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Amalfi Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


Matthew Grant
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I was thinking of spending a few days on the Amalfi coast in November. My concern is whether restaurants and bars close seasonally in this area. Is sorrento a good place to base ourselves and do we need a car or is it easy enought to get around by public transport?

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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I was thinking of spending a few days on the Amalfi coast in November. My concern is whether restaurants and bars close seasonally in this area. Is sorrento a good place to base ourselves and do we need a car or is it easy enought to get around by public transport?

Weather wise, November is a good time to visit Sorrento/Amalfi. I was there in November and it was partly cloudy and 70 degrees. There may be some seasonal seaside restaurants and bars closed, but most everything else will be open- and far less crowded! Sorrento is the best base in the area, in my opinion- no car needed as buses, trains and boats will take you anywhere you want to go.

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I was thinking of spending a few days on the Amalfi coast in November. My concern is whether restaurants and bars close seasonally in this area. Is sorrento a good place to base ourselves and do we need a car or is it easy enought to get around by public transport?

Matthew,

If you can wait a few weeks I'll give you a more thorough answer, especially regarding restaurants and such. I'm just packing and leaving for Italy for the next three weeks so not too much time to write. Sorrento is definitely the best base if you want to use public transport but certainly not the prettiest place to stay on the Amalfi coast. On the other hand for other places, Amalfi, Ravello (my favourite), or even little Minori you really need a car to be free from the somewhat erratic bus timetables.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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I was thinking of spending a few days on the Amalfi coast in November. My concern is whether restaurants and bars close seasonally in this area. Is sorrento a good place to base ourselves and do we need a car or is it easy enought to get around by public transport?

we spent a week in positano on the amafli coast last october, and it was just getting to the tail end of the season. that has its good points and its bad points, but mostly good. the hordes of tourists are gone for the most part, enabling you to walk into any restaurant without any reservations. all restaurants were still open, at least the ones we came across. we were told that stuff starts shutting down at the end of october, but i would think that this would be the more touristy places.

the weather was a little iffy, with a good amount of rain and rough seas, but we had a few gloriously sunny days in between. i think it's just a crapshoot.

and we didn't rent a car. granted, we didn't travel very much, but public transportation and private car services and taxis are plentiful. hope you have a great trip, and happy eating.

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I spent parts of the last two Novembers on the Amalfi coast. The weather remains comfortable, but most likely not beach or pool weather. The crowds are markedly diminished, but so are your options regarding hotels and restaurants as well as shopping. two years ago we stayed in Sorrento at the Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. This was nice, but extremely empty. We had a car and used it to get around the area. Last year I stayed in Positano at The Hotel San Pietro just prior to its closing for the season. This was particularly beautiful. We did not have a car here, but it wasn't really a problem getting around the Amalfi coast by taxi when we needed to. To be technical sorrento really isn't on the Amalfi coast since it is on the Bay of Naples side of the Sorrentine peninsula. To actually stay on The amalfi Coast, you should stay in Positano, Amalfi or Ravello. while restaurant options may be fewer, there are still plenty including Don Alfonso in Santa Agata di Due Golfi. That is also a hotel option.

I enjoyed my visits very much both times.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 2 weeks later...
I was thinking of spending a few days on the Amalfi coast in November. My concern is whether restaurants and bars close seasonally in this area. Is sorrento a good place to base ourselves and do we need a car or is it easy enought to get around by public transport?

November will be quiet on the Amalfi Coast however most of the established bars and restaurants will be open and getting about by public transport (buses) is very easy with the main routes being Sorrento to Amalfi(via Positano) and Amalfi to Ravello and Amalfi to Salerno (via Minori and Maiori) Sorrento and Amalfi are the two main hubs for transportation with Sorrento benefitting from a direct train link with Naples. I would recommend Salvatore Lucibello of DriveAmalfi (driveamalfi@hotmail.com) should you require a private driver for your transfers from Naples Station or Airport. I also recommend a small restaurant called Ristorante San Giovanni (WWW.ristorantesangiovanni.com) for an authentic taste of the Amalfi Coast without the authentic tourist prices of some of the main towns.

Edited by walkamalfi (log)
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Welcome to eGullet, Walkamalfi! I presume you live in that area. Whether or not you do, I look forward to reading more insights from you on that area as well as other topics.

You are absolutely right about the train from Naples to Sorrento. It is pretty easy to use and a good way of getting around to places like Pompeii, Herculaneum and other points in between.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 8 months later...

