The cuisine of the Amalfi Coast is full of fresh flavors, lots of tomatoes, lemons and seafood. From simple pasta dishes to elaborately plated artistry and rickety tables at low key beach clubs, to elegant dining rooms with chefs who have earned a Michelin star or two, there is something for every appetite. These are our picks for 6 must-visit restaurants on the Amalfi Coast.
La Sponda, Le Sirenuse, Positano | Courtesy Le Sirenuse Positano
La Sponda is arguably one of the prettiest restaurants on the Amalfi Coast, maybe even in all of Italy. With a view of the tiled dome of Positano’s main church and out over the sea, the dining room has hand painted ceramic floors, leafy vines that wind up the whitewashed walls and in the evening, the glimmer of 400 candles. The Michelin starred kitchen is overseen by the young chef, Gennaro Russo who has also cooked with the famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura. He stays true to the locale, serving dishes that are rooted in tradition but with a light contemporary touch like the wild asparagus purée with red shrimp and buffalo milk ricotta, or the linguini all vongole which is elevated with the addition of a lemon zucchini pesto.There is an impressive wine cellar filled with important vintages and the skilled sommelier is happy to help make sure you have the perfect pairing.
With its beachside location, this popular restaurant in Positano is right in the middle of all the action. Everything is served on hand painted ceramic plates by a funny and friendly staff. The menu here is solid. The food and prices are good value for money. With a focus on traditional coastal cuisine dishes, a plate of fresh mozzarella and an excellent Spaghetti alle Vongole are good bets. Paccheri Gragnano pasta Positanese is a tasty seafood ragu. There is also plenty of grilled and deep fried fresh seafood. The kitchen is open early in the evening if you are travelling with hungry children. The wine list is predominately local with some very good Greco di Tufo and Coda di Volpe labels to choose from.
La Tonnarella, Conca dei Marini | Ristorante La Tonnarella - Gillian Longworth McGuire
The easiest way to reach La Tonnarella is by boat. There is a regular shuttle service from Amalfi. You can also get to the beach from the main Amalfi Coast road by walking down a few hundred steps. This little slip of a beach and the houses set into the steep cliff above are home to a few fisherman. The restaurant has been here since the 1960s when the Amalfi Coast became the chosen getaway for movie stars and celebrities. There is even a dish named after Jaqueline Kennedy who used to dine here. Spaghetto di Jacqueline is a mix of zucchini, parmesan cheese and pancetta. The menu is mostly seafood and your best bet is to just ask what’s fresh and let them bring out plate after plate.
The fishing village of Cetara is famous for its anchovies and for the salty anchovy sauce which is called colatura. Gennaro Castiello and Gennaro Marciante shows their passion for their hometown and its fishing industry with the restaurant Acquapazza and the products they produce. The dining room is furnished with clean lined wooden tables and local tiles with graphic designs. Try the ziti with tuna bottarga and figs or a simple linguini with a sauce made from chili peppers, garlic and colatura. The dessert menu is also completely inspired by the coast and heavily features local fruit and the famous Amalfi lemons. The wine list is small but varied with a good selection of natural wines.
This ramshackle beach club a few coves over from Positano is no secret. You might be sitting next to an opera star who will break into an aria after lunch, or a European princess who is vacationing on her yacht parked out in the bay, but everyone is squeezed in together at the simple tables and chairs set in the black pebbles. The menu is on a cracked black board that is leaning against the kitchen steps. Order a jug of cold white wine with peaches while you wait for your mozzarella grilled on lemon leaves, zuppe de cozze, a rich mix of mussels cooked in tomatoes and lots of garlic and grilled fish to arrive. Look for the boat with the red fish at Positano’s main pier or walk down the 800 steps from the main road at Laurito.
Ristorante la Caravella, Amalfi | Courtesy Ristorante La Caravella
The Ristorante La Caravella in Amalfi has hosted artists like Warhol, Duchamp and La Dolce Vita director Federico Fellini. This historic part restaurant part museum has a Michelin star and has been a favorite of gourmets since the early 1960s. The Dipino family oversees the menu which changes seasonally with a wine list to match the cuisine. They offer three tasting menus featuring local ingredients with dishes like potato croquettes with provolone and a colatura sauce and squid ink ravioli stuffed with breadcrumbs and lobster. The dining room is filled with an important ceramic collection and painted frescoes by Luca Mancini. Next door is a gallery that showcases ceramics and handblown glassware.