Writing a blog about glorious Italian restaurants is indeed a wonderful pleasure. Add to this pleasure the fact that these restaurants create their marvels of cuisine along the world’s most breath-taking coastline of Amalfi, and we are in the realm of ecstasy!
My Amalfi Coast Restaurant Guide
- L’Antica Pizzaria Da Michele, Naples
- Il Buco, Sorrento
- Antico Francischiello, Massa Lubrense
- Il Relais Blu, Massa Lubrense
- Next 2, Positano
- Il Pirata, Praiano
- Da Gemma, Amalfi
- L’Abside, Amalfi
- Rossellini’s, Ravello
The Amalfi Coast restaurants that are elegantly distributed across this peninsula, capture the essence of life in the Campania region of Italy. Delighted guests will enjoy dishes both tasteful and diverse. Before getting into the specifics of an Amalfi Coast restaurant guide, I want to first explain what it is that makes Italian food – in all its guises – so truly enjoyable.
Any discussion about food and cooking must always refer to the greatness of the French table. The complexity of sauces, the style with which dishes are constructed, all of this when executed well guarantees a flawless dining experience. The Italian experience is different. Where dishes are born out of a classical foundation in France, in Italy they are a volcanic explosion of flavour and style derived from the rural kitchen.
I would venture to say that there isn’t a chef in Italy today who hasn’t applied some of his or her grandmother’s wisdom when approaching the creation of a dish.
If French food were couture it would be Chanel whereas Italian food would be Valentino and Armani, with a cheeky dash of Prada or Miu Miu on the side followed by a luscious dessert of Dolce and Gabbana. All utterly diverting, fun, flavoursome – made from the very best ingredients and created with passion.
Interestingly for any real food aficionados, the father of Italian cuisine is Pellegrino Artusi, the first Italian to unify regional Italian dishes in one book. Signor Artusi, who passed away in 1911, is credited as one of the many influences of Auguste Escoffier famously viewed as the creator of haute cuisine.
And so we begin ……
1. L’Antica Pizzaria Da Michele, Naples
Most travellers to the Amalfi Coast, start their trip in Naples and if you want to eat something historic then the only choice in this vibrant city is pizza. Naples has long had a reputation as the home of pizza in Italy. It is important that you put from your mind any pizza experiences you might have before entering this city. The blocky, stodgy, overloaded creations we call pizzas share none of their DNA with the marvels that are created in Naples.
The lightness, the deliciously simple toppings are all captured in a fresh and pliable pizza that is cooked in 900⁰F wood-fired ovens. Pizza, being essentially street food, must retain its malleability allowing you to fold up the hot slice and eat it on the go without losing one morsel of its lush topping.
Naples has mastered this art and if you can drop into L’Antica Pizzaria Da Michele where the Cordurra family has been in business since 1870 you will experience pizza perfection. This Neapolitan landmark requires no fuss or nonsense to woo its patrons. The food is its own advocate!
Via Cesare Sersale 1-3, Naples
Open every day. Cash only, no credit cards accepted.
But let’s get to the Amalfi Coast restaurants now. Travelling from Punta Campanella to Salerno along the most spectacular coastal drive, weaving your way along to your perfect villa accommodation, you will be spoiled for dining choices.
2. Il Buco, Sorrento
Sorrento, the largest town on the Amalfi Peninsula is home to Il Buco, the Michelin starred restaurant headed up by Peppe Aversa. Chef Aversa believes that he is an ambassador for the local meats, fish, vegetables and dairy products that form the basis of all Amalfi Coast Italian restaurant menus.
In the beautiful contemporary surroundings of Il Buco, the tasteful, well-spaced furniture is canopied by a domed ceiling of indigenous tuff stone. These chunky blocks of stone made from volcanic rock liberally found in this region of Italy remind us of the legacy of Vesuvius. This unique setting creates a romantic and intimate experience, not unlike dining in a cave.
Any feeling of austerity is cleverly dispersed by the light contemporary interior that makes the space relaxed and comfortable.
As in all Amalfi Coast restaurants, the knowledgeability and grace of the staff are enhanced even further by the warmth with which guests are greeted. As you feast on Homemade Ravioli filled with Rosemary Scented Lamb and Ichitana Sauce or devour the Linguini with Lemon-scented Scorpion Fish on Roe and a Sundried Tomato Sauce your every need will be anticipated.
The stiff formality, so often experienced in Michelin starred properties, is nowhere evident here.
Piazza S Antonino, Sorrento.
Telephone: +39 081 97 82 354
Lunch 12:30-14:30 / Dinner 19:30-22:30. Il Buco menu.
