Pazzo’s vintage art posters bring guests closer to Italian culture and traditions
January 19, 2023
Curated collection of beautiful illustrations showing Italian liquors, foods and coastal towns bring a vibrancy and intimacy to the dining room spaces
Naples, FL: (January 16, 2023) . . . Cosi si mangia a Napoli! Translation: This is how we eat in Naples!
A meaningful interior design ingredient in the newly restored Pazzo! Cucina Italiana restaurant on Naples’ popular 5th Avenue South is its curated collection of 18 vintage Italian art posters that bring a vibrancy and intimacy to the dining room spaces.
“Art posters bring guests closer to the Italian culture and traditions and help create a mood that matches up with our cuisine and cocktails,” says Pazzo’s chef/owner Skip Quillen, founder of the award-winning Southwest Florida restaurant group that includes Chops City Grill and Yabba Island Grill on 5th Avenue South, Chops City Grill in Bonita Springs and The Saloon American Bistro in Coconut Point Shopping Center in Esero. “The posters are lighthearted and playful illustrations of Italian food, liquors and coastal towns adding a little bit of pazzo [crazy in Italian] to the dining experience,” he adds.
Some of the posters are nearly 100 years old. Most designs originated in Europe created by Italian-born artists living in Paris during the Belle Époque. Pazzo’s collection includes Italian labels like Campari aperitif, Cirio tomatoes and Strega liqueur. Six posters were designed by Italian-born Leonetto Cappiello, a talented graphic designer who focused on creating one simple image, often humorous, which would immediately capture the viewer’s attention and imagination. Thanks to his ability to create a brand identity using simple metaphors, eye-popping colors and geometric typefaces, Cappiello is known as the “father of modern advertising.” His style would dominate poster art until Art Deco in 1923.
A massive, framed print Pates Baroni by Cappiello anchors Pazzo’s main dining room wall. It is a brilliant advertisement for spaghetti, circa 1921, with its bright colors, buoyant ambiance and the utter exuberance of the harlequin character enticing diners to eat the pasta.
Building outward is a more delicate piece called Sassolino, a 1920s retro-style poster by Cappiello starring a jovial white clown juggling several bottles of the anise-flavored Italian dessert liquor Sassolino.
Bitter Campari displays Cappiello’s signature style of a bright dynamic figure floating on a black background. The jester in a red jumpsuit cleverly emerges from a larger-than-life orange peel, his face transformed into a smile with Campari in hand. Originally designed seven feet tall, Bitter Campari did not go unnoticed when unveiled on a busy Paris boulevard. This iconic design is still used by Campari’s marketing today.
One of the rarest and most beautiful Campari posters is Cordial Campari Milano featuring a comical character dressed in yellow suit drinking from a bottle of Campari’s ‘other’ product – a now-defunct raspberry flavored liqueur. The poster is Cappiello at his best and makes a strong impression when walking into the room.
No product has defined Italian cuisine more than the tomato, cleverly showcased in Cirio, an intensely vivid and wildly popular poster by Cappiello showing a woman in a colorful red and yellow dress leaping out of a can with a shower of red tomatoes.
A magnificent madam glides beneath an oversized glass of bubbling Contratto champagne in the Art Deco design for the Italian luxury beverage Contratto. Known for its smooth taste and endless sparkle, this aperitif floated down the throat of any lucky connoisseur. The movement in the madam’s crimson top dances playfully as her floral skirt flows beneath. Look closely to see the blue in her hair. Classic, cheeky, Cappiello. Always a surprise for a keen eye.
Campari Aperitivo by Italian illustrator Marcello Nizzoli is a Cubist masterpiece, circa 1910. On a black background, Nizzoli paints the bright red triangle-shaped Campari bottle on a table raked forward and down but the bottle and glass stay upright, lunging toward the viewer in gravity-defying space. While the product stands sturdily off to the left, the aperitif glass gets a fresh splash of soda water, creating the brand’s signature Campari Spritz cocktail. Nizzoli was also the chief designer for Olivetti in the 1930s and was responsible for designing the iconic Lettera 22 portable typewriter in 1950.
