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Oct 2, 2009 11:55 AM

Amalfi Coast Hounds: Please critique my restaurant plans!

Hey Italy 'hounds, two of us are staying for a week on the Amalfi coast just outside Positano (on the road to Praiano -- near Arienzo), and here's roughly where we hope to eat while we're there (and, yes, basically all of our plans revolve around consuming food, then hiking/bussing somewhere else to consume more food, and finally collapsing in a heap in front of a nice view).
I've culled these from suggestions on this board so a BIG thanks to all previous contributors. I've tried to avoid the most touristy spots, though I know the entire area is basically a tourist playground -- hence fewer picks in Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento.

Anything you'd skip? Anything important I've overlooked? Any words of advice? Any place with a weird dress code I should know about?

**How crazy is it to walk on that main coast road at night?** Is it doable or suicidal? I'm trying to avoid taking cabs home every night, but know I will have to do it sometimes (like from Nerano, Cetara). We will not have a car.

• Acquapazza (Cetara, lunch)
• Al Convento (Cetara, lunch, or dinner if I can figure out what to do in Cetara for a full day -- is it worth it to take the bus out here twice to hit these? It sounds like it is, and I am mad for anchovies)
• Barilotto di Nonno (outside Positano, dinner)
• Cumpa Cosimo (Ravello, lunch, hiking down to...)
• A Paranza (Atrani, dinner)
• Osteria Da Luisella (Atrani, lunch, hiking over to...) <-- could trade this for one in Amalfi, like Lido Azzurro
• Santa Croce (Nocelle, dinner) <-- could trade this for something in Montepertuso, like La Tagliata
• Il Ritrovo (Montepertuso, lunch, hiking to...)
• La Brace (Praiano, dinner)
• Donna Rosa (Montepertuso, lunch, hiking down to...)
• Lo Guarrancino or Il Fornillo or Grottino Azzurro (Positano, dinner)
• Stuzzichino (Sant'Agata, lunch, hiking out to...)
• Taverna del Capitano (Nerano, dinner) maybe another meal at Max or Chez Black or somewhere else in Positano

Ambitious, definitely, and we may not do it all.

We will also have a kitchen, so if you have recommendations on where to grab the best rations (esp. for breakfasts) and what not to miss, I'd love to hear them. Thank you!!

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  1. thats a lot of restaurants and you seem to have picked out some good ones. You dont say what time of year you are going - you dont want to be tottering down the hill from Ravello to your dinner in Atrani in the dark, for example. You might want to walk down to Minori after lunch, see that town, have a pastry at the fine shop there and then return bt bus to Amalfi/Atrani for an evening stroll and your meal..

    No you do not want to walk on the coast road. Im assuming you have the sunflower hike book which will give you things to do between meals. Or, the tourist offices in each of the towns have good maps but they include less info about the villages and what you are seeing than the book.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb

      We're going at the end of the month -- and you're right, unfortunately it looks like we'll "fall back" right when we're there, so sundown will be around 5pm. Yes, we have the sunflower guide book, but hoped to pick up local maps to supplement as well. Good to know about the coast road -- that was my suspicion.

    2. Unless you go to the beach, or visit nearby Vietri for ceramics, or are a rabid photographer, you will probably not want to spend the entire day in Cetara, as picturesque as it is. The few shops shut down in the middle of the day.

      Taking the bus is not too big of a deal but you do have to stay aware of the timetables--when I was there in early May they only ran once an hour at night. There is no walking on the road on the Cetara side, as the bus stops right above the San Pietro restaurant, a few steps from Al Convento and down the block from Acquapazza.
      If your place is on, or just off, the main road, the bus driver should let you down there even if it is not an official stop.

      You do have what seems like too many places on the list,although I can understand wanting to try all of them!

      3 Replies
      1. re: erica

        If you were going to cut anything (which we will surely end up doing), what would you omit?

        1. re: _emilie_

          I would omit trying to stay in Cetara for dinner, I think - its just too remote from your home base. You will not be collapsing in front of your view, either, because you will always be somewhere else at that time of day, unless you are travelling in high summer.

          I think its going to depend on how you lay out your days. There are good restaurants (as you have noted above) in almost every town. Lay out a realistic itinerary, and you will know what to keep and what to drop. Once you do that, you can ask questions like - if I am in Amalfi/Atrani at dinner (or lunch) where should I eat? In your place, and assuming you are serious about doing some walking for a least a few days, I would take the hike book and figure out how ambitious to be - for example, we hoped to get down from Bomerano to Nocelle/Montepertuso for lunch. There are slowfood places in both those towns, so the question is which do people recommend for lunch? and then what? continue on down the hill to Positano for shopping for dinner or further exploration and then dinner. I think as you put your days together, we can help you slot in the best choices.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Ok, with Cetara now settled as definitely not a full-day thing (thanks for that), here's what I have (realizing now that my formatting above was confusing -- I was trying to spare all the other day plan details, but those may actually help):

