Sicily and positano.
I have done a lot of research on resturants and came to the conclusion that 12 days is far too little. I have narrowed my list and would love first hand advice. I'm convinced that concierges get kickbacks and when I asked american express concierge, the list they sent me was direct from frommers. So I have searched chowhound boards, checked out slow food, and searched the web to come up with the following:
Taoromina, have 2 nights.
osteria nero D'avola
Syracusa, 1 night
la gazza ladra
Agrigento, 1 night
La madia i nlicata
Palermo, 1 night
osteria dei vespi
antica focacceria san francesco (I think this may be too casual)
Positano 3 nights
Buca di Bacco
Missing nights are accounted for in spas and rome. Thank you so much for your imput. I wish I could just wander around for months eating my way through italy. I'm looking for really memorable food regardless of price. I don't mind paying for it but sometimes the best food is in the undiscovered hideaways.
I know I'm late to the party here, but I wanted to voice my approval of Max's. The service is great, the food was wonderful (particularly the squash blossoms) and the room is pretty. If you have a chance though, I'd recommend going to the Villa Maria restaurant in Ravello. The best baccalà I've had anywhere, ever.
The places you list for Taormina are all good, but I think that Nero D'Avola is a step above the rest. Its location is very quiet and romantic at night, and the owner and staff are extremely friendly and informative. Most importantly, the seafood and pasta are as good as it gets. Try the raw fish or the Etna mushrooms if available, and make sure you finish with a glass of Passito di Pantelleria.
For Palermo, definitely Sant Andrea or I Grilli, which is in the adjacent piazza.
In Positano, if price is no object, go to Donna Rosa, but you will need to make a reservation.
Great, I was looking for someone to confirm my thoughts on these resturants. We have 2 nights in Taormina, which would be your second choice after Nero D'Avola? Also have 3 nights in positano, what would be your other choices. I do need to have lunch at chez black, I still have fond memories of the spaghetti with zucchini from 15 years ago. Thank you for your imput.
In Taormina, if price is no object, go to Maffei's. Our lunch there in 06 was 104 euro, so dinner may run a bit more, but the whole fish was sublime. We lunched at Al Duomo, which was right by our apartment, and the pasta was especially good. La Griglia is a good casual restaurant, but the atmosphere is a bit austere. Ristorante Naumachie was also good, but there's a place I'd recommend more; I need to check my journal for the exact name.
In Positano, I'd definitely say Il Capitano. Max's is very good, but it is more geared towards Americans. Order a caffe there and you will get an American coffee. Saraceno D'Oro is also good and worth a look.
Hi Erica, I read all of your posts and really enjoyed them. I've taken notes on all of your recommendations. Can you tell me more about the mozzarella stands you mentioned. I read somewhere that there is a large buffalo farm in amalfi that makes a lot of the cheese for the area. Do you know anything about it? I'd love to take a tour if possible. Where did you find the stands, are they only in certain areas? I'm looking foward to the fresh cheeses of the area.
There is no mozzarella stand in Amalfi. You can buy cheese there, though, in the shops.
But the town of Agerola in the hills above Marina del Cantone is famous in the area for its cheeses. But I am almost certain that those would be made with cow's milk, not buffalo milk. For the buffalo cheeses, you have to go south of Salerno near Battipaglia and near Paestum. I did not travel the road that runs south from Battipaglia but I have read that there are stands on that road.
We visited a masseria in Paestum, not far from the archeological site. We arrived about noon and they were finished with the cheese making for the day but if you call them I am sure they will tell you when you can watch this in the mornings. They have a cheese store in the rear of the kitchen area where they sell dozens of kinds of cheeses, mostly buffalo milk but some from cow milk, and butter. Here is the info:
Via Porta Marina, Paestum Tel: 0828.722002
There is also the Seliano Agriturismo in Seliano not far away; they ahve a herd of buffalo and I believe you can arrange to watch the cheesemaking and also to have lunch there:
I have just spent a few days in Palermo researching for my book and I can say that of thirty countries visited so far (and over 100 cities) Palermo ranks in the top five for food
Do try some of the street food. The Pani Ca Meusa is a sandwich of simmered spleen and lung meat served on a soft roll and sprinkled with salt and lemon juice
Polpo is boiled in salted water and served head and all
I can recommend a very good little place off Piazza San Domenico called Caffe Antico which specialises in the local dishes like Spaghetti Con Sarde and Ricci (sea Urchin)
Local pizza was called Sficione and is not to my taste but worth trying.
For wine, there is a great place called Cana on Via Alloro, 105 which is run by a young couple passionate about Sicilian wines. Try the salumi plates of cheese and ham. The local sheeps ricotta is stunning. The white wines (grillo and Insolia grapes ) are very good too
Here are a couple fo posts from my blog that may help
re: Simon Majumdar
Thank you for all the advice. I loved the pictures on simons blog. I love food and am willing to try almost anything. I used to eat a lot of tripe and have even had monkey brains. However, I tend to stay away from innerds lately so ,as much as you recommend the spleen and lung sandwich, I don't think I'll be tempted. Cana on Via Alloro looks great for lunch. I love local cheeses and salamis with a glass of wine. Thanks.