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Jan 27, 2010 09:13 AM

Don Alfonso 1890 Restaurant

My husband and I will be traveling to Italy this summer and we wanted to know if Don Alfonso is worth the hype. Also, does anyone know the cost of dinner? Is it a tasting menu or is there a selection? All comments and opinions are appreciated!

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  1. The price, according to Viamichelin, is 140€/155€ for a tasting menu and 105€/141€ for a la carte, excluding wine.

    Is it only hype? It has two Michelin stars; Gambero Rosso gives it three forks and 93 points, the third highest number of points; L'Espresso Guida dei Ristorante grades it as excellent, its second highest classification. The ratings seem pretty unanimous: not the absolute top, but very close to it.

    Will *you* think it's worthwhile? There's no way to tell...

    1. My partner and I went for his 50th birthday in 2007. We had an a wonderful time. The food, the atmosphere and the charming co-owner, Livia Iaccarino, were all top-notch. Yes, it was expensive, but for what we received (including a personal tour of the wine cellar) it was well worth it. A lovely and romantic evening.

      7 Replies
      1. re: ttoommyy

        Thanks! We will be staying in Positano and I am wondering how far the drive is to the restaurant? Another thought was to possibly go there on our last night on the Amalfi Coast and spend that night in Sorrento which I believe is closer (although not sure how far it is from Sorrento).

        Can anyone who has been to the restaurant recently confirm the prices from viamichelin?

        1. re: bethandben

          There are also places to stay in Sant Agata dei Golfi, including I believe rooms at the restaurant. I at least would not be eager to drive those roads late at night - Id rather fully enjoy the wines of the region and stay nearby. For that reason, we usually do our distant dining at lunch time (nicer anyway to see the beautiful views!). Ive not been to Don Alfonso , and there are certainly mixed views here and elsewhere about whether they are really the best or have frenchified their cuisine for Michelin, etc. - frankly there is so much good food in that region that no particular place stands out as a must eat for me.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Jen Kalb, Sorry to butt in here with another topic, but I found your past posts on Campania and can't relocate...we're going there in May to visit wineries and eat and drink, of course, and am desperate to find some hotels in the Avellino province nearer to the wineries than the city of Avellino itself (which I've heard is kind of industrial. We've already booked a place in Calitri, but can't find anything in Taurasi, say. Feel free to email me directly with any assistance. Mille grazie!

            1. re: Shooley

              Havent been in that area. Some parts were badly hit by earthquake but there still seem to be a lot of little hill towns that might be nice to stay in. I looked in my Slowfood guide and it suggested one place in range for Taurasi, La Casa di Tornola in Bagnoli Irpino - the same town also has a recommended restaurant, Lo Spiedo. Tho I am not sure this town is much closer than Calitri.
              Carla Capalbo's Guide to Naples and Campania - which you really should read - has a great deal of info about wineries and other food producers in the area - also recommends several places - the Serino Hotel, nr Serino, Agriturismo Le Masserie di Corona near Teora, Agriturismo Nonna Rosina near Nusco
              Honestly there seem to be a fair number of b&bs, hotels and agriturismos peppered through the region. and I recommend a search and also, after you have done your winery research, calling up or emailing one or more of the wineries and asking for their suggestions nearby.
              here's one b&B, in Taurasi for example - another actually has a facebook page.
              Heres another page with some info, some outdated (hotel links lower right.

              I think you might want to find one nice place central for touring the region and stick there. good luck in your search and trip and hope you post back about how you did and particularly what you ate and drank!

              1. re: jen kalb

                Thanks so much! I do have Capalbo's book, and I'll be working with some of my wine distributors (I manage a wine shop) for winery visits, too. But I appreciate the advance suggestions from the Slow Food book (which I've ordered). And I'll look into some of the web sites you list...Thanks, again...

                1. re: Shooley

                  thats great. I thnk I recommended Luciano Pignataro's website before - its a great resource on the regional wines, vineyards and restaurants.


          2. re: bethandben

            We stayed in Sorrento when we went. We had our hotel hire a car for us. The roads are a bit much to handle at night; especially after a bottle of wine and digestivi. I believe it was about 20 minutes from our hotel in Sorrento to Don Alfonso.

        2. I was there 10 years ago, so I can't be sure how it compares today, but we had a very nice lunch. As mentioned above, the welcome and service were perfect., The food was good, you would not be disappointed, but at that time they had 3 Michelin stars, one of only 2 restaurants in Italy that had that distinction, yet I recall commenting to my partner that Michelin seems to be more generous with stars in countries other than France, as though no other country can compare to France, so they are judged on a lower standard. I have still found this to be true on more recent trips to Italy. A 3-star Michelin will be a wonderful experience, but will not compare to a 3-star in France (or Spain). But if you are in the area, and want something special, this is it. It's not too difficult a drive from Sorrento, so your idea of staying overnight there would make sense. Though there are places to stay in Sant'Agata, including Don Alfonso itself, beware it is a pretty dull town.

          1. I think the Don Alfonso is the only restaurant in Italy with 2 or more Michelin stars that is worth it. This is because the food remains Italian and not Frenchified. The ingredients are local and organic, the cooking marvelous and the Iaccarino family adorable. There are rooms there and elsewhere in Sant'Agata, a town that is a quiet aerie in this busy part of Italy.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Fred Plotkin

              Hiya Fred
              I'd add that much of what they serve comes from their own farm, and some of the recipes are from Alfonso's family. And that they deserve a medal for their influence on young chefs of the area with their message of local is good (to put it mildly). Still, the last time we went (2003), during the 3-star period, was less thrilling than the first time, maybe four years before that, and I don't remember how many stars. It was a Sunday lunch, VERY busy, but still, a three-star place should get the food to the table hot. The few rooms (or mini-apartments) are lovely.

              We're overdue for a trip back to the peninsula, but first stop will be Taverna del Capitano.

              1. re: mbfant

                Hiya Maureen (and other Italian food lovers) I was there in 2007 and 2009 and ate very well. There is a formalism in the presentation, but the food retains its integrity. Fred Plotkin

                1. re: Fred Plotkin

                  Are the via michilin prices accurate?

                  1. re: bethandben

                    Don Alfonso's listing at Relais & Chateaux, which is presumably up to date, says 155-170 € for tasting menu, 114 € for a la carte, both including service and excluding wine.

            2. On my profile I've listed Don Alfonso as the best meal I ever had. Yet I was there last in March 2002, when I overnighted in one of the rooms which the restaurant offers -- really a suite. The breakfast that the chambermaid brought me was worthy of the restaurant.

              You can take a cab from Sorrento, or drive and park behind the restaurant. Just be careful with the traffic pattern in the town. Before supper, go up the hill to the convent and enjoy one of the finest views of the Bay of Naples and Capri -- famous during the age of The Grand Tour.

              The restaurant indeed grows much of its own food, and try its special lemoncello -- served not ice cold.