When it comes to reflecting the cuisine available, some restaurants let their menu do the talking. While Italian restaurant Vecchia Napoli doesn’t stray too far away from shoehorned gaudiness, it is far from shy in its desire to communicate its source of inspiration.
The core of the restaurant’s decoration is constructed of wood and stone, in keeping with other establishments circling the Limassol Castle. Beyond that, the restaurant sports three decorative centrepieces to showcase its personality.
On the far wall of the ground level, a white background sports the stencilled face of Napoli legend Diego Maradona, accompanied by graffiti, including the phrase Il futuro non è scritto (the future is not written). The football theme continues upstairs with a giant photo of the Napoli squad from a few years ago decorating the wall, while a colourful image of the Procida coast and its palette-like houses adorns the wall next to it.
The menu will feel familiar to anyone who’s visited any decent Italian restaurant in the past, with an assortment of pasta dishes, Neapolitan style pizzas, calzones, salads and starters. While the dishes I tasted felt authentic enough to a non-Italian such as myself, you do feel that an item like the Burger Al Capone may not have originated from the Campania region.
To start with, we had the Crostini con Olive e Pomodoro, which is essentially toast with finely chopped tomatoes, herbs, garlic and olive puree. I requested to forego one of the aforementioned ingredients and the restaurant was more than happy to accommodate.
I had also asked them to suggest a glass of red wine to accompany and the Merlot they recommended was indeed more than satisfactory, particularly while sitting outside on a cool October evening. In fact, every patron was seated outside due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. However, I am not aware if this was mandatory or an optional implementation of common sense. For what it’s worth, the adjoining restaurants also appeared to have seated their clients in outside areas as well.
The crostini were a fine starter, suitable for two if the only desire is to snack on something while the main dishes are being prepared. More ravenous appetites should perhaps resort to ordering a second starter. A little detail that I appreciated was the balance between the bread’s softness with an adequately toasty crunch. Oftentimes, restaurants get overzealous with the toasting process, making the bread a tad too hard.
Two main dishes followed, the Calzone San Giuseppe and the Rigatoni al Ragù Classico Napoletano. The calzone, containing tomato sauce, mozzarella, caramelised onions, spicy salami and Grana Padano was lovely, both in terms of flavour as well as its broadly generous size.
If I had any qualms it would be the somewhat vacant outer corners of the calzone due to the majority of the ingredients being placed in the middle. However, the dough was nice enough on its own to make this a non-issue. You can also fiddle around with it to spread the sauce and fillings towards the edges.
The rigatoni surpassed the simple pomodoro pasta Italian restaurants serve as a seasonal favourite. The slow-cooked beef was soft and tasty, while the tomato sauce was rich in flavours infused by the beef braising process. I would definitely recommend this dish for non-vegan pasta lovers.
Finally, we tried the tiramisu for dessert, a coffee-flavoured Italian classic, which was more than alright. It was on the lighter, creamier side. No ladyfinger-derived crunch here, if that’s your sort of thing.
SPECIALTY Italian cuisine
WHERE Vecchia Napoli, Vasilissis Street, Limassol
WHEN Sunday to Thursday 6-11pm, Friday and Saturday 6-11:30pm, although the restaurant now shuts by 10.30 due to Covid restrictions
HOW MUCH €6 for small starters, €10-14 for pizzas and pastas, €25 for grilled items
CONTACT: 25 347171