska Street, the real estate rule of location, location, location applies here. Guests are removed from the noisy centre of Kyiv to a charming eatery with the food, interior, and atmosphere of southern Italy.
Italy in the Heart of Kyiv
Finding the venue is easy, just 500 metres up from Maidan. The entrance is via a courtyard, where you’ll be taken just slightly underground. Immediately the air is cooler, almost as if the breeze from the bay has been imported. The atmosphere is clean, unobtrusive, homely even. A small light sits atop each table, throwing a glow on the chequered cloth napkins folded atop clean crisp white tablecloths. A small wine rack peeks out from around the bar, and there is a showcase of desserts on display in a glass case. Already I have all I want, but I’ll wait for the main event.
Guests and Gorgonzola
I have not been to a TUCC event before, so as the guests arrive I greet each one with a smile and introduce myself. We easily strike up a conversation, talking about this or that; such is the appealing unpretentious nature of this group. We are called to the tables: dinner will shortly begin
I pick up the menu and am impressed. The feeling is that the chef has really made an attempt to prepare the best this evening, as though we were his own dinner guests back in Italy. The first selection is our antipasti: grilled green asparagus wrapped in Parma ham with Gorgonzola sauce, served with Cardinal Gran Rose Cristina. Foss Morai. The two are a lovely start to an already lovely evening, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Grilled green asparagus wrapped in parma ham and served with Gorgonzola sauce Cardinal Gran Rose “Christina”. Foss Marai
Homemade cavatelli served with vongole verace (clams), semi dried cherry tomatoes and basil Pinot Grigio 2018. De Stefani
Monkfish fillet wrapped with pancetta piacentina served with amatriciana jam and toasted almond flakes Piemonte Grigolino 2016, Fontanafredda
Mini Rum babà served with red berries and vanilla sauce ecchioflorio 2015, Cantine Florio
TOTAL 1 600 UAH
In Quick Succession
Homemade pasta appears on the table shortly following: cavatelli with vongole (clams), semi-dry cherry tomatoes, and basil, and served with a De Stephanie Pinot Grigio, 2018. The pasta is prepared wonderfully, light, and perfect for a summer’s evening.
The third plate to come is our main course: monkfish fillet wrapped in pieta piacentina, served with almond flakes, along with a Piedmont Grigolino 2016, Fontanafredda. Though monkfish is often termed one of the ugliest of fish, once skinned and trimmed it reveals a wonderful taste not unlike langoustines. This dish in particular is my favourite so far, and I am further impressed by the skill of the chef.
Make sure you try:
Risotto alla pescatora with mussels, shrimp and baby calamari – 319 UAH
Minestrone – Italian vegetable soup 79 UAH
Torta caprese – traditional chocolate pie made with almond flower – 99 UAH
On the One Hand
We finish the evening off with a mini rum babà served with red berries and vanilla sauce for dessert, washed down by sips of Vecchioflorio 2015, Cantina Florio. The price for the evening’s dinner comes to a round 1 600 UAH, which, along with the selection of wine we have enjoyed throughout the evening, I can’t fault.
If there are a few things that need attention, it might be that a selection of bread be placed on the table as you find in many Italian eateries; handcream could be places in the toilets; and background music turned on. And though I do recognise that the main objective of this restaurant is to make great food for guests – which is accomplished, to my taste – the interior must be worked on in more to make it a true favourite.
12.00 – 22.30 (except Monday)
+380 44 279 7911
The What’s On Checklist
English Menu ✔︎
English-speaking staff ✔︎
WO Rating ★★★★
TUCC Rating ★★★