With the help of Katie Parla’s website and Carla Capalbo’s book The Food and Wine Guide to Naples and Campania we decided to travel to the town of Melito Irpino, located a little over an hour away from Calitri for lunch at Di Pietro. Little did we know when we programmed the information into the gps that we asked for the “slow route” which was a lot slower than we had anticipated. Up and down through hill and dale, we traveled for well over an hour on roads that look liked someone’s rural driveway until we finally saw a sign for Di Pietro.
We arrived in town too early for lunch and so we strolled around and as soon as the restaurant opened we made our way to the dining room. We were warmly greeted by Enzo, the owner, who led us to our table. Being that we were on the early side of lunch we were the only diners in the room and Enzo took us under his wing.
We were asked if we wanted antipasto and of course I replied yes and so began the meal.
First we were served warm focaccia and a few minutes later came the salumi and cheese. Next came a warm slice of pizza reminiscent of my grandmother’s-topped with tomato sauce and dried oregano. A plate of sautéed baby artichokes followed and they disappeared shortly thereafter.
Enzo then served us bruschetta topped with fresh tomatoes and slices of vegetable tarts-one made with artichokes and the other with ricotta and fresh herbs. I could have eaten a big slice of each of these and been happy to call it a day. I have to try and recreate these now that I’m at home.
We never did see menu and I’m not sure they even have one but I felt confident putting our faith in Enzo. Of course the next course was pasta-handmade cavatell (traditional in this area) for me and ricotta filled ravioli for J. This is what pasta is supposed to taste like-a little bit chewy and lightly dressed with a tomato sauce. The ravioli held the creamiest ricotta and were melt in your mouth tender.
As much as I wanted to order a secondi (typically your meat or fish course), I just couldn’t eat another bite. Even though we declined dessert we were served a platter of biscotti and meringues. Enzo sat with us a bit longer and when we said we had to head out and asked for the check he insisted that we wait while his daughter prepared croccante for us. I’ve had this crispy nut confection before, but never as delicate and tasty as this one. She brought it to the table shaped in a little dome and proceeded to crack it into pieces and we devoured the entire plate!
As we approached the front of the room to pay our bill Enzo’s daughters joined us to say good bye and present us with a tin of their local olive oil and a bag full of the almond croccante. After three hours it was time to head home and I can say with certainly that next time we visit Calitri we will make the drive to Di Pietro. By the way-we found a much quicker route home!
If you find yourself in the Irpinia area of Campania you must plan on dining at Di Pietro. You will have a meal you’ll dream about later and Enzo will make you feel like an old friend.
Corso Italia, 8 Melito Irpino
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