We just came home from a three week stay in Capri (rented a house) and we managed to squeeze in quite a few restaurants along the way, both on Capri and along the Amalfi coast.

Don Alfonso was a treat, of course. We had the degustazione menu + wine package. It started off really weak (yes, our expectations were very high) but when they brought us a wonderful fish soup with ricotta cheese we were in heaven and we stayed there. The wines they had chosen were superb, possibly the best combinations I've had for years. We got 8 glasses of wine (our visit to Le Peracciole afterwards was a bit in a haze...) and all but 1 were white wines. However, even though we had a delightful experience at Don Alfonso, it had a certain feeling of tiredness to it. Difficult to explain, but there was a sense of we-have-nothing-left-to-prove.

Quite the opposite at L'Olivo, the latest gourmet hotspot in Capri (or Anacapri, to be more specific). They just got their first Michelin star and they are really going for more stars, there's no doubt about that. If you could call a restaurant "hungry", they're it. We didn't really expect it, it was quite a surprise. They gave us our best meal of the whole trip and the menu was very impressive - lots of interesting combinations and new ideas (the desserts!). Definitely recommended!

If you like Insalata Caprese (I'm a big fan, but only when I'm on the island), go for restaurant Aurora. Very touristy place in the center of Capri, but they gave me the best one I've ever had. Completely free of any frills, just the best mozzarella and basil mankind can bring forward. I was amazed.

We tried many other restaurants, too many to mention here, but let me finish off with a warning. Terrazza Brunella, stay away from it. Looks like a top notch place on the surface, but boy were we disappointed. Yes, there were Hollywood actors there when we visited and yes, it's a tourist trap for Americans with a lot of money. The wines were a complete rip-off, we bought the same wines in the supermarket for 1/10 of the price. And all around us there were groups of very loud New Yorkers in their 50s having french fries with everything and decaf cappuccino at 10 o'clock in the evening. Quite an experience in itself, actually.

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  • 1 month later...

It seems we were in the same area at around the same time, although my budget was a little thinner than yours. I had dreamed of Don Alfonso but knew it was out of reach for us and sadly was right. But, and I do mean but, in the small fishing town of Marina di Praia (just down the coast from Praiano) there were some excellent restaurants. On the waterfront in the main harbour was Armandino's. Rickety little tables on the warf but man the food was spectacular, as was the service. There's something to be said for seafood served 10 feet from point of origin to really inspire you.

There were quite a few restaurants in the harbour area and Paradiso was one of the others worth a visit (lots of locals for Sunday lunches). I really believe this is a hidden culinary gem that won't remain hidden for long.

Vanderb (ever hungry)

Vanderb (ever hungry)

Amateur with dreams of grandeur

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Excellent first Post, ChristianB! Welcome to eGullet!

Your description of the Caprese Salad makes me want to have one right now and I just had dinner! Alas, all I had was hospital cafeteria food and not a Caprese Salad from that beautiful isle.

Don Alfonso was a wonderful place. I can understand your point about "tiredness", though.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I'll agree that Don Alfonso does feel just a little bit tired. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED this place -- my hypothesis is that the very tired "Italian Grandmother" decor of the dining room unfairly "rubs off" onto the food.

Compare the boring bordering on ugly decor...

gallery_26858_1557_125121.jpg

with the gorgeous food...

gallery_26858_1557_294358.jpg

gallery_26858_1557_1090090.jpg

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I'll agree that Don Alfonso does feel just a little bit tired.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVED this place -- my hypothesis is that the very tired "Italian Grandmother" decor of the dining room unfairly "rubs off" onto the food.

Compare the boring bordering on ugly decor... with the gorgeous food...

Precisely!

Edited by docsconz (log)

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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  • 6 months later...
I'm travelling to the Amalfi coast in late March and wondered if anyone could provide restaurant recommendations.

Although quite tired in the decor department, Don Alfonso 1890 was absolutely outstanding from a food/service perspective when I visited in Summer '04. The hotel restaurant at Il San Pietro was also very good. Quattro Passi has a very nice outdoor setting but not the same caliber of food (although I'd go again if I were nearby).

The much-lauded Torre del Saracino was a huge disappointment both in terms of food quality and the shocking prices. Similarly, the restaurant at Le Sirenuse was (like the hotel itself) outrageously priced.

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Don Alfonso is always a good bet.