            1) We arrive, recoup from travel with some collapsing and viewing of views, do Barilotto di Nonno for dinner (should just be a walk down the road, if we can manage not to be run down)

            2) Acquapazza in Cetara for lunch, via bus, then the same back to home base, collapsing/viewing ensues, dinner is open but should be in Positano/Montepertuso area (could just cook at our rental)

            3) Cumpa Cosimo in Ravello for lunch, via bus, then hiking down to Atrani (with a peek at Torre Dello Ziro on the way) for dinner at A Paranza (unless the times in the Sunflower guide are wrong or lunch takes 2+ hours, we should have daylight for this)

            4) Il Ritrovo in Montepertuso for lunch, via bus or car (they may pick guests up? will have to call and ask), hiking the Sentiero degli Dei eastward, then downhill to Praiano for dinner at La Brace (unless the times in the Sunflower guide are wrong, we should have just enough daylight for this too) **Any compelling reason why we should walk the Sentiero degli Dei the other way from Bomerano? Its more of a pain to get to (2 buses, via Amalfi), but we could do a quick lunch in Amalfi/Atrani, bus to Bomerano, do the walk, and then have dinner in Nocelle.

            5*) Donna Rosa in Montepertuso for lunch, via bus or car (they may pick guests up too; will have to call and ask), hiking up west of Montepertuso (via Santa Maria del Castello) then down into Positano for dinner, most likely at one of these on the western side of town: Lo Guarrancino or Il Fornillo or Grottino Azzurro (any preference here?)

            6*) Stuzzichino in Sant'Agata for lunch, via bus, the hiking down to Nerano area for dinner at Taverna del Capitano (its a relatively short hike, so should be time to lounge around Marina del Cantone)

            7) Al Convento in Cetara for lunch, via bus, then the same back to home base, collapsing/viewing ensues, dinner is open but should be in Positano/Montepertuso area (could just cook at our rental)

            *If we decide we are all-walked-out after day 3 and day 4, then day 5 and day 6 we may skip the walks and just do separate lunches those days at Stuzzichino and Taverna del Capitano, with dinners in the Positano area at Donna Rosa, etc. I have checked to make sure the restaurants closing days do not conflict with the actual days we plan to be there.

            So assuming those are the towns we will be in and when, how are the restaurant choices? Something I just can't miss or anything you'd steer us away from?

      2. You should not miss Ristorante Mare in Amalfi at the exclusive Santa Caterina Hotel

        1. Just returned from a honeymoon in Rome/Amalfi and loved every second. Is there absolutely no way for you to get a car? I know the buses are efficient but nothing trumps the flexibility of having a car on the coast. It gave us the leeway to explore every town and return to ones we loved (we went back to Minori twice to get the sflogliatella at the bakery there - so delicious!).

          Barilotto di Nonno was our favorite meal of the trip - the owners are a sweet, older couple who we will remember for the rest of our lives. They pushed the chocolate cake for dessert over tiramisu and it was probably the best dessert we had throughout the trip. The squid salad had the freshest, most flavorful texture. If you plan to dine in Positano - I would add Da Vincenzo to your list. Sit outside for a great view and have their zucchini pasta. This is also a family-owned place with a really welcoming staff.

          6 Replies
          1. re: wenhaines14

            How does one reach Barilotto di Nonno from Positano, or any other town? Is it near the main coastal road? What exactly is the location? I am just back and already dreaming about returning to Campania!

            1. re: wenhaines14

              I would love to have the freedom of a car, but I hate driving (live in Manhattan, have no car; boyfriend has no license at all, so he's no help), and all signs point to the Amalfi Coast being pretty brutal on nervous drivers like me. Plus I do enjoy a glass -- or three -- of wine. I definitely hear you though, and may be kicking myself while I wait for the bus.

              We are excited about Barilotto di Nonno too -- glad to hear you liked it, and I'll have to give that squid salad a try! Adding Da Vincenzo to the list too. Thanks!

