Sign up with email


Already a member? Log in.

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Il Grottino (meaning “The Little Cave”) is a small wine bar located in an area of Naples still not explored by many tourists. Despite being situated in the heart of the old town, the upper Decumani area is off the beaten track and feels like a small oasis (hopefully for a long time to come). Here, we are just a few meters from the Naples Cathedral, and after feasting our eyes on its baroque beauty, Il Grottino is the perfect place to rest and enjoy a glass of wine and a bite.

Il Grottino was born in 1980 thanks to Antonio De Luca 64, and his wife Maria, 61. When he was 10 years old, Antonio, the son of a carpenter, started working as a shop boy in a local delicatessen. Each day, he would deliver wine and food to the housewives of the quarter.

He eventually left the delicatessen to serve in the military, returning at the age of 20. It was around that time that he and Maria got married and, almost immediately, the opportunity of their lives presented itself – the chance to take over an old neighborhood wine shop. The shop, originally started by a family named Sorrentino, had opened at the beginning of the 20th century and sold soft drinks and wines in bulk.

Antonio and Maria decided to invest in the wine shop, and have now been managing it for over 40 years. The shop has evolved over time; in the 1990s, they began to select higher quality wines – no longer did they stock only the simple bulk wine sold straight from the barrel, but also bottled wines, champagne, and select liqueurs. In 2000, their son, Marco, joined the family business, and Il Grottino continued to grow. They introduced the kitchen, turning the wine shop into a small tavern.

At first, Il Grottino served only cold dishes, such as platters of cheeses, cured meats and other artisanal products acquired from a farmer in Agerola, a famous village in the Lattari mountains in the center of the Amalfi Coast. At the same time, Antonio began to improve the selection of the wine cellar by adding not only Italian wines but also French, Spanish and Portuguese. All this in addition to Il Grottino’s house wine, an Aglianico – a red grape variety grown in the volcanic areas surrounding Naples. Antonio produces the wine with the help of friends from Avellino, a region next to Naples where southern Italy’s best Aglianico wine is produced.

The past few years have been very difficult for Il Grottino due to the Covid-19 lockdown in Naples. But things are looking up for the small restaurant as the city roars back to life – tourists have returned to throng the streets and Il Grottino beckons them in, a delightful place adorned with bottles in every corner and even signs hand-painted by Pasquale the “number man,” a longtime friend of Culinary Backstreets.

Marco, now 38 years old, still runs the kitchen, which serves simple, traditional Neapolitan dishes such as pasta and beans, pasta and potatoes, meatballs, and parmigiana. The dish that we recommend is the “Taste of Naples,” a sampler in which Antonio and Marco share a selection of traditional hot and cold plates.

On the sidewalk in front of Il Grottino, tables are set right under the church of San Giuseppe dei Ruffi, the church of the Sacramentine. Additionally, the family has renovated the interior which now is a wonderful dining room decorated with old furniture, including a barrel vault that sits underneath the monumental complex of the Convent of the Girolamini.

Today, what was used to be just a wine warehouse is now a beautiful 200-square-meter venue that can accommodate up to 40 people inside and around 20 people outside. Both visitors and residents come here for a good glass of Aglianico wine, for traditional Neapolitan dishes, and perhaps for an excellent grappa as well, hand-selected by Antonio.

  • Best Bites 2022: NaplesDecember 30, 2022 Best Bites 2022: Naples (0)
    Despite the difficulties of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the pandemic now feels far away […] Posted in Naples
  • BuattaMay 18, 2022 Buatta (0)
    Chef owner Angela Gargiulo calls her restaurant Buatta a trattoria di conversazione – a […] Posted in Naples
  • La Cantina di via SapienzaJanuary 20, 2022 La Cantina di via Sapienza (0)
    The requirements for a place to qualify as an authentic Neapolitan trattoria are simple: […] Posted in Naples
Gianni Cipriano and Sara Smarrazzo

Published on November 15, 2022

Related stories

December 30, 2022

Best Bites 2022: Naples

Naples | By Amedeo Colella
By Amedeo Colella
NaplesDespite the difficulties of the Covid-19 lockdowns, the pandemic now feels far away (even if it sometimes tries to raise its head). After months of empty streets, Naples is so full of tourists these days that some areas are nearly impossible to walk through. Hotels and B&Bs are full and restaurants and bars are doing…
May 18, 2022

Buatta: Comfort Food and Conversation in Vomero

Naples | By Amedeo Colella
By Amedeo Colella
NaplesChef owner Angela Gargiulo calls her restaurant Buatta a trattoria di conversazione – a “conversation eatery.” Tucked in a peaceful corner of Vomero, the Neapolitan shopping district, Buatta is “…a conversation restaurant in the true sense of the word,” Angela tells us. “After cooking, and now that I have excellent collaborators [to help] in the…
January 20, 2022

La Cantina di via Sapienza: The Real Deal

Naples | By Amedeo Colella
By Amedeo Colella
NaplesThe requirements for a place to qualify as an authentic Neapolitan trattoria are simple: It must be tiny, intimate and quiet, with a small menu and a genuine atmosphere. In other words, it must be La Cantina Di Via Sapienza. This is not a trattoria with fake antiques strategically placed inside to draw tourists or…
Select your currency
USD United States (US) dollar
EUR Euro