Amalfi Coast recs - particularly Praiano?
We'll be staying in Praiano for a week and I was wondering if anyone could make some recommendations for worthwhile dining establishments and food stores.
here are a few observations culled from chowhound from a couple years ago, some from others and some from myself.......have a great time!
a favorite. la praia - armandino. right before you get to positano is this teeny little fishing village with the most wonderful restaurant. it's the last one (of 2 or 3 I think) on the right before you get to the little wharf & cliff walkway. don't expect great decor or stable tables wharfside, but well worth a stop. their spaghetti alle fruitti de mare & home cured anchovies are great as is the linguini alle vongole - it's a don't miss. down in the marina del praia (the little rocky beach at the end of praiano and the last stop on the looping bus before it turns around), the trattoria da armandino (it's the restaurant on the right if you are facing the ocean). family run, a handful of tables outside in the marina/harbor/beach, where you can watch the local kids scamper around while their dads have a drink and chat with armandino. gets a mix of well-heeled tourists and not-very-well-heeled locals. great linguini alle vongole, calamaretti fritti, melanzane parmagiana.
i'm head over heels in love with praiano - the little orange SITA buses that do a circuit of positano also do a loop with praiano.
in praiano I can recommend: il pino, in "town" (what there is of it) with vista sul mare. fresh fish is the way to go here - just put yourself in the waiter's hands and go with the catch of the day, which will frequently appear first as a sauce for pasta and then as a secondo, large portions, scrumptious. The prices are quite modest - the bill always seems somewhat improvisational, especially with the waiter bringing us various contorni, desserts and limoncelli unbidden that don't make their way onto the bill. This is the kind of place where if you go there a couple of times and ESPECIALLY if you make the effort to speak a little Italiano, you will become a regular and the staff will open their hearts and the gates to the kitchen for you.
la brace, on the main drag in "town", lovely pasta (partial to the one with the anchovy based pesto), grilled catch o' the day or squid... the wine list is particularly nice and the desserts are excellent. they also do a good pizza at dinner time. the view from the veranda is breathtaking.
if you are near vico equense, it seems a shame not to try la torre del saracino, which gets one of the highest food ratings in gambero rosso and is quite reasonably priced, given the quality.
in positano if you venture down for one meal, try convinum, an informal and reasonably priced place run by the Iaccarino family (of Don Alfonso fame).
a paranza in atrani for lunch.......
take a sita bus,or drive down the coast to cetara, a small fishing village near maori. there's a nice restaurant named aqua pazza, down near the water. cetara ia one of the only places in italy where colatura, a descendant of garum,is still made commercially. the chef at aqua pazza serves it with spaghetti and tomatoes.
(colatura ia a refined clear liquid made from keeping some salted layered anchovies in a press/crock for a few months or so, until they yield a liquid, which is then strained...very similar to thai fish sauce. the version in cetara, made by a company called delfina, had a sprig of thyme or oregano in the bottle as well - it's one of those things that you like....or don't)
one great place that I forgot to mention is the cantina san nicola in amalfi. it's tough to find - we had read about it in slow food and tried to find it for awhile before somehow stumbling upon by accident - it's in a decommissioned 12th c. church. excellent place to spend a drunken afternoon snacking and sampling....
cantina san nicola
via salita marino sebaste, 8
Tel. 089 8304549
We too went to the amalfi coast for our honeymoon last September, but we stayed in Ravello, which was beautiful but not as foodie friendly as Praiano. Armandino's really is that good, and I'd urge you to take a trip up to Cetara for Acqua Pazza (we stopped for lunch on the drive in from Naples.) - This was actually my favourite meal of the trip, since we simply left ourselves in the hands of the chef and ate like kings.
We also had a lovely meal at Lido Azurro on the waterfront in Amalfi. This is a favourite of tourists and might be scorned by authenticity-mad chowhounds, but the seafood was unbelievably fresh and prepared simply and elegantly. And the outdoor dining room on the water made it our most romantic meal.
Another excellent food-related thing I can reccommend is a drive over the Lattari mountains, beyond the agricultural centre of Agarola, to buy olive oil directly from the producers, which you'll find easily enough by asking around in Agarola (no one spoke much english, and we don't speak italian, but there was no problem). Our massive plastic vat of dark green elixir is still going strong - and we may never be able to use supermarket oil again. But it was also amazing to see how quickly the landscape changed from ritzy beach towns to dusty (and somewhat run down) farming communites. Not many tourists venture there.
Lucky you, spent 2 weeks in an apartment looking over the water there last June and had a great time. Aside from the obvious req's for Armandino's I also enjoyed Paradiso Restaurant which is just up the path (not the main road but the waterfront pedestrian path) from Onde Verde Hotel. I was partial to Paradiso for lunch more so than dinner but the service was excellent and their proscuito and mozzarella appetizer was outstanding.
For grocery related items don't miss the Tutti per Tutto up the hill in the main town, not on the "highway". Great place for all your day time deli and vino needs.