During the festive season in Napoli families and friends get together to eat, drink, laugh and play the traditional game of La Tombola, a board game much like bingo, but with a Neapolitan twist.
La Tombola has evolved from a centuries-old method of interpreting dreams and predicting the future using the numbers one to ninety. Each number is represented by a symbol or picture with a particular meaning.
There are now many different versions of the game, but the numbers all retain their ancient definitions which represent anything from religious figures to naughty bits of the human anatomy! Each is illustrated on a colourful board and, although the racier ones are metaphorically represented, not much is left to the imagination…
Nowadays at Christmas time the game is played in homes throughout Napoli for lighthearted festive fun only. Gambling on the outcome is often involved and, when passionately competitive Neapolitans get together, heated arguments can often occur. Well, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the odd family spat!
Play La Tombola and win prizes!
Join our Neapolitan tradition and play La Tombola with us.
WIN A MEAL FOR TWO WITH DRINKS EVERY DAY*
Pick your number, enter by twitter by stating your number and meaning and including @RossopomodoroUK and #NeapolitanTombola. At 10pm we will draw the winning number and if our numbers match you win!
We shall have a Christmas Day Draw when five numbers will be selected at random and announced on Christmas day. Match 5 numbers from all your daily entries and you WIN A PIZZA MASTERCLASS FOR 5**, match 4 numbers from all your daily entries and you win one of two pairs of tickets for our Pizza Masterclass**.
*T&Cs: One entry per person per day; the prizes have no cash value. It includes 2 mains and 2 glasses of house wine or any soft drink. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer.
** T&Cs: One entry per day per person over the 3 weeks of the competition. No cash value. The Pizza masterclasses are held only in the London restaurants on a set calendar.
Have you ever tasted the traditional Neapolitan cake called Pastiera? Pastiera is a wheat cake made with ricotta cheese and candied oranges prepared by families throughout the Neapolitan region especially around Easter. There are several stories around the origins as far back as Constatine the Emperor however our favourite is the ancient legend of the siren Partenope.
The Legend of Partenope:
Partenope would rise from the water of the Gulf of Naples every Spring singing enchanting songs and delighting people with her voice. Apparently one year the people of Naples fell so in love with her songs that they decided to offer her the most precious products of their land. Seven of the most beautiful girls of the area gave the beautiful siren flour, ricotta, eggs, wheat, orange blossom water and spices, including cinnamon and sugar. Partenope, thrilled with her gifts, decided to return to her home under the sea and offer her gifts to the Gods. To honour her beauty the Gods mixed the ingredients together creating a cake as delicious as the voice of the siren; The Neopolitan Pastiera.
The Neapolitan Pastiera, priced £5.95 per portion, is available in Rossopomodoro restaurants in Camden, Chelsea, Covent Garden, Hoxton, Oxford Street, Swiss Cottage and Wandsworth until the end of April.
Napoli’s Porta Nolana fish market is crowded, chaotic, noisy and frenetic so, if you enjoy jostling, relish a riot, love it loud and fancy a frenzy, a visit is an experience you’ll savour. Of course. if you’re keen on fish and seafood it’s right up your street too. The market is near Piazza Nolana in the shadow of the two round towers that once guarded the ancient entrance to the city from the port.
Unlike London’s Billingsgate Fish market which is primarily for trade buyers, Napoli’s market is where local residents shop for the ingredients for their daily meals – the Neapolitan diet being so rich in seafood. Here they can find clams, mussels and oysters; shrimp, squid and octopus; sea bass and sword fish; anchovies and sardines – all freshly harvested from the sea and artfully displayed.
Live eels are a popular choice because Neapolitans aren’t as squeamish as the average Brit and don’t mind dispatching and gutting their own fish. However, for the price of a coffee, the expert fishmongers will do the filleting very swiftly for the more delicate shopper who’s not so keen on tackling a writhing eel with a cleaver!
Everything required for a meal is available too with an array of stalls selling fresh vegetables and fruit, meats and cheeses, breads and pastries.
If this had made you feel a tad peckish, head to Rossopomodoro – we always have something fishy on the menu.
This Sunday sees the biggest night in the film industry’s year – it’s the Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars. We reckoned this would be a good opportunity to throw the spotlight on some of the winners who’ve given world cinema a taste of Italian success in the past.
Let’s start with directors… Italian names read like a who’s who of Hollywood history: Bertolucci, Capra, Coppola, Fellini, Leone, Rossellini, Zeffirelli to list just a few. Back in the 1930s Frank Capra won the Best Director Oscar three times! Bernardo Bertolucci won more recently for ‘The Last Emperor’ in 1987.
Italians have had great success on the acting front too. Anna Magnani was the first Italian to win the Best Actress Oscar for ‘The Rose Tattoo’ and, of course, Neapolitan favourite Sophia Loren won the same award in 1961 for ‘Two Women’. Not until 1998 did an Italian win Best Actor – this was achieved by Roberto Benigni for his role in ‘Life is Beautiful’.
Musically, Italy has fared very well at the Oscars: Giorgio Moroder has scooped three awards for his scores and songs while Nino Rota picked up the Oscar in 1974 for his score for ‘The Godfather’.
