The emotional cuisine of Lorenzo and Maria Elena

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, Russian, Danish and German painters landed in the Marina di Mulo, where the Roman emperors had built a pier for their quadriremis and liburnes, ships that connected the island with Baia and Naples.

To these artists, who painted the charm of that landscape that was once the land of the mermaids, the few inhabitants of that small seaside village always offered a glass of wine, for hospitality.

For decades, just a few families lived in Marina Piccola: the Desiderio (Marzianiello), the Spadari, the Arcucci, the Mellino and the Albanese.

The forefather of the Albanese Family, Ciro, founded the first beach club of Marina Piccola in Torre Saracena, in the early ‘900, entrusting it then to the management of his son Giovanni.

Later, but still in the early 1900s, he created cabins where the Bagni Internazionali now stand and, in the 1930s, the management passed to his son Salvatore. Him and Maria Mellino, called by all the “Mermaid of the Piccola Marina”, then expanded the structure to better welcome new summer tourists looking for sea and sun.

Even now, the taste of the sea and the flavors of Capri are felt at the restaurant Ciro and Bagni da Maria, in Marina Piccola. Ancient recipes of Caprese cuisine, jealously handed down from grandmother to granddaughter, come to life every day on these terraces overlooking the Faraglioni Stella, Di Mezzo and Scopulo, giants of rock and sentinels of the island of the mermaids.

Lorenzo Gargiulo and Maria Elena Federico are the heirs of this ancient island gastronomic tradition. Lorenzo, a chef from Anacapri, has been living in the kitchen since he was thirteen. “I have been working in this restaurant for twenty-four years – he underlines with pride – and in all this time I have always proposed to my affectionate customers a traditional cuisine, made of taste and flavors”.

The precious gifts offered by the sea and by the countryside of Capri are the raw materials that are present every day in Lorenzo’s kitchen. “In winter – he continues, smiling gracefully – in my home kitchen I experience new dishes with what I grow in the garden and with the fishes that my friends give me. My family is my rightful judge”.

This tasty Mulese cuisine, which has enchanted princes and queens, poets and famous painters, is made with devotion, discretion and passion.

The menu of the restaurant da Ciro is a magical encounter between the caprese sea and caprese nature: spaghetti alla Nerano, risotto with prawns and lemons, scialatielli with yellow tomatoes and red prawns, are the most loved dishes by the customers.

But one of the specialties, which best celebrates this union between sea and countryside, is the corteccia with mussels and wild asparagus capresi.

“This dish – says smiling Lorenzo – is a symphony of flavors and colors; it is a small raviolo that enhances the nature of Capri and your senses. But it is pastry the ancient passion of chef Lorenzo “My ricotta and lemon cake is never missing in the menu that every morning we prepare with the maitre”.

But the Bagni Internazionali, managed with love by Antonino Vaccaro, descendant of the Albanese lineage, together with his family, also has a terrace of pure taste, where Maria Elena Federico and her volcanic collaborators and friends reign. Talking to Maria Elena, the mind wanders in the flavors of our childhood and youth, when grandmothers and mothers pampered us with their dishes and snacks.

“I ask an ancient anacaprese oven to prepare these special bruschettoni and freselle with fennel, and then I add cheese, vegetables, salami and wild herbs of the caprese nature.

These fragrant and delicate taste, is enriched with a new entry every year: “Last year, in honor of a dear customer of mine, I created the Susan Crostone, with homemade lemon pesto, caprese tomatoes, oregano and fresh basil, parmesan flakes, mixed vegetables and potatoes. This year I created the Crostone Lighea, the sirena caprese, with paté of black olives from anacapri, cherry tomatoes of Tiberio, tuna, caprese arugula and capers of Mesola”. In the rich menu of this oasis of taste by the sea (snack bar does not really give the idea), eggplant parmigiana and the famous pizza Monacone are always present.

While greeting Lorenzo, Maria Elena and Antonino, I understood that the food is also a magical and secret place of our mind, made of memories and happiness.


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