Closed Wednesday – Booking recommended – Credit Cards accepted
Getting off the beaten track on the Amalfi coast is surprisingly easy. Regardless of the bustle of high season, the topography of the landscape ensures large areas of the countryside are dedicated to the ancient customs of agriculture and animal husbandry. The quality and diversity of produce furnish all surrounding restaurants and cafes with the highest quality meats and vegetables.
In addition, the clement weather with an abundance of sunshine invigorates the local citrus groves and San Marzano tomato plants with a succulent sweetness.
In fact, the local Feminello lemons are so famously sweet that they are sliced and eaten by the locals and have earned the nickname of ‘pane’ meaning bread.
Invariably visitors to the Amalfi Coast follow the main routes from Sorrento to Positano bypassing what, for me, is a peaceful and idyllic part of the peninsula, Massa Lubrense. If you are wise enough to be staying at one of the Amalfi Coast villas dotted along this coastline, you will appreciate the value of having your days spent in quiet solitude, stepping out now and then to absorb the glamorous bustle of the resorts for lunches and dinners.
If you are staying in one of the busy centres, then my next two dining recommendations might appeal as an antidote to the more hectic Amalfi lifestyle.
3. Antico Francischiello, Massa Lubrense
Firstly, Antico Francischielle a small hotel and restaurant founded in 1909 is situated in the Massa Lubrense area of the peninsula. This unpretentious property has unrivalled views of Vesuvius and Capri from its terrace.
A family-run business, welcoming guest of all ages, with genuine warmth and offers delicious traditional Italian foods full of flavour. It really feels as though you are in an Italian home for the sheer authenticity of the fare and relaxed ambience.
The remote location of this property allows guests to either use it as a base to start a wonderful hike along hillside paths that will take you to Sorrento or enjoy a 25-minute stroll to the beach access point of Puolo. At the end of the hike, you will be able to rejuvenate yourself by stopping for a feed at one of the many excellent restaurants in Sorrento.
If you wish to dine at this restaurant then the proprietor will kindly arrange a car and driver to collect you and return you to your Italian villa free of charge. This is an invaluable service as navigating the local roads at night time after a limoncello or two is not always the easiest!
The homemade pasta, the array of seafood and meat dishes are a terrific value. As you watch the sun slip beneath the horizon you will be glad you went ‘off the grid’ for an evening or two.
Telephone: +39 081 533 9780
Open for lunch and dinner.
4. Il Relais Blu, Massa Lubrense
In contrast to this very traditional restaurant, you could visit the Relais Blu Fine Dining restaurant also located in splendid isolation in Massa Lubrense. This contemporary, new property with its Michelin starred restaurant, offers visitors a standard of cuisine exceptional to anywhere in Italy in a show-stopping location. The terrace has a panoramic view over the Tyrrhenian Sea with Capri sitting there like a diamond in a splendid setting.
The award-winning chef who is the creative genius at Relais Blu has devised such dishes as King Crab “Cappellacci” filled with king crab on “broccoli friarielli” and light Crab Consomme. Or perhaps a dish of Flying Squid and Potatoes sees a creamy dish of potato and parsley with Roast Dumplings and a Flying Squid Ragout.
I certainly recommend you wait the requisite 20 minutes to try the Lemon Soufflé with Pastry Ice Cream. Sublime. A well-curated cellar ensures an exceptional choice of wines that will work in harmony with the fresh flavours of the food. Open for lunch and dinner but closed on Monday’s, this is worth the drive to sit and marvel at the views both on your plate and from the terrace!
Boutique Hotel and Fine Dining Restaurant
Lunch – 12:00-14:30 / Dinner – 19:00-22:30
Every day except Monday.
5. Next 2, Positano
Positano, probably the most visited town on the Amalfi coast, is draped like its famed bougainvillaea along a sheer cliff, pooling gracefully around lovely beaches. This magical town with such narrow stepped streets that it keeps traffic at bay is a wonderful destination for memorable lunches or dinners and as a launching, spot to make the voyage by hydrofoil to Capri.
This modern Amalfi restaurant has a very beautiful terrace with climbing jasmine that will imbue a romantic dinner with a subtly scented backdrop. The open kitchen produces such cleverly devised dishes as the antipasti, Tre Assaggi della Tradizione, three miniaturised Italian regulars of a tiny pizza, stuffed zucchini blossoms and aubergine parmigiana on one plate.
A delicious seafood offering in the form of the Fettucelle all’astice (blue lobster fettucelle) and a meaty treat of Guancia di Manzo – Braised beef cheek served with bell peppers and leeks are all rendered to perfection. Call into Next 2’s wonderful bar for one of their speciality cocktails using homemade infusions and essences formulated from local herbs and fruits. A charming start to your dining experience.
