Navelli is a beautiful medieval hilltop village in the province of L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region of central Italy. It is renowned for the local saffron (red gold) production, which is used in many dishes you find here and all over the world.
A great restaurant to sample the typical local cuisine of Navelli is Antica Taverna Navelli. It is a hidden gem, situated just on the outskirts of town at Via dell O’steria 16. It was recommended by a local friend and fellow foodie.
The restaurant was opened in 2008 by owners Daniele and Gabriella. It’s adorable, cozy, quiet, and rustic, with vaulted ceilings exposed stone walls, tiled floors, and tables covered in white tablecloths. They can accommodate up to 60 people, but there was only one other table occupied when we dined there due to Covid19 limiting travel. We received a warm and friendly welcome, although very little English was spoken.
The place was spotless. The kitchen uses only the freshest ingredients because the products are actually grown locally. They follow the seasonality of the ingredients and respect the most authentic Abruzzo culinary traditions. Many of their dishes incorporate chickpeas and saffron, without neglecting seasonal vegetables, truffles, veal, lamb, pork, cheeses, cured meats desserts, and of course local wines. The menu items are from traditional Abruzzo recipes, and they add a little modern twist. If you have trouble communicating just tell them you want the specialties.
The menu is not large but has some great choices. We had deep-fried mozzarella and egg in a delicious tomato sauce. The farro salad with saffron, zucchini, mint, and cheese, was fabulous too. We ordered a fresh homemade “saffron guitar and pillow” pasta which is a specialty and we also had a whole-wheat fettuccine with ricotta, guanciale, and fresh truffle. For dessert, we had their rendition of tiramisu, which was not my favourite. We ordered a bottle of local Rosato wine which was perfect on such a HOT day.
The prices are ridiculously reasonable, the service was fast and polite, and the food is cooked with love and passion.