This week’s restaurant, Napolese, 114 E. 49th St., offers a variety of tasty Italian-style options. But the dish that sets the restaurant apart is a classic favorite – pizza.
The name of the restaurant makes sense. Many of the dishes offered are inspired, appropriately, by the culinary tradition of the city of Naples. However, they are not limited to the traditions of the great Italian city.
“We do what we do and we do it well,” explains head chef Tyler Herald. “The idea is Naples, but we are trying to be what we are. We put our own spin on it. Is it exactly like food from Naples? No, but we feel that what we do, we do well, and that’s what keeps people coming back.”
According to dictionary.com, the appropriate word for something of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Naples is Neapolitan. Napolese has no literal translation, so it fits with this restaurant, which uses Neapolitan principles as sort of a guideline before adding its own unique twists.
In any case, the restaurant employs some basic culinary philosophies with universal appeal. One is using locally grown ingredients. According to Herald, the restaurant partners with several local growers; buying fresh produce from urban-based Big City Farms, Broad Ripple’s community gardens, and Butler Campus Farm (a small organic garden located on Butler University’s campus), among others.
Another is letting simple ingredients drive the flavor. “The menu is simple,” explains server Claire Morrison. “We use quality ingredients, so the food tastes fresh and good.”
These philosophies have paid off so far for Napolese, which has become a neighborhood favorite since it opened in April. Customer favorites include freshly made salads featuring homemade dressing, Neapolitan sandwiches on hearth-baked bread, and a tomato artichoke soup. A variety of beer and wine is offered to accompany any meal, and several desserts, including gelato made exclusively for Napolese and a sweet pizza featuring chocolaty Nutella, are available.
But, as you might have guessed by the title, the pizza is what sets Napolese apart. Several traditional favorites, including a basil-inspired margherita and classic pepperoni, have become hits. There are also several less traditional but equally popular pies, including smoked salmon pizza, which features roasted leeks, dill and capers in addition to the fish, and the Napolese Broken Yolk, which adds quail egg yolks to a traditional margherita.
I tried the Hamaker (which Herald pronounces as “haymaker”). It had what I define as the classic pizza ingredients – pepperoni, sausage and mushrooms – and it was awesome. The pepperoni was cut long ways so it resembled an oval more than a circle, and the heat of the restaurant’s wood stove made it nice and crispy. They used little, tiny, cute-looking mushrooms, which were also very good, and the sausage was extremely flavorful.
The price, ranging from $10-$14, is a little more towards the high end, but it is well worth it if you want some seriously good pizza. Call (317) 925-0765 or visit cafepatachou.com to learn more about this Northside restaurant.
You can e-mail comments to Aaron Rimstidt at email@example.com.