Via Pasitea, 242, Positano.
Telephone: +39 089 812 3516
Dinner: 18:30-23:00 / 7 Days.
6. Il Pirata, Priaino
Back on the coastal route halfway between Positano and Amalfi lies the small fishing village of Priaino.
If you are looking for an Amalfi restaurant in a cave, then the dramatically named Il Pirata (the Pirate) will fulfil your wishes. This beach club bar and restaurant allow visitors to rent a sun lounger on its private blue flag beach and enjoy refreshing drinks, Wi-Fi, lunch or dinner on the terrace overlooking the sea.
The quiet village of Priaino has other cafes and restaurants that make this village a lovely starting point for some walks up along the cliff paths into the hills above or enjoy time out on the water. But it is Il Pirata, hewn out of the stone cliff that is a haven of rest away from the bustling coastline.
The menu of classic Amalfi dishes – seafood, pasta and risottos will satisfy all tastes and the relaxed informality of the space makes it a great spot for a leisurely lunch or cocktails and dinner.
Via Terramare, Priaino.
Telephone: +39 089 874377
Open daily 12:30pm – closing.
The town of Amalfi is the next gastronomic destination on this Amalfi odyssey. A diverse town that has architectural reminders of its ancient past in the form of the large 11th century, Arabic-Norman cathedral of Sant’Andrea. With plenty of shops and cafes to dip in and out of it is the restaurants of Da Gemma or L’Abside that promise an intimate and friendly dining experience.
7. Da Gemma, Amalfi
A pretty terrace opening onto the main square in Amalfi, Da Gemma has been in existence since 1872. An ideal location to lunch, watching the world slip by, or enjoy a dinner under soft ambient lights.
The chef harnesses the best of local ingredients with seafood a recurring theme on his menus.
“Coffa” Cod Fillet cooked with Spinach and Tomato followed by the unusual but delightful Aubergine flan with Chocolate and Buffalo Ricotta Ice Cream is memorable.
Local wines are delicious and affordable and accompany these flavours to perfection. A cosy restaurant with tables inside during cooler months or the well-designed terrace that offers a lovely view of the square without intrusion.
via Fra Geraldo Sasso, 11, Amalfi.
Telephone: +39 089 871345
Lunch – 12:00-15:00 / Dinner – 19:00-23:00
8. L’Abside, Amalfi
Another fine Amalfi restaurant is L’Abside on the edge of a small square in the centre of town. This family-run restaurant offers a warm welcome to guests of all ages.
The friendly menu promises such delicacies as Smoked Mozzarella in Lemon Leaves and a variety of salads named for the villages along the coast, for example, Amalfi, Sorrento, Priaino, Ravello. These lighter options, as well as traditional pizzas, make this pretty restaurant with its terrace a lovely choice for casual lunches or family dinners.
Piazza Dei Dogi, 31, Amalfi.
Telephone: +39 089 873586
Open Monday to Saturday: 12:00-22:30
9. Rossellini’s, Ravello
Another of the Amalfi Coast restaurants, Michelin star accredited, can be found in Ravello. A beautiful resort town situated 1000ft above the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea.
This glorious setting is home to the noteworthy Rossellini’s restaurant. This Michelin starred property is located within Palazzo Avino, a private villa built in the 12th century for an Italian noble family. Now an attractive hotel offering its award winning dishes to visitors from March to October.
Rossellini offers cleverly curated recipes that harness all the bounteous seasonal seafood, meats and vegetables from the surrounding areas. The menus, changing often, offer the pasta, risottos and other fares one associate with Italy but elevated to Michelin standards.
The tasting menu served languorously over many hours can be paired with excellent local wines that are handpicked to complement each dish. Rossellini’s is one of the best Restaurants in Ravello.
Via San Giovanni del Toro, Ravello.
Telephone: +39 089 818 181
Booking Recommended / Credit Cards accepted.
This is, of course, the merest morsel of wonderful restaurants, cafes and bars to be found on the Amalfi coast. During each visit, I endeavour to spread my net wider and sample new places but the lure of returning to some old favourites is always difficult to overcome.
If there is one message that really needs to be emphasised it is that regardless of whether you sit at a Michelin starred table or eat a slice of pizza resting on the edge of a piazza fountain, the ingredients are the star of the show. Every chef and cook in Italy is like a master craftsman working with the most precious metals and jewels. Encapsulated in the ethos of all Italian cuisine is a creed that is all about upholding the integrity of the food. It is truly impossible to offend the palate with the glorious delicacies that are spun from the bounty of land and sea along the Amalfi coast.