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Bound for Amalfi..please advise!

We will be spending 5 nights in Amalfi (and 2 in Naples; will post separately after doing more research) at the end of the month. I am looking for great eating and any and all food-related tips.

Most dinners will be in Amalfi, where we are staying, but also willing to take the bus to nearby towns for great eating.

Also, I have planned one day for Cetara, Paestum and the mozzarella stands on the road near Battipaglia. For this we plan to hire a car and driver. I own the SlowFood book and, along with the other tips, would love to hear of any experiences in SF's Cetara osterie:

Acquapazza
Il Convento
San Pietro

Amalfi SlowFood listings are:

Cantina San Nicola
Trattoria da Rispoli (In Pogerola)

In Atrani:

A Paranza

Also would like the word on these (not in SlowFood) in Amalfi:

Da Gemma
Eolo (in Marina Riviera Hotel)
Maccus
La Caravella

Any good pizza in the town? (one name for this that I have is: San Giusseppe, owned by a local baker)

What about a lunch or dinner place in Ravello..nothing formal, however.

What foods are worth seeing out to bring home??

Many, many thanks, in advance!

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  1. Erica,
    We just got back in February. Amalfi is beautiful! We too spend a few days in Naples, Amalfi and Rome.

    Naples:
    You MUST EAT at Pizzeria Trianon and at Pizzeria da Michele. They are both a few blocks from Garibaldi station on the east side of town. There are websites and articles online debating which of these two pizzerias serve the best pizza in the world. We went to Trianon twice in our three days there. Tried about 5 different pies. Buffalo mozzarella and funghi pizzas are a must.

    Amalfi:
    Trattoria a Tari is a short walk into the town of Amalfi. They have prix fixe meals and very good frutti de mare (seafood) selection. I asked the local fruit vendor and this is what he recommended.

    Pansa (coffee shop/bakery/wine shop) is to the right of the Duomo when you first enter Amalfi. Find some time for a coffee or pastry there. We also bought wine and food for a makeshift dinner at our bed and breakfast.

    And if you see Coco, a brown lab, that always hang out around the Duomo, tell him we said hi! He followed us whereever we went, the 3 times we were in Amalfi.

    Ravello:
    Villa Ruffino Garden is a good place to see the gardens and views from Ravello. You have to pay a small fee to get in. I asked a local resident of a good place to eat and we ended up at Compa Cosimo restaurant on Via Roma. Good thing is they are open even during the off hours of 2-4pm. Our waitress was distinctively Italian, with her loud friendly voice and frilly pink apron. No english here, so brush up on your Italian. My husband had the piatti della casa, a smorgasbord of pastas and cannelloni, which was the best choice.
    We also bought fruit and olives and odds and ends at the market down the stairs from the main square.

    If you want some info about Sorrento, Capri or Rome, just let me know.

    I'm so excited about your trip! Ours was so eventful and memorable. We took 800 pics (first trip out of country for two of my friends) and I kept a 11 page journal. You'll really enjoy it.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ttsui

      I would love any tips you have on Sorrento and Capri - going to Capri this summer for a wedding - staying in Anacapri at the Caesar Augustus. How was Napoli by the way - was your chowing at all affected by the garbage strike?

      1. re: MMRuth

        Sorrento was my favorite, because we happened to be there during Carnivale. There's only 20,000 residents in this town, but they all were out strolling the street with their families. Kids are so welcomed here. They have a supermarket in the middle of town, so we bought alot of gifts and snacks and water.
        It drizzled the entire day we took to Capri. But it was still fun. Unfortunately, most restaurants are closed between 2-6pm, so the only restaurant open at that time is Verginiello. They had great food. I discovered caprese salad there. Now we make it all the time at home. If you are riding the ferry back to the mainland, try Caremar. It's cheaper and bigger. The SNAV was nauseating and small, not to mention more expensive.

        As for Naples, we weren't aware of the garbage issue, but wondered why it was so dirty. Fortunately, by staying up late to watch the SuperBowl, we were able to see the cleaning crew at work in the middle of the night. They literally scooped up all the garbage and pile it in the corner. I think Naples is a diamond in the rough. We stayed down the street from Garibaldi station, which is notoriously dirty and noisy. But I found it quaint, since it was just a short stay. And discovering Pizzeria Trianon was worth it.

