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Saturday, June 6, 2015

IT'S "THE BOMB" ... Great meal, superior service, outstanding value ... as good as it gets for the price!

Pizzeria La Tavernetta
Viale San Modestino, 5
83013 Mercogliano, Italy
Phone: +39 0825 787020

Prices: $$$$$


Santuario di Montevirgine
My iPhone decided to go on the fritz again while my wife and I were spending the night at a hotel in Mercogliano, a hillside town about 30 miles (50 kliks) east of and a world away from Naples, Italy, after visiting the famous mountain top abbey called Santuario di Montevergine. The Abbey of Montevergine has been the site of religious orders dating back to the 12th Century and sits almost 5,000 above the base of Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. It was reportedly the hiding place of the Shroud of Turin during World War II and is home to the massive and celebrated Byzantine painting on wood of the "Madonna" (Blessed Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus).

Baked Scamorza and Porcini Mushrooms - €10
Anyway, back to my crappy iPhone. We were searching for a place to eat on TripAdvisor (because there was a dearth of reviews in the area on Yelp) and found an excellent option, Pizzeria La Tavernetta, which appeared to be in close proximity to our hotel, Hotel Mercurio. However, when I clicked on "Directions", both Google Maps and Waze could not pinpoint my location even though "Location Services" was enabled on my iPhone. So, we decided to do it the old fashioned way and ask the hotel desk clerk. He took us outside and pointed to the restaurant next door and sure enough, it was La Tavernetta ... HOOAH!

As we entered, we were greeted warmly by the pizzaiolo and one of the owners apparently. There was a smattering of occupied tables in the large dining room and a party of about 35 celebrating a birthday at the long table next to ours. I began to become concerned after 10-15 minutes of being mostly ignored by the waiter and thought about going elsewhere, but I knew he (the only waiter) was overwhelmed by the large group and decided to wait.  Am I glad we did!

Antipasto San Valentino - €8
The owner came over and apologized shortly thereafter and the young waiter was nothing less than superb from that point forward. We started with a bottle of mineral water, the local red wine, and the antipasto San Valentine (€8), a massive plate (plates actually) filled with various salamis, prosciutto, guanciale, two medium balls of mozzarella di buffala, two bruschette (plural of bruschetta, which is prounounced brew-sket-ah, not brew-shet-ah as most Americans do), black and green olives, as well as marinated and roasted mellenzane (eggplant), mushrooms, and carrots. Accompanied by a basket of bread, it was a feast in itself, well worth the €8, and we nearly filling before our main courses arrived.

My family comes from a town about ten miles away and the wine was a bit drier than the local wines made there, but it was dark, fruity, and robust, an excellent value at less than $5 a bottle.

Sausage and Frierielli Pizza - €6
I had been craving my favorite frierielli (broccoli rabe) and sausage pizza for over a month and seeing it on the menu had no other choice even though they have a nice selection of primi (pastas), secondi (meat dishes), and contorni (side dishes - potatoes, vegetables, etc). The pizza was as big as any I have had in Naples, the home of the best pizza in the world, and one of the best sausage and frierielli pizzas I have had, including Naples. The crust was perfect, thin yet firm and slightly crispy (unlike Roman pizza which is like eating a cracker with tomato and cheese) and was well covered with fresh mozzarella, broccoli rabe, and large chunks of fresh, sweet sausage. The waiter read my mind and offered "olio piccante" (a spicy olive oil flavored with peperoncini) before I could get the words out of my mouth, adding just the right amount of spice to accompany the perfect pizza.

My wife had the baked scamorza, a stronger tasting cousin of mozzarella found mostly in Southern Italy, and porcini mushrooms (€10) and again we were not disappointed. Two large melted balls of cheese topped with just the right amount of sauteed porcini mushrooms was filling and delicious.

We stopped to talk to the owners, brothers I take it, on the way out and were treated to a small complimentary glass of "digestivo", in this case a local green liquore reminiscent of absinthe, but made by the abbey monks from herbs found on the mountain slopes near Sanuario di Montevirgine - a perfect ending to an outstanding meal!

Unlike many reviewers, I give the maximum number of "bombs" (stars) rarely (as you can see from my rating distribution here and on Yelp combatcritic.yelp.com and TripAdvisor). My ratings are based strictly on "bang for the buck" and for €33 plus tip, this was a meal deserving my five-star rating and I can safely say that Pizzeria La Tavernetta is "THE BOMB"!

CombatCritic Gives Pizzeria La Tavernetta The Coveted 10 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!
Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor ... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

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Title: Great meal, superior service, outstanding value ... as good as it gets for the price!

Key Words: Pizzeria La Tavernetta, pizzeria, la, tavernetta, Apple, iPhone, pizza, pasta, antipasto, frierielli, broccoli, rabe, sausage, scamorza, Viale San Modestino, montevergine,

83013, Mercogliano, Italy, CombatCritic, TravelValue

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