La Tradizione, a shop for the best cheese and salumi in the Campagnia region.
How could I fail to fall in love with a store called La Tradizione? It is across the gulf from Naples, on the road to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, outside the town of Vico Equense. Always behind the counter are the owners, Salvatore de Gennaro and his wife, Annamaria Cuomo. Their marriage is perfect - certainly from a culinary perspective. His family raised pigs and made cured meats (salumi); her family made cheese. This couple's profound knowledge of regional products, obsession with quality, and enthusiasm are what make La Tradizione so special.
Salvatore and Annamaria sell uncommon microproduced cheeses like grotto-aged provolone del Monaco and a pecorino made from the milk of a rare breed of sheep (Laticauda) found around Caserta. I can never resist their just-made mozzarella, or the fresh ricotta that is packaged in adorable tiny woven baskets. Salvatore's father provides the pork for products such as ciccioli (cracklings), guanciale (salt-and-pepper-cured hog jowl), and salami. Annamaria, conscious that working women are pressed for time, sells semi-prepared dishes made with poultry, lamb, or pork. These include breaded cutlets, skewers alternating meat and vegetables, and herbed roasts, all ready to be cooked at home.
Travelers should look for culinary souvenirs: taralli (ring-shaped breads studded with almonds and black pepper), regional pasta shapes like candele (two-foot-long thick straws) and millerighe (short wide-ridged tubes) from the artisanal Gragnano cooperative, extra-virgin olive oil, local honey, hard-to-find Sorrento walnuts (legendary, they're among the best I've tasted), or sun-dried figs.
There is also an ample selection of wine from nearby vineyards, including favorite labels of mine such as Molettieri and Feudi di San Gregorio, some well-chosen gems from other regions, and spirits from Italy and beyond.
La Tradizione, via R. Bosco 969, Seiano di Vico Equense; tel. 39-081-802-8869, fax 39-081-802-9914.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
June 14, 2001