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 considerable 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 Positano where you will find plenty to see and do.
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 grown for centuries in the colourful citrus groves that surround Sorrento produce 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
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
Another Michelin starred experience, Il Buco, rated as one of the top restaurants in Sorrento, is run by Chef Aversa the self-styled ambassador of local ingredients.
The restaurant is designed along contemporary lines with beautiful furnishings offset so wonderfully by a canopied 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.
As in all Amalfi Coast restaurants, the knowledge and grace of the staff is enhanced even further by the warmth with which guests are greeted – your every need will be anticipated.
The stiff formality, so often experienced in Michelin starred properties, is nowhere evident here.
Piazza S Antonino, Sorrento
Lunch 1230-1430 / Dinner 1930-2230 / Closed Wednesday – Booking recommended
This restaurant has been brought up to date by the youngest generation of a family of restauranteurs. It is a modern space, overlooking the marina and pier.
At lunchtime, it is a casual place to enjoy delicious seafood, pasta plates, risotto. At night, the ambiance changes to a more romantic vibe as the twinkly string lights of the pier offer a backdrop to a relaxed dinner.
As with all Italian menus, you can create your dinner from a selection of starters, first courses, second courses and desserts.
With lovely local wines, Soul and Fish is a pretty place to have a delicious meal without too much formality.
Lunch: 12.00-14.45 Dinner: 19.00 – 22.30
Perhaps one of the best restaurants in Sorrento, Italy if you want to combine a lazy afternoon on a sun lounger, a few refreshing dips into the sea with some lovely casual dining. Open from 10.00am, go early and rent yourself a lounger.
The restaurant offers standard Italian classics, pizza, seafood, club sandwiches, salads. Just throw on your sundress over your bikini and enjoy your lunch followed by a leisurely siesta!
A perfect day.
Open for dinner, there is a less casual but more romantic atmosphere as you enjoy a cocktail watching dusk change the sea from turquoise to sapphire blue.
Open: 10.00 to 24.00
This is the largest restaurant in Sorrento with seating for up to 600 guests in an unbelievable lush, multi-level space filled with mature citrus trees, flowering shrubs and wild foliage.
You are essentially dining in a conservatory. Founded in 1868, this restaurant created the dish that we now call cannelloni and you can enjoy many versions of this Italian classic on its menu today.
Regardless of the numbers of guests who pass through the doors each day, the welcome is warm and genuine.
The design and layout creates many cosy corners in which to dine. It is a bustling place to visit but certainly unique by any standards.
The food is traditional Sorrentine fare accompanied by a wide selection of wines. So if you and your family want to visit one of the traditional Italian restaurants Sorrento has to offer, this is a good place to start.
Lunch: 12.00-15.30 Dinner: 19.00-23.30
Corso Italia, 71
Any opera buffs out there will know who Enrico Caruso was but for those of you more into hip hop than high notes, Caruso was to the early 20th century what Pavarotti was to the late 20th century.
Born in Naples in the late 19th Century, the tenor Caruso was celebrated all over the world and performed in every great opera house. This remarkable restaurant has set itself up as a museum to honour his memory.
Regardless of your interest in Caruso or opera, the traditional Neapolitan cuisine so wonderfully created and presented in this friendly restaurant with small intimate rooms is a delight. If you are a music enthusiast, you will love the Caruso recordings that very subtly accompany your dinner.
Delicious traditional fare, a top class cellar all served with a slice of history.
You will enjoy it!
Lunch: 12.00 – 15.00 Dinner: 18.00 – 00.00
Via Sant’Antonino, 12
Restaurants in Sorrento, Italy that have a more modern flair have popped up here and there.
The dark, cavernous, formal dining experiences aren’t for everyone and if you are looking for a fresh take on Italian cuisine then look no further than Accento. This modern setting, designed along clean lines, has harnessed the very best of local ingredients, extracting their greatness and presenting culinary masterpieces that will entrance guests.
All of this gourmet wonderment is accompanied by the friendliest staff who will take time to chat and make you feel at home. Their recommendations from the kitchen are always right on the mark.
A wonderful place to dine if you want to embrace modern Italy and step away from the ‘grand tour’ vibe of more traditional establishments.
Lunch: 12.00 – 14.30 Dinner: 18.30 – 23.00
Corso Italia, 38
It is sometimes lovely to slip away from the hustle and bustle of the main centres of any Town. Sorrento, with its labyrinthine laneways can offer lovely bars and restaurants that appear less touristy and consequently more relaxing. Fuoro 51 is a wine bar with a divine selection of unusual vintages sourced locally and from beyond.
If you want to try some interesting wines by the glass this is a good place to start. Food wise, you will love the charcuterie boards with a diverse range of cured meats and cheeses.
Served with rich olive oil and crusty breads made with good strong flour, this is the sort of dining that can really appeal. You simply get stuck into the fabulous intense, gamey flavours of some of the salamis, the bresaola, the hams, bruschetti, olives.
The cheeses that I feverishly wrote down the names of in the hope I could source them again back home, were divine.
All of this topped off with a good coffee, the ingredients for a simple but great evening.
Certainly worth a visit.
Tue-Sun: 17.00 – 00.00
Via Fuoro, 51, Sorrento
Occupying a corner of the Piazz’Antonino, this airy restaurant decorated entirely in white, is a very modern European-styled establishment at which to enjoy the delicious plates created by the talented chef. Again, like all good restaurants in Sorrento, Italy the best of local seafood, meats and vegetables are conjured into modern interpretations of wonderful Italian standards and creative tasting menus.