08.07.2015. Best of the Coast
It defines itself as un negozio di alimentari – a grocery store. But that’s like calling Tiffany & Co a rock shop. Since it opened in 1992, La Tradizione in Seiano – a small frazione or satellite village of Vico Equense – has become the reference delicatessen and fine wine store for the Sorrento peninsula and the Amalfi Coast.
Husband-and-wife owners Salvatore Di Gennaro and Annamaria Cuomo have the perfect lineage for their line of work: he’s the son of a butcher, she the daughter of a cheesemaker. This was originally Salvatore’s dad’s shop; its transformation, he says, took place slowly and sustainably, as the couple began to specialise in carefully-sourced, top-quality local produce, as well as other, difficult-to-find specialities from all over Italy. Their first clients were local restaurant owners, or guests of hotels like Le Sirenuse who were searching for genuine foodie treats to take home, rather than the usual limoncello clichés.
Chefs know that Salvatore can get them the very best tartufo bianco, because he drives all the way to Alba in Piedmont, the capital of the Italian white truffle, to select it. Sometimes, regular clients with holiday homes in the area bring the couple delicacies from their own regions – a dentist from Udine recently turned up with a salami made by an artisanal producer on the Italo-Slovene border. But it’s the area from Naples to Paestum, a fertile hunting ground for small-scale, quality foodstuffs, that provides much of La Tradizione’s stock. Some are utterly traditional – including various types of salumi (cured meats and sausages), like the flavoursome capicollo of Agerola, made from pigs that are raised in the old-fashioned way, with plenty of space to roam.
“When I sell you a salume”, says Salvatore, “I can tell you what the pig it was made from was fed on, because I know the producer personally”. He points to a ham hanging from the ceiling: “that’s the result of hedgerow hay, good corn, and small quantities of whey – a by-product of the area’s cheese production – that gives a sweetness to the ham”. Even when they buy products like Parma ham in from other regions, the couple will often finish off the curing process themselves, in special caves with the right level of humidity. Cheeses sourced by Salvatore and Annamaria include a delicately smoked provola made by the Russo brothers and Giovanni Ciprodelli’s dense, tangy caciocavallo. And the selection of wines, many from niche Campanian producers, is one of the best you’ll find in the area, outside of a couple of hotel restaurants.
La Tradizione is essentially a shop, but between May and September they do deli lunches (all week) and dinners (Friday and Saturday only), served on a decked terrace area overlooking the road – something that underlines the authentic nature of this foodie holy grail, which has no need of scenery to make it an essential gourmet stopover.
Via Raffaele Bosco 969, Seiano, Vico Equense
+39 081 802 8437
Closed Tuesday; on Sunday, open only in the morning.
Pictures: © Roberto Salomone