A new family-owned Neapolitan food and beverage business is set to open at Oxford’s historic Covered Market on Sunday, 19 November.
Located in one of the market’s central units and named after the traditional Neapolitan amulet worn to bring good luck and prosperity, Il Corno will offer its guests two of the most characteristic street foods from the popular Neapolitan cuisine – panuozzi and taralli.
Panuozzi is a sandwich made with pizza dough that can be enriched with different fillings, and taralli is a salty snack food with a toroidal shape, which comes in different flavours and is made from animal fat or olive oil.
Originating from Naples’ tasty and genuine culinary tradition and its renowned customs of hospitality, owned and managed by the Clemente family, originally from Naples, Il Corno introduces new dining and aperitif concepts into the city of Oxford.
Il Corno also offers its customers the possibility to accompany the panuozzi and taralli with celebrated wines, liqueurs, and beverages from the Campania region and, more broadly, the South of Italy. It will also stock the famous Neapolitan babà al rum and offer Naples’ distinguished coffee, renowned for its persistent and strong taste.
The design of the premises is inspired by Neapolitan craftsmanship, with the display of handcrafted products representing symbols of the city’s tradition of superstition, including, first and foremost, the corno.
The business has a specific soundtrack playlist playing lounge, jazz, and bossa nova arrangements of popular traditional Neapolitan songs, from ‘‘O sole mio’ to ‘Tu si na cosa grande’. It also plans to organise events revolving around Neapolitan and, broadly, Southern Italian culture.
“A home of good fortune for its guests, a space where people are protected from the misfortunes of the outside world and are given the chance to experience a positive and heartening break from their everyday life, savouring exquisite food and beverages, while being immersed into a special cultural atmosphere. That’s Il Corno”, the owners say.
Il Corno comes from the corno (horn), a Neapolitan amulet worn to protect against the evil eye(malocchio) and bring good luck and prosperity.
Traditionally linked to Greek and Roman mythology, the corno owes its phallic shape to Priapus, a male fertility god with a gigantic male organ symbolising good fortune, and can be worn as jewellery, hung from the rear-view mirrors of cars, or, mostly, displayed at home.
Through its name, Il Corno wants to emphasise its deep-rooted Neapolitan essence and present itself as a home of good fortune for its clients, a place where good food comes with good luck.
Il Corno is a proudly owned family business run by the Clementes, originally from Naples: Fanny (the daughter and the mind), Franco (the father and the hands), and Barbara (the mother and the heart).
Born and raised in Naples, Fanny has lived in Oxford for the last 4 years to study for a DPhil in Italian literature and culture at the University of Oxford, gaining experience in the made-in-Italy food and beverages business during her studies.
Franco has a 40-year-old career as an engineer and architect specialising in Italian design. Barbara, the only Briton in the family, is a retired lecturer at the University of Naples with expertise in British tourism in Naples.
“As a researcher in Italian literature and culture, with an interest in Neapolitan culture, I have always been driven by the desire to investigate and share with others the history of my distinctive home culture.
“I realised that sharing my research among the academic community was not enough and that I wanted to reach a bigger audience, so I decided to make a bigger thing (and fuss) about it.
“That’s where Il Corno comes from, a dream that coincides with a mission: to bring local Neapolitan culture all the way from the bay of Naples to the heart of Oxford, starting from its unique food&beverages culture”, Fanny recounts.
“When Fanny proposed the project, both of us were making retirement plans, deciding which country to visit on our journey around the world. The more we talked about the project, the more we got passionate about it.
“Without us even realising it, we were back in Oxford, the place where it all started for us 40 years ago, in 1987, when we got married in Binsey Church, while Barbara was doing her PGCI course”, Franco and Barbara added.
Brought together by the desire to be ambassadors of Neapolitan cuisine and culture, the members of the Clemente Family have decided to join forces and use their expertise to build and deliver their passion-inspired venture. With their Neapolitan warmth, enthusiasm, and vitality (and distinctive foreign accent!), you will find yourselves immersed in the heart of Naples, relishing its unique food and beverage culture.
To recreate a Neapolitan atmosphere, the design of Il Corno will be entirely inspired by Neapolitan craftsmanship as showcased in the narrow street of San Gregorio Armeno in downtown Naples.
There, local craftsmen have been displaying their handcrafted products for decades: their signature work of art, the presepio napoletano (the nativity scene), and the symbols of the city’s tradition of superstition starting with the corno.
The unit will have a modern, essential and, at the same time, powerful design, translating the two souls of Naples’ cultural identity: its darker, esoteric side and its effervescent, vital side.
While the former will be conveyed through the colouring of the stall with Pompeian red, black, and Vesuvian lava-stone grey, the latter will be delivered through the display of the above-mentioned handcrafted products portraying symbols of Neapolitan culture and coming in different shapes and vivid colours.
Il Corno will open in the heart of Oxford city centre, in the Covered Market, amidst its other distinctive specialist traders providing cuisine and products from all over the world. It will be located at the centre of the Market between Gulp Fiction and The Market Tap by Tap Social.
Bringing its own unique selling proposition to the people of the city and allowing them to have a taste of Naples through its most characteristics local foods and drinks, Il Corno aims at enhancing the Covered Market’s already incredibly rich cultural diversity, providing it with that distinctive vitality and cheerfulness which is essential to the city of Naples and its people.
In particular, Il Corno wishes to align itself with the new vision set out for the Covered Market, planning to turn it into a “platform for independent, local businesses and dynamic start-ups”, offering “a range of locally-produced, high-quality and sustainable goods, food and drink, and fresh produce, and host a variety of art and performance-based cultural activities”.
“We believe that Il Corno will feel at home amidst the market’s other unique trades, further enhancing its already incredibly rich cultural diversity by supplying it with new, previously unseen, and delicious products, providing a platform for the promotion and spreading of Neapolitan culture.
“Generally speaking, we believe that a venture like ours, so deeply rooted in culture, is a perfect fit for Oxford. We are convinced that our business will add yet another element to the city’s incredibly multi-layered culture”, the owners say.
Il Corno will be open to the public from 11.00am to 5.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 11.00am to 11.00pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and from 11.00am to 4.00pm on Sundays. It will be closed on Tuesdays.