Sorrento, on the Bay of Naples, has been a famous tourist spot since the days of the Grand Tour in the 19th century. Back then visitors came to admire nearby Mount Vesuvius, the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and to see the islands of Capri and Ischia. Today, Sorrento also attracts visitors who come to journey along the Amalfi Drive, which runs along the coast to Amalfi. Here are ten of the best restaurants to check out if you are visiting.
Don Alfonso 1890 is located in Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi, a small hamlet just to the south of Sorrento. The restaurant holds two Michelin Stars for its superb cuisine and wine cellar. Chef Alfonso Iaccarino trained with the likes of Alain Ducasse and took over the restaurant originally opened by his grandfather. The first Star was awarded in 1985, and the second in 1990. The philosophy behind the food at Don Alfonso aims to combine the best produce and traditions of Campania with culinary innovation. The restaurant owns its own farm, Le Perraciole, on the Sorrentine Peninsula, that supplies ingredients like the extra-virgin olive oil used at Don Alfonso. The exceptional wine cellar houses 25,000 bottles in tunnels that date back many centuries.
In the middle of Sorrento lies Il Buco, where you can sit outside just a few moments’ walk away from the sea, or inside in what were once the wine cellars of an old monastery. Critics reckon Il Buco serves some of the best food in Sorrento, and the Michelin Guide has awarded the restaurant one of its coveted stars. Carefully chosen ingredients from the Mediterranean and the nearby countryside are combined with modern techniques in the kitchens of Il Buco. There’s a tasting menu, a traditional menu, an à la carte menu, or you can let the chef devise a meal for you. The traditional menu features dishes like candela pasta with Neapolitan ragout sauce, and beef roulade stuffed with escarole and potatoes. On the à la carte you’ll find carpaccio of buffalo with golden-crusted mozzarella toasts, and steamed lobster with fried polenta.
Another central Sorrento spot for excellent cuisine is Ristorante Museo Caruso. The customer reviews describe the food on offer as the ‘best meal in Italy,’ and the restaurant holds a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. The restaurant is named after the famous operatic tenor Enrico Caruso, born and raised in Naples. The menu is traditional but is combined with modern techniques and beautiful, contemporary presentation. Inspiration comes from the Mediterranean and classic Neapolitan flavors and dishes. You can opt for the tasting menu to sample everything the chefs have to offer, or go for the à la carte option that takes you through antipasti, fish, meat, cheeses and then sweet courses.
Another place with a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor in the historic center of Sorrento is Ristorante Tavernallegra, which opened in 2010 in what was once the stable area of a 15th-century palazzo on the Via Pietà, close to the cathedral. On the menu are specials including linguine with lobster, chateaubriand fillet of beef for two, and prawns on a bed of chicory and local Sorrento lemons. Otherwise, there are mains like the ‘Gamberoni Tavernallegra,’ made with big, juicy shrimps, olive oil, onions, cream and cognac, with a tomato sauce and fried spaghetti.
You’ll find Bagni Delfino down the coast from central Sorrento at Marina Grande, an old fishing village that still retains a lot of old world charm. The restaurant sits on the waterfront, and from there, diners can enjoy spectacular views across the Bay of Naples to the huge, sprawling city in the distance. Family-owned since opening in 1968, Bagni Delfino is ranked number two out of 229 restaurants in Sorrento, according to the customer reviews on TripAdvisor – that’s better than the restaurants with Michelin Stars!
Terrazza Bosquet, Sorrento | Courtesy of Don Alfonso 1890
Terrazza Bosquet is the restaurant of the famous Excelsior Vittoria Hotel. The hotel is now over 180 years old, having been established in 1834, and is now run by the fifth generation of the Fiorentino family. Over the years, the likes of Richard Wagner, Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren have all enjoyed stays here. The restaurant holds one Michelin Star for their excellent cuisine, prepared by chef Luigi Tramontano. The hotel has its own orange grove, which provides ingredients for many of their dishes. Among those tempting dishes on offer are monkfish roulade with Mediterranean herbs, shellfish and tomato confit, and lemon cake with creamy basil, parfait or lemon sorbet.
The Ristorante Donna Sofia is dedicated to the great Italian film actress Sophia Loren, and her face looks out from countless images on the walls of the main dining room. There’s also an outdoor terrace for evening dining, where you can enjoy classic Italian dishes like porcini ravioli with truffles, calamari, and follow it all with limoncello. The restaurant has a reputation as something of a hidden gem, around 15 minutes inland from the main coastal bustle of Sorrento. As an extra bonus, the restaurant will send a car to pick you up from your hotel for free and bring you to the door.
Opposite the beautiful Villa Communale public gardens and the Cloisters of San Fernando is the equally impressive Terrazza Marziale, a rare example of Catalan-Durazzo palazzo architecture from the 15th century. It’s a bed and breakfast as well as a celebrated restaurant, with a menu of classic Mediterranean and Sorrentine cuisine. On the menu are dishes including prawns wrapped in pork with escarole stew and provolone, homemade pasta with green peppers and zucchini flowers, and baked sea-bass with capers, mint and spinach with salmoriglio sauce. To follow there’s orange and walnut pie with a traditional Italian chocolate biscuit.
In the historic heart of Sorrento, tucked away in a terrace canopied with vines, L’Antica Trattoria is the perfect place for a peaceful, quiet lunch or dinner after exploring the sites. The restaurant has been mentioned in international publications like Gourmet magazine and Bon Appetit, and has been recommended in the Michelin Guide and Italian Gambero Rosso guide. Owner Aldo D’Oria has worked in Switzerland, Germany and France, and took over from his uncle at the restaurant, overseeing the excellent wine cellar that has won plaudits from the Veronelli guide. The available dishes include lamb in Mediterranean herbs and provolone sauce, prawns in a sardine sauce with marinated tomatoes, capers and escaroles.
Don Geppi is part of the prestigious Majestic Hotel, located in Sant’Agnello just to the north of Sorrento. It lies on the Corso Marion Crawford, named after the American novelist Francis Marion Crawford who lived and died in Sorrento in the 19th century, having set many of his works in Italy. It is another Sorrento-based restaurant that now holds a coveted Michelin Star and has plenty of five-star reviews from the customers – so it’s the ideal place to head to for dinner if you’re staying in Sorrento or for a special occasion. On the menu are things like red shrimp, marine plankton and a citrus sauce, amberjack tartar in corn crust mayonnaise, risotto with mussels and potatoes, and crispy octopus with escarole and lemon.