Food + Dining Main

Dining Review: Alberto's on Fifth

Somewhat lost among Naples’ downtown Italian restaurants, Alberto’s is a hidden treasure that turns out a number of superb dishes, including an exceptional taglierini.

BY September 30, 2014


When friends ask me for restaurant recommendations, I often point to Alberto’s on Fifth. Lost in a sea of other downtown Italian restaurants, Alberto’s sometimes seems to blend into
 the crowd. Don’t let that mislead you: The chef, who has previously earned acclaim at Sale e Pepe on Marco Island and boasts an outstanding culinary resume, and his kitchen consistently prepare superb food, touching on all the right notes with their flavors and ingredients. Desiring a bit of high-end Italian comfort, I set out recently to check in on one of my favorite places.

The two friends I was dining with confidently declared the scallops appetizer ($18) the winner of the three we sampled. I disagreed, only because I found the beef Carpaccio ($16) and mussels ($13) equally satisfying. The scallops were sublimely cooked, and presented with a terrifically sweet and nuanced sauce of porcini mushrooms and black truffle. The Carpaccio was served with an eggplant caponata and burrata, a lovely triumvirate of savory flavors. The mussels were tender and happily drowning in a bright and aromatic tomato broth, all the better for sopping up with pieces of warm bread. The first half of the Castello di Bossi Chianti ($60) we selected went down very easily among this feast.

Our favorite entree was a little clearer-cut. A house-made taglierini doused with rich and flavorful pesto and generously accentuated by enormous pieces of fresh lump crab ($28) was exceptional. This dish has been
a fixture on Alberto’s menu since its opening, and it is easy to see why. One friend’s only comment was that perhaps a heartier pasta, like a linguini, would hold up to the sauce a little better. A Chilean sea bass served over polenta and wild mushrooms ($32) and a pork chop with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes ($33) rounded out our entree selections. The fish was moist and flaky, with a nicely seared exterior; the pork was cooked just as ordered, a little
pink; and the accompaniments for both were skillfully prepared. We left little of anything on the plates by the time the server came to clear.

I’d wager that Alberto’s tiramisu ($8) could stand up against anyone’s best, amazingly light and creamy with the coffee essence evident but not over- powering. The apple crumb cake ($8) was, it seemed, oddly named, lacking anything resembling “cake” and looking—and tasting—more like apple pie without the bother of a crust. One bite of the warm, seasoned apples and vanilla ice cream, however, and any question about the name disappeared from thought. A champagne flute of Limoncello and gelato ($8) was just the palate cleansing we needed at the end of such a rich and satisfying dinner.

The only glitch in our evening was the less than excellent service at times. Particularly as the meal went on, we were less and less attended to, and the restaurant, while entertaining a smattering of tables throughout our meal, was certainly not brimming with customers on a summertime Monday. Our desserts, typically a straightforward course to plate and serve, took especially long to come. My friend who twice indicated he took his coffee ($2.95) black was still served cream and sugar. And in this day and age, it pains me when a server so blatantly favors the man at the table, particularly after I ordered the wine and appetizers for the table.

Ultimately, none of that detracted too significantly from an enjoyable evening. As we walked out more than a little overstuffed from the meal, I was certain I hadn’t steered anyone wrong with my previous recommendations. When people ask me where to eat, Alberto’s on Fifth will still be high on the list.


Alberto’s on Fifth, 868 Fifth Ave. S. Naples; (239) 430-1060, Open 5-10 p.m. daily. Outdoor dining. Reservations recommended during season. Wheelchair accessible.


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