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A fire crackling in a marble hearth creates a warm atmosphere while you dine at  Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone. Located in the Parco Azzurro apartment complex, it is off the beaten path in Pozzuoli, Italy.
A fire crackling in a marble hearth creates a warm atmosphere while you dine at Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone. Located in the Parco Azzurro apartment complex, it is off the beaten path in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
A fire crackling in a marble hearth creates a warm atmosphere while you dine at  Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone. Located in the Parco Azzurro apartment complex, it is off the beaten path in Pozzuoli, Italy.
A fire crackling in a marble hearth creates a warm atmosphere while you dine at Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone. Located in the Parco Azzurro apartment complex, it is off the beaten path in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
A trio of jumbo shrimp is one of many seafood choices at Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone in the Parco Azzurro apartment complex in Pozzuoli, Italy.
A trio of jumbo shrimp is one of many seafood choices at Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone in the Parco Azzurro apartment complex in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
The owner of Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone lights a fire to start the evening. You can choose from a variety of pizza, seafood and meat dishes at his restaurant located inside the Parco Azzurro apartment complex in Pozzuoli, Italy.
The owner of Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone lights a fire to start the evening. You can choose from a variety of pizza, seafood and meat dishes at his restaurant located inside the Parco Azzurro apartment complex in Pozzuoli, Italy. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)
A quiet evening at the Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone, which has diverse decor to go with its variety of pizza, seafood, meat dishes and desserts.
A quiet evening at the Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone, which has diverse decor to go with its variety of pizza, seafood, meat dishes and desserts. (Scott Wyland/Stars and Stripes)

Hidden gem is an oft-overused term that truly fits Ristorante Pizzeria Il Pentolone, which is nearly invisible unless you know where to look.

It’s tucked inside the Parco Azzurro, a gated apartment complex in Pozzuoli, west of Naples. You tell the gate guards “Il Pentolone,” as if it were a secret password, and they let you enter.

At the restaurant, a friendly, elderly waiter named Gennaro seated me near a marble hearth, where the owner lit a crackling fire. Later, I learned Gennaro has worked here for decades.

The mostly bilingual menu has a list of antipasti, lighter first dishes and more elaborate main courses as well as desserts.

Pizzas range in price from 2.60 euros ($3.20) for a margherita with cheese and basil to 9.30 euros ($11.45) for one topped with seafood.

First, or “primi,” dishes are mostly pastas, such as lasagna, shrimp linguine and macaroni with ham or sausage.

For a main course, the restaurant offers everything from grilled beef, lamb and sausages to grilled shrimp, swordfish and fried squid.

I ordered a mushroom pizza and grilled shrimp, both of which were larger than expected and delicious. The shrimp were as big as lobster tails. Gennaro served me a “special” red wine that was smooth and flavorful.

The total cost was 14.25 euros ($17.65). I was too full to order dessert.

Gennaro showed me a plaque of a letter written by an American colonel named Dan Clark, who enjoyed many culinary adventures with his wife here in the early 1990s.

“While life is not perfect anywhere, you are in a special haven that can provide a shelter from the storms that swirl around you,” Clark wrote. “Enjoy the friendships you have and let Gennaro know you appreciate his fine food and fellowship.”

wyland.scott@stripes.com

Address: Via Montenuovo Licola Patria, 138-Parco Azzurro, Pozzuoli 80078

Parking: Inside the apartment complex. Go to gate and tell the guard: “Il Pentolone.”

Hours: 5:30 p.m.–1 a.m. Closed Sundays.

Prices: 5-10 euros ($6.20-$12.50) for most pasta and main dishes.

Phone: +39 (0)81-867-8063

Web:facebook.com/ristopizzeriailpentolone

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