              Erica, here's roughly where Barilotto di Nonno is (looks like the local bus and the sita bus pass nearby):


              1. re: _emilie_

                I don't want to throw off your plans, but let me add my .02 euros to your plan. We did several of the hikes you post about ... very nice ideas, the views are absolutely breathtaking and so will be your photos from those walks ... but our thoughts are more in line with hiking in the morning, having lunch somewhere casual (some of the casual spots are the best food choices) and then lay at the beach, take the bus back to our hotel, aiming to return for a leisurely rest, shower, etc. and then go out for something a bit fancier in the evening for the dinner meal. The problem is (from my humble point of view) you have some fancy places slotted for lunch (Donna Rosa -- more gourmet, Il Ritrovo -- less fancy, but still great dining!) when you will see menu items that will include (or they will presume you will want) wine. If these spots are open for lunch (you need to check -- this is not the U.S. -- some restaurants are only open for evening dinner) if you drink wine with your meal (and you are in Italy on your vacation, so you may want to linger over your meal, wine, that glorious view), you will not be in the mood afterward to walk (read hike) down the 1700 steps down from Nocelle to Positano, for example, or elsewhere. I don't want to spoil your enthusiasm, but pace yourself ... this is your vacation and you don't want to dart from place to place without relaxing a bit. Also, we travelled to Amalfi coast in the summer, and hiking in the afternoon was a bit strenuous, given the heat and all and you may want to be headed toward the beach, etc. Did I miss your time of travel in this string?? You may be planning all this in the fall, when it will be much cooler and less humid and thus, not as difficult to make these walks in the afternoon, but two italian meals (lunch and dinner on the same day) is a lot of food, and you will want to take all that into account. You might end up having cheese, salami and crackers off the balcony of your hotel if you have had a great lunch, so plan for that option as well ... you might want to book just one of your "must do" choices for any given day, knowing that your plans may change to suit your own desires of the day. Just some thoughts ... can't wait to hear how all these places were ... some of them I am still waiting to experience on my next --my fifth visit -- to the Amalfi coast. Ciao and great travels!! Peggy

                1. re: PeggyD

                  All good points. We will definitely have to stock the house full of nibbles in case we are too beat and too full to handle a real dinner. And I hadn't really thought about Donna Rosa, etc., expecting us to have wine at lunch. We could definitely leave ourselves not very hike-worthy! I'd had it in my mind that I'd be walking off calories ;) Maybe we'll try for something more casual up in Montepertuso... any suggestions?

                  We are going at the end of this month, so the weather should be pretty perfect for hiking in the afternoons (barring lots of rain), and the beach is less of a draw. A morning hike sounds great but I know I'm not getting my BF out of the house before 11 -- believe me, I will try and fail. I plan to spend that time alone with some coffee soaking up the view. You and Jen are to be admired for your diligence in getting the troops out of the house that early!

                2. re: _emilie_

                  Thanks, Emilie--it looks as if it is right on the main road so access should be very easy.
                  I will put this on my list for next time!

                  1. re: erica

                    Grazie, Emilie ... Barilotto di Nonno is definitely on my list for next time as well ... maybe I will finally meet Erica there ... seems Erica and Jen and I like all the same places ... we might as well !! I understand what you mean about wanting to sleep in and enjoy your vacation mornings ... believe me, you will love, love, love the chance to savor that view over coffee in the morning ... every day, you won't believe your eyes. In Montepertuso, I was aware of only 3 restaurants -- Dona Rosa (upscale w/ upscale price ... think fancy anniversary dinner type place), Il Ritrovo ... more homemade, but not like a trattoria ... run by a fairly famous chef and his family and they have cooking classes there as well, I believe. There is a 3rd restaurant in Montepertuso that was a family-run pizza pasta place, that had closed last summer (called Da Constantino, I think) ... we went there in 2008 and the view was to die for, and the pizza and pasta were very reasonably priced, but again, not a gourmet stop. If it is open again, it is worth a stop for the view and friendly atmosphere. My favorite lunch place up there is Ristorante Santa Croce in Nocelle -- the next town over -- open for both lunch and dinner, I understand, but we had lunch there. It was DIVINE .. I like really homey italian food quite a bit when we are in Italy -- gnocchi, ravioli, caprese salads, margherita pizzas, and I think we had our best lunch of our trip there. (With wine, of course ... and the walk down was QUITE strenuous in the sun!) I envy you the chance to do those hikes in October ... summer sun and heat was not a joke ... it was hot, hot, hot, and it dictated our interest in venturing far for dinners at locations where I really wanted to try! Just have your priorities of restaurants lined up, and then skip a few if you are overwhelmed ... relax and enjoy ... you will find some spot that is your very favorite surprise spot (maybe a casual, out of the way spot that you just loved) and then go back there again before you depart. They will treat you like family and that will clinch it ... you will be back to Campania again and again!! For us, that spot was Ristorante Il Fornillo -- in Positano -- take the orange bus that circles the route through Positano and get off at the stop that is near the Fornillo Grottoe (tell the bus driver) and then walk just 50 feet to Il Fornillo ... Margherita is the owner and she and her son serve you like you belong to them ... we have been there 4 times and their bolognese sauce was memorable! Ciao and have a great time!!

              2. For what it's worth:

                The best meal I ever had anywhere was at Don Alfonso 1890, in the town of
                Sant'Agata sui due Golfi, not far from Positano. But that was nine years ago. At the same time, the best mixed pasta I ever had was in Ravello at Cumpa' Cosimo.