I disagree with vinobiondo about Torre del Saracino, as we have had chance to discuss in the past, both about the quality and the prices, but I think that's just the way it is with this restaurant: some people love it some don't see what the fuss is about. Furthermore Esposito might have closed his restaurant to head the kitchen of the nearby Crown Plaza Hotel, though I have no certain news about that.

Two destinations that might be worth seeking out are "Taverna del Capitano", in Nerano, and "Il Buco" in Sorrento: both have their fans and get pretty good press.

Or are you're looking for something slightly more in the direction of traditional local cooking?

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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Dona Rosa in Montepertusso (above Positano) is quite good. Also, the restaurant in the Hotel Palumbo in Ravello is good. The latter also has their own winery (Cantine Episcopio), which produces wonderfully mineral-driven wines that have plenty of acidity (less so the 2003 vintage) to make them good food partners.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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I agree with Vinobiondo that Don Alfonso is an exceptional restaurant. My lunch there in June '05 was spectacular. Highlights were a duck breast appetizer with star anise and apple puree, a broth with little riccota cheese morsels and fresh fish, great short thick maccheroni pasta (paccheri) with a type of blue fish and green pepper sauce, and a goat dish with herbs, little potato balls, thin slices of zucchini, and little onions. And there were several other delicious small courses and great desserts. Glasses of wines were paired with the meal (including sparkling Falanghino from Benevento, Bigaró from Piemonte, a great Greco di Tufo from Benito Ferrara, a rich fruity Terre del Principe from Caserta, and a sweet dessert wine from Benevento -- sorry if I misspelled some of these). Service was extremely friendly. After the meal, I was given a tour of their impressive wine cellar, which is said to date from Roman times. The total cost for the gastronomic menu and all wines (not including tip) was 152 Euros, which is a blowout expense for me, but was worth every Euro. This was my second time at Don Alfonso and it is one of my very favorite restaurants in Italy (To put this in perspective, I'd put it right below my two favorites: Le Calandre and Dal Pescatore, but in my opinion well above Al Soriso, Da Caino, La Tenda Rossa, and far superior to my meals at Gambero Rosso and San Domenico.)

Far less costly (but still not inexpensive) is another great place, La Caravella, in Amalfi. I first ate there over 30 years ago. It had a Michelin star then, and it has retained it to this day. Ownership has passed from father to son, and the place has a much fancier aura now, but it is still a very comfortable friendly place to dine. I ate supper there last June, a few days before my meal at Don Alfonso. A 70 euro tasting menu included a pate of crustaceans with cream of pumpkin, pesce spada with fennel in olive oil, pasta with shrimp, red pumpkin sauce, and saffron, a version of zuppa di pesce, and a nice piece of very fresh boiled spigola. Again, I had glasses of wine (sparkling Asperina di Aversa, a Falanghino from Sannio, a nice red wine from Salina from Hauser, and a Greco di Tufa from Avellino, and a dessert wine from Sicily). Wines were 28 Euros. This was an outstanding meal, and well worth the cost.

Both of these restaurants make an effort to feature local fresh seafood. Don Alfonso also has good meat courses. And both serve a nice selection of wines from Campagna and seem to enjoy having their customers discover new wines.

In contrast, I did not particularly enjoy my meal at Quattro Passi. A very nice appetizer of a spring roll filled with triglia (red mullet), tomatoes, basil and capers, was followed by a good dish of cannelloni made of eggplant filled with ricotta and mozzarella, then a very very undercooked plate of paccheri with a mix of seafood [i do like pasta al dente, but this was an error of the kitchen I am sure], then a very rich thin pasta with thin sliced vegetables, which I didn't care for -- too buttery, and finally a plate of 3 types of fish, which was good. Rolls and dessert were unexceptional. Wine was not served by the glass -- I had a half bottle of Greco di Tufo from Feudi S. G... at a reasonable 15 Euros). Annoying was an overcharge for an unasked for second they large bottle of mineral water opened while I was eating dessert. The cost of the food was about 90 Euros. (They do have a nice garden, but dining there on a hot night was not that comfortable.)

Edited by vigna (log)
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I'm travelling to the Amalfi coast in late March and wondered if anyone could provide restaurant recommendations.

Thanks for all the info. We'll be staying in Amalfi and I've read that we won't want to drive on the coast road in the dark after having had wine. La Caravella sounds like a good choice so I"m glad to get a favorable report.

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Thanks for all the info. We'll be staying in Amalfi and I've read that we won't want to drive on the coast road in the dark after having had wine. La Caravella sounds like a good choice so I"m glad to get a favorable report.