        1. re: ttsui

          Thank you! I wish we were going during the "off season" but, alas, we're not.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I've gone to Europe off season for the last five years. Even though alot of things are closed, I think we still get the most for our buck. I hope you have a great trip! Don't forget to go to the Blue Grotto in Capri. We have a three year old, and the tide was too high to do so.

      2. re: ttsui

        Goodness, how can I think you for such a generous response? Asking the fruit vendor was a stroke of genius! When you say prix fixe, do you mean a set number of courses for a fixed price with no choice?

        I will start a new thread about Naples within a few days..there are so many opinions on the pizza issue... I have to do a bit more reading first so I can narrow things down before asking...

        1. re: erica

          The prix fixe comes with 3 course, with 2 choices per course. So it's still quite a variety to choose from. My p.f. was 18 euros, the same price as my husband's seafood pasta. You're welcome. Good luck on Naples. Just remember....it's a diamond in the rough. It's really a quaint city.

      3. Amalfi: Def recommend Da Gemma for lunch and/or dinner.
        Last October we had a beautiful lunch there...two photos attached. One was the Eggplant Penne and the other was a delicious Cheese Ravioli.

        As for Ravello: You must do lunch at Cumpa Cosimo. I had the pasta special of the day....I could barely finish it!

        Have a wonderful time!

         
         
         
        1. We at at this place in Paestum and the food was very good - my chickpea dish was on the simple side (they offer the local specialties. Its a rather plush environment, big place.
          http://www.lucianopignataro.com/artic.... The other patrons were mostly local business people eating wonderful looking seafood which I think I would order if visiting again. the Pignataro website which Ive recommended before has tons of recommendations in the region.

          I know you have been planning this trip for a long time - do have a wonderful time. It is a special region.

          I think a couple of the Positano reccs from Slowfood are mainly from Montepertuso, a hamlet up the hill. Im probably making a bore of myself recommending taking the mountainside walks in the area, but its truly wonderful, eating in the little villages gives a motivation and the walking burns off the cals.

          Ive previously recommended Cumpa Cosimo in Ravello. their appetizer plate and pasta plates are both excellent. Buy one of each and you have a meal for two. The over-the-top waitress somebody mentions is probably the owner, who is very friendly and famous. Yes, there are a lot of tourists in there, but the food and welcome are both genuine. BTW,Not a lot of good places to eat in that town if you x out the expensive hotel restaurants. If I had to go to a hotel restaurant Id make it "Pan's Flute" up at the Villa Cimbrone - the gardens and the view are defintitely worth the climb. the wine shop a few doors toward the main piazza from Cumpa Cosimo is very nice - the have a fine limoncello, made down in Minori, I think. If you want to do an easy walk, and your knees can take a long downhill, I suspect the walk down from Ravello to Minori through the lemon groves is a nice one. There is a well know pastry shop there where you can revive and then catch the SITA bus back to Amalfi. We walked down from Ravello to Atrani and that is wonderful too, but I think it may be more steps.

          the walk over to Atrani from Amalfi is easy, follow the signs through the town (you dont have to go on the road) and A'Paranza is worth the walk. I second the recommendation of the Pansa bakery.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jen kalb

            JenKalb: Many thanks for the wealth of good information, as always. I had forgotten about the Pignataro site. Let me know if you think of anything else and I will post back with more questions, and begin the Naples thread soon..

            I will put that Ravello-Minori walk on my list..will certainly need to work off the massive calorie intake!

            1. re: erica

              With the great tips I've received, 5 days in Amalfi is beginning to seem pitifully short.

              Here is a promising link I found from the Salerno newspaper:

              http://lacittadisalerno.repubblica.it...

              1. re: erica

                I spent 8 days in Amalfi and was never bored. Il Convento was fabulous and the pastry shop is outstanding. You have to try their candied citrus fruit. Best I have ever had. I did a lot of walking - up in the hills overlooking the sea, on the road to the next town, etc.

          2. Make sure you go to La Cambusa at the beach in Positano sit outside and ask for Mario the waiter. Tell him you know Lana.

            1. Da Gemme - fantastic! Don't miss it.

              1. Also: Just watched a rerun of Mario's original program in which he cooks a few recipes from Da Zaccaria in Atrani..I could not find much else information on this place...does anyone have experience??

                Also, do you think I need to reserve ahead for dinners?

