Ristorante da Ciccio in Agropoli

"peasant food"

Sometimes my brothers and I give our mom grief for her ability to strike up a (long) conversation with anyone, even when it means holding up a line, but truthfully, her talent is an asset when traveling. From a Swiss-Tunisian laundromat owner extending an invitation to dinner, to a friendly Calabrian cooking for us out of a shack on the beach, my travel experiences are better thanks to her. 

One of these special moments occurred after wandering all around the Campanian town of Agropoli a few years ago. It was that awkward time between lunch and dinner when many restaurants in Europe are closed, but we were starving. After asking random people in the street where we should eat, an older woman recommended Ciccio and called him to see if he was open. Like everywhere else, he wasn't, but he offered to open his restaurant and feed the starving Americans. Ciccio's food is simple and represents the region and its history as a traditionally poor land. One of my favorite dishes consisted of crusty day-old bread revived with pungent olive oil , fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and imperfectly torn pieces of basil. Extravagant it was not- it represented peasant food of the region, but I felt like a queen eating it. 

As Ciccio's restaurant's website states, "The recipes of The Cilento represent a veritable ode to local products and traditions that are passed down the generations." There has been a lot of discussion about going back to the roots of a region, peasant food, and the like. The New York Times recently ran an article about an Italian DJ ("Donpasta") who's made it his mission to preserve Italian culinary traditions. He isn't interested in high cuisine or TV programs like Master Chef encroaching onto Italy's culinary scene. Neither is Ciccio. Ristorante da Ciccio does an excellent job of showing the region's simplicity and the food shines. We returned the following year for another great lunch and here are some of the things we ate.

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