Tandem is a restaurant just steps off of the main drag, Via Tribunali, in Napoli’s Centro Storico district. The restaurant is dedicated to Napoli’s claim to fame, ragu, or gravy, a slow-cooked tomato-based sauce with various cuts of meat like beef or pork. Tandem’s website says it is the first restaurant dedicated to only ragu, and that ragu is virtually unknown outside of Napoli. This latter statement is a fallacy, as ragu is known in other parts of Southern Italy and in the United States where millions of Neapolitan and Southern Italian immigrants settled over 100 years ago. Ragu is what is known in America as Sunday gravy.
At Tandem, the gravy is cooked for 6-8 hours similar to how it is cooked at home. Opened just three years ago, the restaurant is trendy and not to be missed for the visitor to Naples. It is a popular destination, so I would suggest a reservation. However, I did not have a reservation and was able to be seated immediately outside. (While I enjoyed dining outside because the restaurant is located on a side street with much local color, the general downside of dining outside in Napoli is the panhandler. Panhandlers in Napoli are more aggressive than the ones I’m used to in NYC, and unlike the ones in NYC, they don’t just want money, they are happy with food or anything you are willing to give them. I won’t get into a discussion on how one feels about panhandling, as people have different views, some see it as a nuisance and others want to take a more spiritual route and give. I tend to fall in the former camp–I’m a New Yorker–and it’s always good to have a healthy suspicion so you do not fall prey to crime. So yes, if you surmised that there was an aggressive panhandler there that night, you would be right. However, he eventually went away and he did not detract from the delightful experience.)
While ragu has meat in it, the great thing about Tandem is that there are plenty of vegetarian alternatives, including seitan.
My friend got the gnocchi with vegetarian ragu and provola. It was also delicious.
We shared grilled eggplant, and this was probably the best eggplant I’ve ever eaten.
We also shared grilled provola cheese from Sorrento that was wonderful.
If you are visiting Napoli, I highly recommend a visit to Tandem.