The Sorrentine Peninsula, with the Gulf of Naples to the North and the Gulf of Salerno to the South, is a spectacular destination for visitors who want unspoilt beauty, tranquillity, more than a touch of sophistication and of course divine food.
The Peninsula divided into the two Provinces of Napoli and Salerno are made up of 21 communes (towns or villages to you and me) and one of these glorious communes is Ravello: a hilltop paradise in the Province of Salerno.
Pack your appetites for we are off on a gentle gourmet gambol through this lovely municipality, visiting its unique and exquisite restaurants to sample Ravello food in all its incarnations.
I like to group my Ravello, Italy restaurant reviews under headings that describe the experience rather than the cuisine.
For instance, if I simply said ‘Seafood’ or ‘Modern European’ or ‘Pizza’ it would indeed give you a clear understanding of what you are going to eat but for me, the actual ‘experience’ is critical in my decision-making process when I choose to dine out.
Sometimes, I want ‘Romance’ other times I want ‘Casual’. At times, the view is everything I require with the menu being secondary to the experience. Well, it’s easy for me to say this as there is rarely a bad dining experience in Italy.
As a nation, they have mastered the art of extracting culinary wonders from lovely ingredients without losing sight of flavour and style. So, I ask you to follow me through the many dining experiences that await you in ravishing Ravello.
Il Flauto di Pan
The Gardens of Romance
The restaurant, in the historic Villa Cimbrone Hotel, a building dating from the 12th century offers lovely views from its open terrace. Hotels are fine but I prefer to stay in an Italian villa
The Hotel is famous for its gardens, offering carefully curated shrubs and plants that flow together into a symphony of natural perfection. Reached in 10 minutes by foot along a picturesque pathway from the square, you should definitely arrive early so you can enjoy a walk around the gardens and relax with a cocktail before you sit for a most memorable dinner. The cuisine, modern interpretations of Mediterranean classics are wonderfully designed by head chef Crescenzo Scotti. Coupled with wines from their extensive cellar, the stage is set for you and your partner to be cossetted by the attentive but discreet staff.
I saw a guest at another table being given a shawl by the staff as the evening grew cooler.
There was simply no gesture too small or great for the well-trained staff to undertake to ensure we had a romantic experience. It really is where to eat in Ravello if you want a quiet and intimate setting.
[Note to any amorous men out there: it is definitely the perfect location where a marriage proposal would be well received by your lucky partner]!
Hotel Cimbrone, Via S Chiara, 26, Ravello.
19.30-22.30 each day – Reservations recommended.
Check out our guide on Tuscany Tours
Dine to the Sound of the Sea
Located in the Municipality of Ravello on a stretch of the coast road that connects the fishing village of Minori to the old Republic of Amalfi is this beautiful restaurant.
Specialising in seafood …. Tuna Tartare or Salmon marinated in Orange can be followed by Salt Cod with fried courgette flowers.
There are lovely meat courses … a smoked beef dish being pretty memorable. The design of the restaurant ensures that the natural beauty of the cliffs and sea are all part of your dining experience. There is a perfectly appointed open terrace perched above the sea.
You will enjoy a lunch or dinner to the sounds of the waves breaking against the rocks below.
For a very special occasion, L’Antica Cartiera offers a private table for two that is set up on a promontory adjacent to the main restaurant. By candlelight, you will enjoy the blissfully romantic experience of being cosseted by the lovely staff as you drink in the views across the bay.
With a gentle and attentive service, you can revel in all that is great about the Amalfi coast as the sun slips beneath the horizon.
I noticed that the restaurant offers a private mooring too so if you are lucky enough to be sailing around this coastline it makes a perfectly charming destination for lunch.
You will sidestep the hubbub of activity in Positano(plenty of things to do in Positano) and enjoy a Ravello restaurant that sits apart from the crowd! As a cute little point of interest, the road on which this restaurant sits is called Via Marmorata – the world ‘Marmorata’ referring to the sound the waterfalls make in the locality as the water ‘murmurs’ down the cliffside.
Only in Italy!
Via Marmorata, 4, Ravello
Open for Lunch and Dinner – Reservations recommended.
Trattoria da Cumpa’ Cosima
Fun for Families
If you want an authentic Italian experience, then this is the place for you.
Mama is the typical bustling Italian signora, welcoming everyone, adoring your children and generally making you feel as though you are sitting in her own home. With a menu that celebrates all seasonally available food, the simple Italian fare is mouth-wateringly good and at reasonable prices.
Legend has it that Jacqueline Kennedy once had lunch here to avoid the tumult of the paparazzi who were stalking her in Capri. I bet if she did, she enjoyed it as much as we did.
A lovely atmosphere.
The vegetarians among our group were delighted with the dishes on offer. Nice local wines accompanied our relaxed evening. A real gem and overall just great to see a family run restaurant still thriving well into the 21st century.
Via Roma, 44, Ravello
+39 089 857156
Babel Wine Bar
Where Art meets Food and Food meets Art
What really charmed me about this modern restaurant was the simplicity of the food – ‘simple food done well’ is their philosophy and they certainly achieved that. In addition to stand-alone dishes, they put together sharing platters of cured meats and cheeses coupled with well-chosen Campania wines. A lot of locals eat here as the casual, youthful vibe of Babel Wine Bar is ideally suited to all visitors who want to literally break bread together.