                1 Reply
                1. re: erica

                  there are a couple of mentions on slowtrav. Im not clear from the description whether its on the Atrani or Amalfi side of the tunnel. We liked A'Paranza in Atrani a great deal but werent even aware of Da Zaccaria, so I cant comment on the comparison. Its hard to miss in these towns with the simple local dishes. The fish called "pezzogna" seems to be a choice one which they offer sometimes. We were there off season so there was more of a problem finding restaurants open than securing a table. Since you will be there for a few days Id say you can probably wait to book til you are there.

                2. We are now in Rome after spending five nights in Ravello. We had lunch at Maccus one day in Amalfi and enjoyed it greatly. It's on a quiet side street away from the main road. We shared the carpaccio of polpino (octopus) which was really terrific and each of us had a different fish. I had the fish of the day amalfitana style (a fillet in a sauce similar to puttanesca) and my husband had grilled swordfish. Everything was fresh and delicious.

                  In Ravello, we had dinner three nights at the Cumpa Cosimo. The family that owns the place (husband, wife -- the one in the phony apron, and the son -- who loves to talk about wine) were all incredibly nice and everyone there speaks wonderful English. The atmosphere is what makes this place so fun. Boisterous and warm. The "mamma" likes to pat cheeks and ply you with extra food. The food itself is very solid, basic fare. The seasonal antipasti platter was delicious. Pizza was just ok. Pastas and meats were very good. Tiramisu is definitely homemade (unlike the half frozen one we were served at our hotel.)

                  On our last day in Ravello, we discovered another restaurant Ristorante Vittoria at lunch and liked it so much that we returned for dinner. A much more sedate atmosphere but more creative food. Still, this is not overly formal. Because it's a resort community, I think a lot of variations in attire are tolerated. A couple that came after us for dinner were wearing shorts. This is a chef that has had some training and is ambitious. At lunch, my husband started with a salad of tender cuttlefish and fennel sliced so they looked almost the same topped with celery ice cream that melted into the salad. I had a zuppette di frutti di mare which was basically a bowl of clams and mussels in a small amount of spicy broth. We both had the lasagnetta which was round sheets of pasta layered with sausage and broccoli and bound with lots of cheese and cream. The presentation was artful with the pasta surrounded by drops of balsamic vinegar that added a complexity and cut the richness of the dish. For dinner, our starter was again a winner -- the artichoke flan in a rich walnut sauce. Entrees were very good though not as outstanding as the other dishes. My husband had the lamb chops and I had the shank of roast suckling pig. What a huge portion! But the meat is very moist and tender.

                  Thank god we're now tromping off the calories in Rome.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mrclark

                    Thanks for taking time to post while on vacation! I will move Maccus into the "almost definite" category..

                    Here is the site, for anyone interested:

                    http://www.maccusamalfi.it/gastronomi...

                  2. In three weeks, I am spending my honeymoon in Positano, so I have been noting everyone's suggestions. We will be staying at the Hotel Poseidon and also traveling around the region nearby. Have fun!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: pejay

                      PJ -- I just returned from Positano 3 weeks ago ... don't forget to go to Le Sirenuse Hotel and have drinks on the patio -- the view is a once in a lifetime spot!! Although, frankly, most of the hotels in Positano have the same glorious view, having drinks is the way to soak up that luxury without breaking the bank. (The Hotel Poseidon looked nice also, but we were there in March, when several hotels were not yet open for the season!!) And ... don't forget to have dinner at Max's -- the winebar/restaurant/art gallery just up the street from the church in Positano. Congrats and have fun!!

                      1. re: PeggyD

                        thanks so much...I will do all of the above!

                    2. Hi, we are in Naples right now. We tried the pizza at da Michele yesterday and were blown away. We went at 3:30 pm and there was still a long line of ppl waiting for tables! Thankfully the wait wasn't long and the pizza was worth every second of the wait! They only serve two kinds of pizza: marinara and margherita. We both had the margherita pizza. Everything about the pizza was amazing, the dough was flavourful and just slightly charred to gave it a wonderful smoky flavour, the tomato sauce was fresh and tasty, and the mozzarella was lovely. Trianon, on the other hand, seemed oddly deserted, so we haven't tried it yet.

                      We also had an absolutely wonderful dinner at Da Dora last night. The spaghetti vongole and seafood pasta are really as good as all the reviews rave about, and the grilled fish (we had Orata / Gilthead) was amazingly fresh, perfectly grilled over charcoal, and served with a simple olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, parsley and lemon juice mix. The wait staff were also extremely helpful and pleasant. We had such a wonderful dinner there. Reservations are essential though, as the restaurant is very small (about 5-6 tables of 4).