Speaking of ‘The Godfather’, although strictly an American production, it’s as Italian as spaghetti and one of the most successful films of all time. It took the Best Picture Oscar and Marlon Brando won Best Actor although he turned it down! Director Francis Ford Coppola and supporting actor Al Pacino were nominated but sadly didn’t win.
This Sunday, look out for the Best Costume award. Italian Milena Canonero is hoping to win her fourth Oscar in this category which would make her the most successful Italian Oscar winner ever. We’re behind her all the way!
Italian cinema today is as highly regarded as ever and numerous films have been nominated and won Best Foreign Film Oscars in recent years. Rossopomodoro is proud to promote the best of Italian film both old and new at our regular RossoCinema events. We serve an authentic Neapolitan meal and then screen a classic movie in the original Italian with English subtitles. What you could call an Italian double feature… we hope to see you there soon.
Let‘s be honest, these days February 14 is a day for expressing love for your sweetheart in a slushily romantic way with big shiny cards, red roses and heart-shaped balloons. But who really was St Valentine and how did all this lovey-dovey sentimentality begin? Let’s get to the heart of it…
Everyone knows the Italians are renowned for their romantic, passionate nature, so it’s no surprise to learn that St Valentine was a Roman. He was a priest who was martyred back in AD 496, as legend would have it, because he’d been conducting clandestine weddings for Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry as Emperor Claudius wanted to keep his army strong. While in jail before he was executed, Valentine miraculously healed the jailkeeper’s blind daughter Julia. The legend says that on the evening before he was executed, Valentine wrote an impassioned message to the no longer blind Julia, signing it ‘Your Valentine’. This, of course, is now the way many senders sign their otherwise anonymous cards.
Many countries still celebrate St Valentine’s Day traditionally with a feast on February 14, but most people now associate the occasion with romantic gestures and the sending of cards. This custom originated in the UK and became increasingly poular during the prudish Victorian age when the new postal service and the anonimity of Valentine’s cards meant that somewhat risqué messages could be sent. Nowadays, many cynics think of Valentine’s Day as a ‘Hallmark’ holiday because of its commercialisation – in the US, for example, around 190 million cards are sent each year. No wonder card companies just love it!
At Rossopomodoro we have a foot in both camps – we reckon a feast is still the way to celebrate Valentine’s Day while we hold our hands up to being a tad gimmicky. But hey, how do you express your love more profoundly than with a heart-shaped pizza.
Our ‘Valentina’ pizza is topped with caviar, salmon and buffalo ricotta – an aphrodisiac combination to set pulses racing! Book a table for two for the 14th and we’ll get you loved-up even more with a free glass of Prosecco each.
The Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, Napoli’s Gallerie d’Italia, is as much a masterpiece as the works of art it houses. The ceiling details are astounding, so be careful not to knock over a priceless sculpture as you walk around gazing upwards in awe!
The gallery contains more than 120 works, which together provide an enlightening view of life in Napoli from the 17th century until the early 20th century. Most popular, of course, is the gallery’s collection of work by Caravaggio who spent several years in Napoli when he was exiled from Rome. Indeed ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula’, the last painting he completed before his death, hangs here.
The Caravaggio paintings should not, however, distract attention too long from the works by an impressive list of equally talented Italian artists.
A visit of at least four hours is recommended to soak up all the art on display, so before viewi
ng all these masterpieces, fuel up with a master pizza! You know where to find that…
With 150 years of service to Napoli’s literary elite (and countless tourists), Gran Caffe Gambrinus is a Neapolitan institution. A combination of the perfect location and a history as rich as its coffee make it an unmissable treat on a visit to the city.
Located on the famous Piazza Triste e Trento, the large interior space is famed for its sumptuous features that capture the spirit of the Belle Epoque with statues and a pretty glitzy ceiling. Popular in the past with writers and philosphers – among them Oscar Wilde – the Caffe today is still a meeting place for literary types whose conversations make for good eavesdropping!
Needless to say the coffee’s pretty good – they boast the best espresso in Napoli – served in posh china cups by nattily-dressed baristas and waiters. On a sunny day you can’t beat people watching from under the Gran Caffe Gambrinus awnings al fresco. Even if you have to pay a bit more for the experience, there‘s no cooler place in Napoli to kick back and relax – although that said, Rossopomodoro’s nearby!
Unless you’re Italian, opera’s like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. But for Italians it’s a passion and a cultural tradition to be proud of. Neapolitans are no exception and when you see the magnificent Opera House in Napoli you’ll discover why.
Teatro San Carlo is the oldest opera house in Europe still in continuous use and is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site – this puts it on a par with the Egyptian pyramids and Stonehenge! When it was commissioned by King Carlo III di Bourbone and built in 1737 it was the biggest opera house in the world with room for an audience of more than 3000.
Today, the building is still spectacular and its unique horseshoe-shaped interior has sweeping curves of tiered boxes rising six stories high. Adorned with exquisite red and gold decoration and a spectacular ceiling fresco, the magnificence of the theatre matches its pitch perfect acoustics and is rightly acclaimed as one of the world’s most important opera houses.
Napoli’s opera season, including performances by world class singers, begins at the end of January and isn’t over until the fat lady sings! (around May). Even if you don’t have tickets for a performance, a guided tour of this beautiful venue is a must on any visit to Napoli.