Any visit to Sorrento is a feast for the eyes. The clifftop drive, snaking around sharp bends hundreds of feet above the Bay of Naples provides breath-taking views that rival any destination on the globe. Never have land and sea been so well married to create dramatic colours, textures …. the essence of panoramic allure. This hyperbole can as easily be applied to the visually arresting taste creations that are offered to delighted visitors at some of the best restaurants in Sorrento.
Sorrento, a town whose name derives from the word ‘Sirens’ referencing the tantalising femme Fatales who lured sailors to their doom on the rock of the Tyrrhenian Sea, has a population of about 17,000 citizens.
This number swells considerably during high season as the Italian villa rentals fill with tourists but somehow the laid back and gentle way of life of this pretty resort town makes navigating the small streets and thoroughfares a stimulating yet pleasant experience.
As you know, being a tourist is a hungry occupation and resort towns such as those along the famed Amalfi Coast understand the importance of offering diverse dining experiences to the many guests who are lured by the Siren call of Sorrento.
Whether you are an individual traveller, a young couple on honeymoon, families with fussy eaters, more mature travellers, gourmands or all of the above who simply wish to load their Instagram feed with mouth-watering images – Sorrento will not disappoint.
Sorrento – Italy – Food!
Before I get into the delightful weeds in terms of recommended restaurants, let’s get some background on what to expect generally from food in this wonderful part of the world.
Sorrento is one of the larger towns in the Campania region of Italy. If you are a seasoned Italian campaigner, as I am, you will understand how each region has a distinct style of cuisine and uses ingredients specific to that region in designing its menus.
Campania is blessed by nature to have an incredibly broad range of some of the most delicious ingredients that form the best of Italian cooking. Sorrento also about 40 mins drive from all of the interesting things to do in Positano.
First off, let’s discuss the lemon. Generally, for us Northern Europeans, the lemon is something that is sliced and floats rather neglectfully in a gin and tonic. It is a sad, bitter little fruit that makes little impression on our taste buds. Well, cast that preconceived idea off the cliffs of the Nastro Azzuro as you drive into Sorrento as the queen of lemons await you.
I defy anyone to find a menu on the Sorrentine peninsula that doesn’t harness the lemon in the most inventive ways in the creation of both savoury and sweet dishes that will charm the senses.
The lemons are grown for centuries in the colourful citrus groves that surround Sorrento produce the fruit of such texture and sweetness that the locals eat these Femminello lemons sliced as we might consume an apple.
Another remarkable ingredient that has been elevated to such greatness as to be called white pearl is the Campania Buffalo Mozzarella. A meltingly soft, fresh, creamy construct that will elevate your humble Insalata Tricolore to epic levels.
The last key ingredient I will give a special shout-out to is the San Marzano tomato that has now become the backbone of all aspirational pizza restaurants in Europe. Gone are the days when a mention of ‘tomato’ as an ingredient in a pizza would suffice.
Now it has to be a San Marzano tomato. This has become the hallmark of greatness in the pizza world. These red luscious beauties are picked warm from the Amalfi tomato vines and arrive with a perfumed freshness to your table to enhance any feast.
Obviously, food in Sorrento, Italy encompasses the widest arrange of seafood, meats from the farms that picturesquely dot the hills of the Amalfi Coast, olives, fragrant herbs, vegetables and fruits of dazzling varieties.
The entire coast is a living, breathing supermarket that equips the inventive and traditional chefs that have established some of the best restaurants in Sorrento. While in Italy, don’t forget to experience the luxurious Villas of Venice, overlooking the Grand Canals, an authentic Italian destination.
Here are some recommendations of places you might like to visit for a feast to your senses.
The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is an imposing historic hotel that has been run by the Fiorentino family since 1834. With its main entrance from Sorrento’s central square, Piazza Tasso, the Hotel also has a private elevator that connects the Hotel with the Marina at the foot of the cliffs.
If your arrival is by boat, you might be very glad of this service as there is a rather steep road to navigate to reach the main entrance.
The Michelin starred restaurant, Terrazza Bosquet, under the expert direction of Chef Antonino Montefusco offers sublime food in a gorgeous setting.
The history of this Hotel, that has welcomed discerning travellers for decades, creates a backdrop for Michelin winning dishes that embrace modern skills with traditional nuances. The views from the terrace are not disappointing.
Prepare to be dazzled by the experience.
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Piazza Tasso, Sorrento
Open for Dinner: 19.30 -23.00 – Reservations Essential
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.