Flanked by cliffs and flooded with visitors, the namesake town of Southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast is a Medieval maritime power turned modern tourist hub. Given Amalfi’s resort-town reputation, careful travellers can make premature assumptions about its restaurant scene. But toss out those expectations with your shrimp shells: fresh catches, milky cheeses and other high-quality hallmarks of Campania cuisine abound at all price points.
Some families make you sing for your supper, but the Buonocore clan, owner-managers of Zeffiro Sereno, take you boating for your lunch. This surprisingly modest, sea-facing spot is inaccessible by foot, adding an element of VIP secrecy and adventure to your midday meal – book ahead and organise a pickup. Once you’re on shore, enjoy house specialities like the spaghetti alle vongole (clam spaghetti), best washed down with a glug of regional white wine.
It’s easy to build a day around Da Teresa, set on the Spiaggia Santa Croce. Rent a lounger in the morning, then throw on a cover-up and head to the trattoria once the sun starts coming on strong. Tubetti (tube-shaped pasta) with local squid and fresh tomatoes make a satisfying lunch that won’t weigh you down, should you want to wade back into the water. Just know that locals swear off swimming for at least two hours post-dining – an unwritten cultural rule, inherited from Italian elders, that still holds strong.
If you ever do max out on waterfront views and fish-based meals, venture to this farmhouse restaurant, about half an hour’s walk from the bustling Piazza del Duomo. Set in a woodsy dreamscape at the entrance of a nature reserve, Fore Porta’s staff stay busy growing Sfusato Amalfitano lemons, the region’s pride and joy. Dishes vary by day and season, but are always taken from the garden’s bounty.
This homespun restaurant is a favourite in Amalfi’s Valle dei Mulini area, which is peppered with the antique cartiere (paper mills) that inspired its name. Leaving little room for international flourishes, traditional Amalfitan cuisine is the bread and butter at Cartari. Highlights such as totano e patate (squid and potatoes) and homemade seafood scialatielli – a fresh pasta popular along the Amalfi Coast – taste even better served atop the lovingly laid blue-and-gold tablecloths.
This shabby-chic steakhouse is your answer to seafood overload. With Acquolina’s wooden wine shelves and exposed brick archway, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was an Alpine winter hideaway – until you glimpse the shimmering sea through the window. Wood-fired pizzas are crowd-pleasers if you’ve got a vegetarian in tow; meatier mains include the lamb and the fried chicken. It’s not exactly an Amalfi standard, but here, it’s caught on.
You’d have to get exceedingly lucky to stumble on San Giuseppe, a hole-in-the-wall on a steep vicolo (side street). Adjacent to the arched, white-stucco entrance, a tabernacle and blue-clothed tables signal that you’ve found a special place. Request an outdoor seat for a true Mediterranean vibe. House specialities like the risotto with Mazara red prawns or the caper-sprinkled amberjack will satisfy, wherever you’re sitting.
Looking for more recommendations on the Amalfi Coast? Opt for a glitzy stay at one of these luxury hotels or enjoy more privacy in a holiday apartment. You can even book your next stay right here on Culture Trip. There’s plenty to do, too, from hiking the Amalfi Coast’s Path of the Gods to sipping intricate cocktails at some of the best bars around.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Courtney Stanley.