You won't want to drive the coast road day or night after having had some wine. If you do want to dine in Ravello, however, there are plenty of buses that make the 6km trek up the bluff and back well into the night.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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In case you stray down the coast a bit, here's a post about a wonderful restaurant in Eboli we visited a year ago:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...ndpost&p=879868

Paestum is also well worth a visit and there's a restaurant right on the grounds that's delightful. Has amazing crepes filled with fresh mozzarella!

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  • 2 weeks later...
I agree with Vinobiondo that Don Alfonso is an exceptional restaurant.  My lunch there in June '05 was spectacular.  Highlights were a duck breast appetizer with star anise and apple puree, a broth with little riccota cheese morsels and fresh fish, great short thick maccheroni pasta (paccheri) with a type of blue fish and green pepper sauce, and a goat dish with  herbs, little potato balls, thin slices of zucchini, and little onions. And there were several other delicious small courses and great desserts.  Glasses of wines were paired with the meal (including sparkling Falanghino from Benevento, Bigaró from Piemonte, a great Greco di Tufo from Benito Ferrara, a rich fruity Terre del Principe from Caserta, and a sweet dessert wine from Benevento -- sorry if I misspelled some of these).  Service was extremely friendly.  After the meal, I was given a tour of their impressive wine cellar, which is said to date from Roman times.  The total cost for the gastronomic menu and all wines (not including tip) was 152 Euros, which is a blowout expense for me, but was worth every Euro.  This was my second time at Don Alfonso and it is one of my very favorite restaurants in Italy (To put this in perspective, I'd put it right below my two favorites:  Le Calandre and Dal Pescatore,  but in my opinion well above Al Soriso, Da Caino, La Tenda Rossa, and far superior to my meals at Gambero Rosso and San Domenico.)

Far less costly (but still not inexpensive) is another great place, La Caravella, in Amalfi.  I first ate there over 30 years ago. It had a Michelin star then, and it has retained it to this day.  Ownership has passed from father to son, and the place has a much fancier aura now, but it is still a very comfortable friendly place to dine.  I ate supper there last June, a few days before my meal at Don Alfonso.  A 70 euro tasting menu included a pate of crustaceans with cream of pumpkin,  pesce spada with fennel in olive oil, pasta with shrimp, red pumpkin sauce, and saffron,  a version of zuppa di pesce, and a nice piece of very fresh boiled spigola.  Again, I had glasses of wine (sparkling Asperina di Aversa, a Falanghino from Sannio, a nice red wine from Salina from Hauser, and a Greco di Tufa from Avellino, and a dessert wine from Sicily).  Wines were 28 Euros.  This was an outstanding meal, and well worth the cost.

Both of these restaurants make an effort to feature local fresh seafood.  Don Alfonso also has good meat courses.  And both serve a nice selection of wines from Campagna and seem to enjoy having their customers discover new wines.

In contrast, I did not particularly enjoy my meal at Quattro Passi. A very nice appetizer of a spring roll filled with triglia (red mullet), tomatoes, basil and capers, was followed by a good dish of cannelloni made of eggplant filled with ricotta and mozzarella, then a very very undercooked plate of paccheri with a mix of seafood [i do like pasta al dente, but this was an error of the kitchen I am sure], then a very rich thin pasta with thin sliced vegetables, which I didn't care for -- too buttery, and finally a plate of 3 types of fish, which was good. Rolls and dessert were unexceptional.  Wine was not served by the glass -- I had a half bottle of Greco di Tufo from Feudi S. G... at a reasonable 15 Euros). Annoying was an overcharge for an unasked for second they large bottle of mineral water opened while I was eating dessert.  The cost of the food was about 90 Euros. (They do have a nice garden, but dining there on a hot night was not that comfortable.)

I too ate at Don Alfonso was, agreed excellent.....

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  • 2 weeks later...
Anyone have any recs for the town of Praiano?

I just returned from a trip there and will report on it soon. In Praiano there seem to be three contenders for restauranta, La Strada, La Brace (both near each other on the main road in town, which is the main road of the penninsula) and the other one down nearer the beach which was closed. I think I can find its name somewhere.

Praiano is a very small town with few offerings. We ate at La Brace and enjoyed it.

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I look forward to your report. If you have any recommendations for the town opf Praiano, be it markets or coffee shops or whatever, I'd be interested to hear about it if you have a second. (Please PM me if you can.)

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