The surprising twist to this dining experience is the fabulous ceramics and creations by local artists that decorate the restaurant and are available for you to purchase. The pretty, hand-painted fired tiles, stylish vases and dishes that would really enhance your living space back home, burst into colourful life in this eclectic gallery/restaurant. The quality of the pieces on display is exceptional and original.
Certainly, nothing mass-produced here. Who knows, as you finish the delicious main course you might indulge in a bit of retail therapy for dessert! As a Ravello restaurant, along the Amalfi coast, it is a unique offering. Frankly, I don’t think there are enough restaurant / ceramic art galleries out there!
Deli and Art, Via Santissima Trinita, 13, Ravello
11.30-15.30 Lunch / 19.00-23.00 Dinner
Laid-back and Lovely
Tucked away in a quiet side street in Ravello, Pizzeria Vittoria with its arched ceilings offers delicious seafood dishes like baby squid in a tomato and garlic sauce (Polipetti alla Luciana) along with all the great staples of the Italian table. All of the seafood offerings are the freshest you will find with the daily supply of seafood plucked from the sea that murmurs a thousand feet below Ravello.
It is, though, the pizzeria that I am recommending to you like a trip to Italy without a pizza would be like going to the seaside and not going for a swim! The freshly kneaded slim pizza bases are topped with the usual delicacies of San Marzano tomatoes and local buffalo mozzarella.
A Margherita is always a terrific choice but you can also try a smoked mozzarella pizza topped with roast potatoes. A manly carb-fest that is really most unusual but satisfying. The pizzas are flash fired in a brick oven and you won’t taste anything as fresh and yummy in the whole Ravello area. Lovely for a quick lunch or a more leisurely dinner with teenagers.
A complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival was a very nice touch and the genuine welcoming atmosphere was really appreciated by everyone.
For the wine connoisseurs among you, the restaurant’s wine list is really quite spectacular. With reds and whites from the key wine-producing regions of Italy, as well as some unusual Sicilian vintages, anyone who wants to try something slightly unusual won’t be disappointed.
Let the informed staff guide you to something thrillingly new!
Via dei Rufolo, 3, Ravello
Pulling out all the Stops – Glamour!
Located in the stunning hotel Palazzo Avino, Rossellini’s restaurant is probably one of the best restaurants in Ravello or in fact the entire Amalfi coast if you are looking for fine dining. This Michelin one-star restaurant, with a terrace overlooking the sea, opens during the season from March to November for dinner only.
The talented head chef Michele Deleo has rightly been given numerous awards for the inventive flair with which he creates his masterpieces. The entire offering at Rossellini’s embraces standards that one would expect from any successful metropolitan Michelin starred restaurant.
There is a chef’s table that seats four lucky guests who can enjoy a specially created menu presented on plates made by a local potter in a pattern exclusive to the restaurant. Tucked away from all the other restaurant diners, you will imbibe flavours and foods that are beyond all fertile imaginations. Couple this with a tour of the kitchen in full flight – it is a vision of choreographed perfection!
There is also a Sommelier’s table in the wine cave of the hotel, whereby candlelight two guests can sample some lovely wines in the serenity of what the Palazzo Avino calls its ‘Wine Library’. How fabulous is that?
It is really the entire adventure of visiting such a beautiful Hotel, once an Italian nobleman’s private palace that sets the tone for your dining experience. The restoration work is undertaken by the property owners, sympathetically protected all of the stately greatness of the building while bringing it very much into the 21st Century. ‘Beautiful’ is a word that springs immediately to your mind when you see the exterior of the property. A pinkish hue that seems to intensify as dusk falls, sweeps across the façade with lovely little balconies and stone railings creating a very elegant finish.
From the moment you float over the threshold, you will feel like a hero or heroine in some F Scott Fitzgerald novel. The old school glamour of the Mediterranean playgrounds of the rich and famous are recreated by the views from the terrace and the attentive staff.
We should be eternally grateful that individuals see the value in bringing these incredible properties back to life. It is no easy task to breathe life into these sleeping beauties but the rewards, when you sit in luxurious splendour and dine on outstanding food, will see you raise a glass to the visionaries who have spun this dream into a reality for you.
Palazzo Avino, Via San Giovanni del Toro, 28, Ravello
If you’re interested in visiting Italy why not check out our guide on things to do in Positano.
Ravello is such a pretty town to visit. I especially like that it is 1,000 ft above the busy coast road so that sense of being tucked away from the height of the season is a nice feeling.
The town has attracted some world-famous and lauded visitors over the centuries like Joan Miro, Richard Wagner, Graham Greene, Edvard Grieg, Virginia Woolf, Gore Vidal and many more. It is not surprising that anyone wishing to commune with their muses would find a solitary and peaceful setting in Ravello in which to contemplate their existence.
Perhaps it is a little busier now that it might have been 100 years ago but the quality of life, the glorious gardens, the views out across the sea, the incomparable food all roll together to inspire you to perhaps not write a symphony or a great novel but at the very least to tap into your inner poet as you search for the perfect words to describe this corner of paradise.
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name!
Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really.
Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be.
Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.