In Napoli Mia!, Scottish performer and Naples familiar Phillip Contini sings Italian songs from and about Naples and its people. He’s accompanied by the excellent Be Happy Band. With charming and funny introductions to each song and funny stories about the people of Naples, Napoli Mia! is a little Italy hidden away in the heart of Edinburgh. Go to the dinner-cum-show and you get an excellent Neapolitan three course meal before the stories start, which is accompanied by the Be Happy Band’s charming renditions of well-known Italian numbers and classic Dean Martin tunes as well as other jazz and swing style pieces. It’s a delightful event that sells out every year and it’s not hard to see why.
Phillip Contini has a charming presence.
The décor in the VinCaffe Ristorante is overly white. I personally was hoping for a more rustic and homely feel but once the band start playing you soon forget about that as the Be Happy Band’s beautiful melodies make you feel right at home. The band consists of Jerry Ford on double bass, Stephen Coutts on the mandolin, David Vernon on accordion, Anne Evans on flute and Dick Lee on clarinet. Tunes played include Mambo Italiano, Funiculi Funicula, Everybody loves Somebody and even Jungle Book’s I Wanna Be Like You.
The food is wonderful with a starter of mini casatiello - a soft bread rolled with Parma ham and cheese - and a pizza fritta; a deep fried pizza dough which is wonderfully crisp on the outside but deliciously soft in the middle. It’s a lovely appetiser. There’s also a fine selection of wines available. For the main there is a choice of Pollo Alla Cacciatora - a seasoned chicken dish - or Gnocchi Napoletana. Both are cooked beautifully and are brimming with flavour. The dessert is a wonderful Pastiera Napoletana, a traditional Neapolitan cake which to folks from the British Isles will likely taste a bit like a lovely Christmas cake.
Once the dining is done and the band have had a small break they return again with Phillip Contini and Napoli Mia! begins. Phillip Contini has a charming presence. He spent much of his childhood in Naples and became enamoured with the culture and its people. His tales and songs are authentic and told with endearing affection, giving good and usually funny descriptions of the songs and what they’re about. Contini begins with a tale about Mount Vesuvius. The love songs Contini sings are great, whilst tales about Naples’ Fish Market and the Lonely Shoe Shop are particularly memorable. He ends the night in celebratory style with great renditions of the more widely known songs Funiculi Funicula and Torna a Sorrento.
With great dining, beautiful Italian songs and enjoyable storytelling, Napoli Mia! is a mini Neapolitan getaway, perfect for couples and families.