Spaghetti alla Nerano de Lo Scoglio are on the New Yorker.
It is striking when it happens – and has just happened – that the American magazine applies its narrative, elegant and ironic style to an Italian recipe. Spaghetti went Nerano, actually.
Indeed, to be precise, the spaghetti alla Nerano of the restaurant Lo Scoglio by Tommaso from Marina del Cantone. One of the beaches (the others are Recommone and Ieranto) of Nerano, itself part of the municipality of Massa Lubrense.
We are not far from Punta Campanella, where the roads of the Amalfi and Sorrento coasts collide and unravel.
SPAGHETTI ALLA NERANO DE LO SCOGLIO: THE STANLEY TUCCI FACTOR
Thanks to “Searching for Italy,” the episodic series that follows Stanley Tucci, a well-known actor of Italian descent, traveling the peninsula, the flow of Americans competing for restaurant tables has increased.
All with one thing in mind: enjoy spaghetti alla Nerano from Lo Scoglio.
They look at each other. They recognize each other. Then they say, “Stanley Tucci.” Or the neighbors hear them begging the waiters “everything Stanley Tucci ordered”.
Zucchini are not foodie superstars. Almost tasteless, they are content with the role of modest accompaniment or supporting actresses in other famous dishes. For example ratatouille.
But courgettes are the absolute protagonists of spaghetti alla Nerano, both in Lo Scoglio and in other restaurants in Marina del Cantone.
INCOMING AMERICAN? THE SCOGLIO WILL CARE ABOUT IT
The Lo Scoglio restaurant has an impressive terrace built over the bay. Elegant, tanned Italians argue there, very smiling in the selfies that frame the sea, husband, wife, lobsters and a bottle of Cristal.
They arrive with the boats of the fishermen who compete with the tourists in droves, or if they want to show themselves on board a yacht. Huge American VIPs who, once devoured the spaghetti alla Nerano de Lo Scoglio, happily patted their stomachs with their hands.
Like Steven Spielberg, who once freaked everyone out by showing up with Bruce Springsteen, while fans on the nearby beach sang Born in the USA.
When preparing spaghetti alla Nerano, the main goal is to make it tasty, without too much fuss. Nevertheless, various recipes circulate, even very personalized.
SPAGHETTI ALLA NERANO: BORN BY MARIA GRAZIA
The story goes that the dish was invented in the 1950s two hundred meters from Lo Scoglio beach. To be precise in the kitchen of Maria Grazia. The restaurant reinforces the theory with vintage newspaper clippings hanging on the walls.
In “Searchig for Italy” Stanley Tucci says he is very surprised by the addition of a knob of butter, in apparent contradiction with the original recipe, where the butter does not appear.
Even though it is mentioned as an ingredient to add “a touch of decadence” to the dish. Admittedly, butter is not very much in tune with the rules of Mediterranean cuisine.
COPY RECIPE FROM LOCAL RESTAURANTS
At Lo Scoglio da Tommaso, the preparation of spaghetti alla Nerano follows a precise ritual.
Spaghetti al dente preserved liquid (no, not other forms of pasta).
Light-coloured zucchini, the striped ones, cut into thin slices of a few millimeters before being fried. Fresh and fragrant basil.
The combination of local cheeses that makes the flavor slightly sweet and unique, usually consists of two types of caciocavallo and two of caciotta, both more and less seasoned, as well as a part of semi-dry provola.
WITHOUT PROVOLONE DEL MONACO
No provolone del Monaco, a pasta filata cheese credited with many versions of spaghetti alla Nerano, but too hot for the recipe.
The waiters quickly distribute the dish on the plates of the customers so that it remains very hot.
In Nerano there is also a starred restaurant The Captain’s Tavern. The chef, Alfonso Caputo, known for his extraordinary creativity, does not disdain to offer a simple and ultra creamy dish of spaghetti alla Nerano.
Daniel Ford, who wrote the long New Yorker article on Lo Scoglio’s spaghetti alla Nerano, noted that moving from the western to the eastern side of the bay, the ratio of zucchini to basil on the plate decreased.
At the western end, where Lo Scoglio is, the zucchini was slightly more charred, perhaps to enhance an ingredient’s tastelessness. As if these restaurants preferred a version of the recipe that was tastier and adapted to the winter season.
Instead across the bay, with the restaurant Maria Grazia as a point of reference, a light and a little more summery version of the dish is preferred, centered on basil.
With a healthy tip, local chefs suggest reducing the salt in the spaghetti cooking water. The cheeses included in the recipe are already quite salty, better not to overdo it.
SPAGHETTI ALLA NERANO DE LO SCOGLIO: THE PRICE
But perhaps the real secret of the dish lies more in the price than in the recipe. The many American tourists who arrived in the region this summer to taste the dish advocated by Stanley Tucci in his television program, spaghetti alla Nerano, do not worry about the price –20€ – quite high despite the low cost of ingredients.
Similar price in menu by Maria Grazia –€18 – whether or not this is where the dish was invented.
Local restaurateurs are said to apply a simple formula to calculate the fair price of spaghetti alla Nerano.
One euro multiplied by the length, in meters, of the boat or yacht on which the tourists arrive.
SPAGHETTI ALLA NERANO CREAMOSI: RECIPE
Recipe adapted from that of Lo Scoglio and other restaurants in Nerano.
- Medium zucchini cut into rounds: 700 g
- Sunflower oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Spaghetti: 320g
- Grated cheeses (such as aged Parmigiano Reggiano, Baby di Sorrento or Caciocavallo): 180 g
- Basil: a sprig and ⅘ fresh leaves
- Ground black pepper
Wash the courgettes and cut them into thin slices.
I brown them in plenty of sunflower oil, I put them on absorbent paper to remove the excess oil.
I throw the spaghetti in boiling water previously (slightly) salted.
In a non-stick pan, I put a clove of crushed garlic to fry in extra virgin oil.
I eliminate it and put the zucchini in the pan with a sprig of basil, I also eliminate this one.
I let it cook for a few minutes over low heat, after pouring a few ladlefuls of the pasta cooking water.
I drain the spaghetti after 4/5 minutes of cooking and pour them into the pan with the zucchini to finish cooking by adding another ladle of cooking water.
In the pan, off the heat, I add the cheeses previously grated with a little cooking water and wait for the pasta to lose a few degrees of temperature.
Towards the end, I add the basil leaves chopped by hand, dress and decorate with a few slices of zucchini in the sauce and a freshly ground black pepper.