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Staj Noodle Bar in Naples’ Vomero neighborhood features a variety of Asian fusion dishes. The popular restaurant has many vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dishes, including ramen with fried tofu.
Staj Noodle Bar in Naples’ Vomero neighborhood features a variety of Asian fusion dishes. The popular restaurant has many vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dishes, including ramen with fried tofu. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

Even the most stalwart Italian food fan occasionally needs a break from pizza, pasta and mozzarella.

Staj Noodle Bar fills that niche with a surprising assortment of Asian-inspired dishes from stir-fried noodles to ramen and even bao.

The popular restaurant in Naple’s Vomero neighborhood, just a few blocks from the Chiaia funicular Cimarosa stop at Via Gian Lorenzo Bernini, features a sleek, minimalist decor as the backdrop for indoor and outdoor seating areas with attentive, friendly servers.  

One highlight of the menu: the variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes, which are hard to find in many Naples restaurants. Beer, wine and craft cocktails also are available.

Staj isn’t the easiest eatery on the wallet, though. For example, ramen bowls are priced at 15 euros.

We tried the steamed vegetable dumplings, which included two versions: three in a green wrapper with daikon, carrots, edamame and other vegetables and three in a white wrapper with cabbage, carrots and chives.

Appetizers at Staj Noodle Bar in Naples’ Vomero neighborhood include two different versions of vegetarian dumplings, Oct. 26, 2021.
Appetizers at Staj Noodle Bar in Naples’ Vomero neighborhood include two different versions of vegetarian dumplings, Oct. 26, 2021. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

Each featured crisp vegetables and good flavor, but overall, they were only slightly better than what could be found in a grocery store freezer aisle. Next time, I’ll try them pan- or deep-fried.

A better choice may have been the sweet potato fries with sweet chili sauce or, for seafood eaters, the takoyaki octopus fritters with wasabi mayo.

The mushroom bao were a standout. They consisted of two puffy bao “tacos” filled with nicely sauteed shitake mushrooms and fried onion flavored with a soy glaze and sriracha.

A highlight of the Staj Noodle Bar menu is a selection of bao, an Asian steamed bread roll, including this fried chicken version with aioli.
A highlight of the Staj Noodle Bar menu is a selection of bao, an Asian steamed bread roll, including this fried chicken version with aioli. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

Two of these along with a glass of Fiano di Avellino, a regional white wine, would make a satisfying appetizer or light meal.

They even were a hit with my meat-eating companions, who preferred them over the fried chicken bao with tartar sauce, pickles and sesame seeds. That dish earned a simple “good.”

A source of pride for Staj is its noodles, which are made fresh daily. And it was here that the restaurant came through nicely.

Ramen bowls featured well-made, thin noodles that didn’t lose their firmness as we ate.

Staj Noodle Bar’s shoyu ramen includes a chicken and dashi broth with braised pork shoulder and traditional sides such as an egg and fish cake. 
Staj Noodle Bar’s shoyu ramen includes a chicken and dashi broth with braised pork shoulder and traditional sides such as an egg and fish cake.  (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

The vegetable ramen included two small squares of tasty fried tofu — I found myself wanting more — pickled vegetables and greens. But the mushroom-and-kombu broth did not live up to expectations. It had a salty and unappealing taste.

The shoyu ramen, consisting of chicken and dashi broth with braised pork shoulder and the traditional egg and fish cake, was similarly underwhelming.

One of my dining companions, who lived for many years in Japan, said it was OK but a long way from authentic.

The pad thai, however, was delicious. The rice noodles were served with nicely cooked prawns and squid and accented with peanuts, lime and coriander. I thought it could have included more seafood, though.

Pad thai at Staj Noodle Bar in Naples features rice noodles, prawns and squid seasoned with peanuts, lime and coriander. 
Pad thai at Staj Noodle Bar in Naples features rice noodles, prawns and squid seasoned with peanuts, lime and coriander.  (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

Overall, Staj hits the high notes, with tasty noodles, an expert take on Asian street food and some of the best service in Naples.

But ramen is best made and eaten in Japan.

Staj Noodle Bar offers a minimalist vibe and Asian-inspired dishes for those who want a change from Italian fare in Naples' Vomero neighbhood.
Staj Noodle Bar offers a minimalist vibe and Asian-inspired dishes for those who want a change from Italian fare in Naples' Vomero neighbhood. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)
Staj Noodle Bar in Naples' trendy Vomero neighborhood offers a minimalist vibe and Asian-inspired dishes for those who want a change from Italian fare.
Staj Noodle Bar in Naples' trendy Vomero neighborhood offers a minimalist vibe and Asian-inspired dishes for those who want a change from Italian fare. (Alison Bath/Stars and Stripes)

Staj Noodle Bar, Vomero

Address:  Via Gian Lorenzo Bernini 87A, Naples, Italy 80129 (Note: another restaurant in Chiaia is closed for renovations)

Phone: +39 081-379-9194 (reservations strongly recommended, https://www.quandoo.it/en/place/staj-noodle-bar-vomero-90303?aid=63)

Hours: 7-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; closed Mondays

Menu: Available in Italian and English, https://staj.it/vomero/inglese/damangiare-inglese.pdf

Prices: Appetizers, 5-10 euros; bao, 8-10 euros; stir-fried noodles and ramen, 10-15 euros plus add-ons; specialty dishes, 10-15 euros; desserts, 5-8 euros.

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Alison Bath reports on the U.S. Navy, including U.S. 6th Fleet, in Europe and Africa. She has reported for a variety of publications in Montana, Nevada and Louisiana, and served as editor of newspapers in Louisiana, Oregon and Washington.
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