Olio Berio is an amusing illustration of a pudgy chef coscienza tranquilla – napping while dreaming of Filippo Berio olive oil bottle and tin can — by Italian Gino Boccasile, one of Cappiello’s former art students in Milan.
Maccheroni Pianigiani is a stunning poster by Italian painter Achille Luciano Mauzan centered on a cartoon character feeding on spaghetti off an oversized fork while announcing Cosi si mangia a Napoli! Translation: This is how we eat in Naples!
Strega by Marcello Dudovich, one of Italy’s greatest poster artists with his very distinctive and richly colored red style, created a poster in 1920 for Strega Liqueur picturing a full-length portrait of a woman with a rose gripped between her teeth. Strega, the Italian word for “witch,” was a natural choice for the name of the liqueur where the first sip fascinates, the second Strega!
Liquor Strega also by Dudovich is a masterpiece of Italian poster art. Using light in a staggeringly effective manner against flat tones and half-tones, he depicts a voluptuous woman leaning over to smell the aroma emanating from a small glass of liqueur. The way the light diffusing from the glass spreads all over the table and onto her body is handled in an exceptionally sensual manner. Her generous décolletage helps turn this simplest of gestures into an unforgettable, monumental act.
Plinio Codognato was one of the best Italian graphic artists of the 20th century. In 1916, he designed a spectacular poster depicting a red king-sized lobster holding a bottle of olive oil between its claws for Pietro Isnardi, a traditional olive oil company based in the Rivera di Ponente (Liguria). Thanks to the renowned quality of its oil, Isnardi became the official supplier of the Royal House of Italy and authorized to bear its coat of arms for the prestigious house of Savoy.
Aperitivo Rossi is a whimsical composition by Jean Droit, circa 1935, posing a bottle of Martini & Rossi’s aperitivo on top of a smiling orange with a face licking its lips. Droit was a prolific and popular artist, illustrator, writer and educator. His early work reflected the Art Nouveau style and after serving in WWI as a war artist and combatant, he worked in the Art Deco style in the 1920s and ’30s. This very attractive, brightly colored poster exemplifies the latter style.
The only Art Nouveau poster is Birra Milano by Italian artist Mario Borgoni, circa 1921. This striking image is for Birra Milano beer with a young Italian girl holding the beer and the famous Milan Cathedral as a backdrop.
Cirio Tomatoes Naples is a 1930 advertisement for canned food products with Italian tomatoes, pomodori or ‘apples of gold’ ripening in the warm sun in Naples, Italy with Mount Vesuvius looming in the background. Artist unknown.
Three travel posters are also included in the collection: Mermaid Siren Ocean Sea Boat Sicily for the Italy Travel Tourism bureau; San Remo designed by Borgoni for the Italian tourism agency ENITE showing to advantage the San Remo coastline from a terrace in the 1920s and Capri Island, a retro-style illustration of the scenic overlook at the end of Via Tragara where three separate limestone stacks are visible in the water on the way to Capri nearby the flower-filled Gardens of Augustus along the Bay of Naples.
Pazzo’s dining room walls were refinished fresco-style by Naples faux abstract artist Shiree Nicole applying several thin layers of textured plaster with a hand trowel. Plaster was chosen because it is one of the most versatile and decorative surface treatments and provides additional sound proofing. Nicole used a clear coat directly onto the wet plaster so that the paint became an integral part of the plaster. Walls were further enriched by numerous coatings of metallic gold paint with a touch of green. The collection is hung without frames throughout the dining room and into the hallway connecting the bar.
Founded in 1995, Pazzo! Cucina Italiana is Naples’ oldest Italian restaurant, located on 853 5th Avenue South in Naples, Fla, taking inspiration from the cuisines of northern and southern Italy offering one-of-a-kind antipasti, crudos and salads, daily house made pastas and pizzas along with fresh grilled fish, steaks and chops.
An affordable wine list is complemented by innovative craft cocktail lists with everything from Negronis and Bellinis to sorbettos and unique Italian liqueur flights. Indoor and al fresco dining options available 5 pm until 9 pm daily.
For reservations, call (239) 434-8494 or www.pazzocucinaitaliana.com.