New Speakeasy Dining Concept by Naples’ Chef Vincenzo Betulia Debuts on 5th Avenue South
July 30, 2023
Naples (July 30, 2023) — The liquor’s not bootlegged moonshine, but in other ways the new dining concept from Naples’ Chef Vincenzo Betulia recalls a Prohibition-era speakeasy, clandestine and accessible only through a back door.
The new concept is the 18-seat Rouge, a secluded space tucked in the back corner of The French restaurant at 365 5th Avenue South in Naples.
“The space has been used for overflow dining and semi-private events, but was otherwise full of possibilities,” commented Chef Vincenzo. “My creative wheels started turning. What can I so with space in the back of a restaurant with its own door,” he asked himself. “The idea for a speakeasy was conceived.”
Inspired by the speakeasy vibes of the 1920s and today, the chef has debuted Rouge as a concept within a concept. “We opened quietly at the end of July. Speakeasies don’t promote they exist,” adds Chef Vincenzo.
While passwords are not necessary, Rouge diners must text or call a special phone number for reservations. Reservations may not be made online nor taken at The French.
The phone number is 239-315-3368. Dinner is served Wednesday through Saturday, 5 to 9 p.m.
Rouge Menu Notes
The Rouge menu, in a departure from the limited menus of original speakeasies, offers a lavish, contemporary haute cuisine dining experience. It features a wide array of time-honored starters, soups and salads, sides, and composed entrees.
Beef is the heart of the menu, with five entrees of Wagyu and prime cuts, including filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip #4, New York strip #7, and a veal rib chop. There are also two beef entrees to be shared: a prime porterhouse, and a Wagyu tomahawk. Sauces include bearnaise, bordelaise, and au poivre.
The steak entrees are expanded with additions such as Maine Cold Water lobster tail, roasted bone marrow canoe and seared foie gras.
The menu’s abundant offerings also feature classics including The French’s acclaimed steak tartare, shrimp cocktail, and an extravagant seafood tower of oysters, shrimp, crab legs, tuna tartare, salmon crudo, and lobster.
In the soup and salad category, diners can choose from among a lobster bisque, baked onion soup, Caesar salad, and wedge salad.
“While beef is the paramount focus,” Chef Vincenzo said, “there are also composed entrees like Mediterranean branzino, Poulet a la Basquaise (roasted chicken Basque style), and beef short rib bourguignon.
Prices for starters are $22-$30; beef entrees are $52-$68 and $150 for two; composed entrees are $32-$52, and sides are $14.
Inside the intimate space, dim lighting and walls draped in red velvet achieve the effect of being veiled in darkness. Linen-skirted tables, crystal glassware, table florals, red leather banquettes, and rich wood trim give Rouge an elegant and sensuous personality.
The outside walls and doors are swathed in ivy. The only visible signal that one has arrived are small red neon letters spelling Rouge, nestled in the outside greenery. Diners are personally greeted at the door and escorted to their tables.
Rouge Wine & Cocktails
The celebration of spirits is natural for the Prohibition-themed Rouge. The elevated wine program was developed by Campagna Hospitality Group’s beverage director, Marcello Palazzi, and sommelier Alain Rabault. Wines by the glass are poured with Coravin technology, which extracts the wine without pulling the cork and altering the flavor profile.
The Coravin system allows Rouge diners to enjoy rare wines that are not normally offered by the glass, and to pair different wines with meal courses. Initially six wines are featured – two Italian, two French and two Californian – including Damilano Barolo 2015, Chateau Latour 2014 and Opus One 2018. Diners may also order wines by the bottle.
“The wine selection focuses on full-bodied wines that have more complex flavors and a richer mouthfeel. Examples include red blends from Napa Valley, Italy and Bordeaux,” said Palazzi, who noted that the wines will be rotated regularly by vintage, production and style.
Classic cocktails served in cut crystal, gold rimmed rocks glasses include gin gimlet, vesper, negroni, Manhattan, old fashioned, and sidecar.
About Campagna Hospitality Group and Chef Vincenzo Betulia
Rouge will be the sixth culinary concept developed by Chef Vincenzo Betulia in Naples in the past decade, joining Osteria Tulia, Bar Tulia 5th Avenue South, The French, Bar Tulia Mercato, and Tulia Catering. All culinary operations are part of Campagna Hospitality Group, owned by a small group of partners and foodies, including Chef Vincenzo. With the support of a highly skilled and dedicated team, Campagna Hospitality has become a leader in Naples’ culinary evolution, consistently setting new trends and delivering high quality food and service across its concepts.
Vincenzo Betulia began his career at age 14 with an after-school job in Paul and Joe Bartolotta’s Ristorante Bartolotta, in Milwaukee. By age 15, he held a prized spot on the pizza line. He ultimately attained the chef position, became a Bartolotta protégé, and helped open two additional Bartolotta restaurants in Milwaukee, including the James Beard award-winning Lake Park Bistro serving classic French country fare.
While attending the Kendall Culinary School in Chicago, Chef Vincenzo further honed his skills at Bartolotta’s acclaimed Spiaggia. In Chicago, and later in Milwaukee, he worked with Michael White, a fellow Kendall alum and another Bartolotta protégé, acclaimed for New York City restaurants including Marea, Ai Fiori and Osteria Morini.
On a vacation in Naples, Florida, Chef Vincenzo fell in love with the area and secured a chef’s position at Campiello, a staple on the Naples dining scene. He worked his way up to head chef, a position he held for nine years before opening his namesake restaurant, Osteria Tulia, in January 2013, followed by Bar Tulia in December 2014, The French in January 2017, Bar Tulia Mercato in April 2021, Tulia Catering in October 2022, and Rouge in July 2023.
For more information on Campagna Hospitality Group, visit CampagnaHospitalityGroup.com.