Launched in Minori by the Ruocco family, the new project welcomes guests from all over the world to their home to pass on the knowledge of the area’s gastronomic tradition.
By Anna Volpicelli, cover photo by Salvatore Guadagno
Sotto I Limoni’s activity started quietly about four years ago, that is, to make the culture and traditions of the Amalfi Coast known through food. “We wanted to work at home to transfer to the various foreigners who spend their vacations here the taste and flavor of living in southern Italy,” says Nicola Ruocco, creator together with his wife Andreina and sons Vittorio and Daniele of this project that offers cooking classes to groups of tourists.
A place of inclusion
A reality born in Minori inside their residence that with time has been transformed into a place of aggregation and sharing of local knowledge. On a terrace that overlooks the 2 hectares of land, including lemon groves, the garden, and the vegetable garden, Nicola and Andreina teach their guests how to prepare typical recipes of the Amalfi area. “Just as the fishermen take travelers around showing them the beauty of our sea and landscape and then offer them a meal with the catch of the day, so we want to do with this project. Show them how to prepare our culinary specialties, where the protagonist is Sfusato Amalfitano, which we use in almost all recipes,” says Nicola, 56, who before embarking on this adventure worked in the hospitality sector in luxury hotels on the Amalfi Coast, including Palazzo Avino in Ravello and the Agavi Hotel in Positano. “I’ve gained a lot of experience working closely with people from different parts of the world, and I’ve always wondered if I went to New York, what would I look for? I would want to find out what are the local typicalities. And this is what I try to communicate and transfer with the project. Guests come into my home,” he adds.
The ‘ndunderi with ragu and veggies, courtesy of Sotto I Limoni
Two courses are offered: the preparation of ‘ndunderi, Minori’s version of gnocco, and pizza. “My wife is mainly in charge of the classes related to pasta, while I’m in charge of the pizza ones since I studied to become a pizzaiolo,” Ruocco explains. In addition to the recipes, at the center of each class is the oven. “The oven has always been the heart of the kitchen since ancient times, where people made bread, leavened goods, dried vegetables, and cooked the meat. Around the oven, we prepare the various dishes.” The ‘ndunderi are processed following two recipes the classic one with meat sauce and the vegetarian one. “We show them how to make the pasta that is then seasoned with the Minorese meat sauce, with the roulade that we then put in the sauce and the sausage and ribs. On the other hand, the vegetarian version includes vegetables from our garden including peppers, eggplant, and zucchini,” explains Ruocco.
The wooden oven at Sotto I Limoni, courtesy of the company
On the other hand, creativity is applied in the class regarding pizza. “We show them how to make the dough giving special attention to manual skills. Then everyone chooses the various ingredients with which to dress the pizza. Every year we propose a pizza. The one for 2022 will be white with mozzarella, bresaola, yellow tomatoes, lemon zest, and a grating of grana cheese,” says Ruocco. After so much hard work, at the end of each class, we sit back and relax for a tasting of the prepared dishes accompanied by good wine and music. “Having fun and feeling good is part of every southern family, and we want to pass on the joy of sharing, too, and above all.”
Sotto I Limoni, via Torre 86, Minori (SA), email@example.com, sottoilimoni.com