Category Archives: anchovies

Return to Sorrento

Michele and I have always been captivated by the scenery along the Amalfi Coast and especially the views from Sorrento. We decided to return to Sorrento again this year and rent an apartment with just such a view.

The view from our terrace

The view from our terrace

We found an apartment with a terrace and a fantastic view of Mount Vesuvius and the surrounding area. The cruise ships anchored right below the apartment, and at night so did the fireworks barge.  It looked like a private fireworks display just for us.  It was quite a sight!IMG_3101

The apartment did not have WiFi so we had breakfast in the morning and drinks at night at a cafè/bar called the Square and read our e-mail.  The first night in Sorrento we went for dinner to a restaurant called ReFood. There was a big display of fresh fish at the entrance that looked very appealing, though most of the tourists in the restaurant were eating steak.  Not a great idea.



We went for the fish and vegetable dishes which were very good.  I ordered an Etna Bianco Superiore 2006 Pietramarina from Benanti made from 100% Caracanti.IMG_3092

I had the grilled calamari and Michele had pasta with zucchini and cheese. Michele enjoys the zucchini in Italy because the variety they grow is less watery and has more flavor than the kind grown here.

One of the reasons we like to visit Sorrento is that it is easy to take the bus or the local train to visit surrounding towns and we don’t need to rent a car. One of our favorite places to go is to Restaurant Lo Stuzzchino, a scenic half hour bus ride from Sorrento in the town of Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi.

The owner of the restaurant is Domenico (Mimmo) De Gregorio who is also the sommelier. In the kitchen are his father Paolo, his mother Filomena and his wife Dora. Often when Mimmo was calling an order into the kitchen we would hear him holler “Mamma”.  It is a true family restaurant.IMG_3103

Last time we were there he introduced me to a wine made from the Caprettone grape from the area around Mount Vesuvius.  I really liked this wine and asked if he still had any. He said he had a wine made from this grape but from a different producer. So he brought over a bottle of the 2011 Caprettone from Casa Barone.



The food at Lo Stuzzichino is excellent. I ordered the ravioli again. There were six, two filled with cows milk ricotta, two from sheep and two from goat. Each pair had its own special sauce. Michele had pasta with potatoes and provolone cheese, a typical dish of the region, which she really enjoyed.

Antico Francischiello Restaurant is about 20 minutes by bus from Sorrento. It is a lovely restaurant with a great view of Capri and excellent traditional food so we returned again this year.



There was a group of Japanese tourists in the restaurant when we arrived that were having a very good time eating ravioli followed by whole fish roasted in a salt crust.  After lunch most of them ordered tea, which was served in teapots, and there were the small traditional teacups for them to drink from. The interior of the restaurant in very elegant and it is the only restaurant in the Sorrento area to be honored as one of the Historic Restaurants of Italy.

We started with a vegetable antipasto, which we had enjoyed the last time we were here, and it was just as we remembered it. The dish that was our favorite was home made pasta with artichokes and squid, something we have never had before.IMG_3142

They have a nice wine list but they were out of a number of things because they were waiting for a delivery. The owner recommended a Fiano di Avellino “Ventidui” 2011 from Villa Araiano and it was a good choice.

We also returned to Torre del Saraceno, which is one of the most expensive restaurants in the area. The tasting menu that we ordered was 125 Euros a person but there were ten courses. My favorite course was the risotto topped with crispy seaweed.  It is a very elegant restaurant and the service is excellent. The chef Gennaro Esposito travels a lot, and in March we saw him outside SD26 in NYC where he was doing a special dinner.IMG_3132

The wine I ordered was the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva 2006 Villa Bucci. 100% Verdicchio from vines which are 40 or 50 years old. This is a great white wine that I do not drink or write about often enough. It is aged for at least 1-1/2 years in Slavonian oak casks of 50 and 70 HL, very unusual for a white wine, plus in bottle for one year before release. It is very complex and elegant with hints of hazelnuts and honey and a touch of spice.IMG_3150

In Sorrento on the last day we returned to Restaurant Basilica. We sat outside in a corner table in the shade. I started with marinated white anchovies followed by pasta with scampi and tomatoes. Michele ordered mozzarella di bufala and said it was excellent. It looked so good that I had to order it, too.  It was delicious.IMG_3148

They had the 2004 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini, 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This is one of my favorite white wines and it was about $55, less than retail in NY so I had to drink it. The waiter could not get the cork out of the bottle so he had to push it in.  Then he decanted the wine so there was no way to chill it.  We drank it at room temperature and I enjoyed it so much that I will never chill this wine again.




Filed under anchovies, Antica Francischiello, Basilica restaurant, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lo Stuzzichino- Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, Restaurant REfood, Sorrento, Torre del Saraceno, Villa Bucci

Costiera Amalfitana: Praiano-Amalfi-Cetara

Describing the views in Praiano is just about impossible. No matter where you are — from our rented house, the piazza in front of the church, our favorite Bar del Sole and the restaurants and hotels, you can see Capri in the distance and nearby Positano.  The hotels San Pietro and Tritone are visible and built into the cliffside overhanging the water. At night the sun sets on the mountain behind Positano. And of course there is the sea.

The first and last restaurant we always go to in Praiano is La Brace, a local trattoria.  We first discovered it in 1983.  Like just about everything in the town, the restaurant is up a flight of stairs.  This was the beginning of my “Alici Period.”  Alici, for the uninitiated, is another word for acciughe, or anchovies.  These were fresh caught, not preserved, and have a rich flavor that is quite different from the kind in tins.

Spaghetti con Alici

I had spaghetti con alici and tomato followed by perfectly fried alici which were so good I almost ordered more.  Instead I ate some of Michele’s.  We drank Falanghina del Sannio 2011 from Cantina Taburno and on the second visit Greco di Tufo 2010 from Mastroberardino.  We also had fried alici on the second visit. Michlele ordered octopus (polpo) salad- she would order it often in different preparations on the trip. She also had the spaghetti with zucchini, a local specialty.

La Taverna del Leone

This may have become our new favorite restaurant. It is outside Positano and we decided to walk.  The road offers  great views that you do not see from the bus or a car and you can stop and admire them.  However it is over 2km, there are no sidewalks and the road is narrow, and most of it is uphill.  We took the bus back and both ways the second time we went.

Chitarrine Amatriciana

Michele had the insalata polpo, octopus salad here also, followed by ravioli with baccala.  I saw on the menu chitarrine amatriciana with smoked guanciale from Sauris, a town in Friuli renowned for its smoked meats, and fish.  I just had to order it.  Michele explained that chitarrine are homemade spaghetti made on a device known as a chitarra, which uses guitar-like strings to cut the pasta.  This version was better than the amatriciana I have eaten in most places in Rome.  In fact it was so good I ordered it the second time that we ate here, along with the baccala in tempura batter.  Light and puffy, this was a great main course.

Both times we ate at La Taverna del Leone, we had the same wine Pompeiano Bianco IGTKarà “ 2010 100% Catalanesca from Societa Agricola Cantine Olivella.Cannoli

For dessert we had the cannoli filled with bufala ricotta.  They were so good; I ordered them both times, too.

Lido Azzurro is a very nice restaurant on the water overlooking the port in Amalfi.

Alici Fritti

We sat outside and I ordered the alici fritti con ripiene di provola fume, fresh anchovies stuffed with smoked mozzarella, spaghetti alle vongole, with clams, and scampi e gamberoni sulla griglia, grilled shrimp and langoustines. We drank the 2008 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini. I should have had them decant the wine, as it was still too young.

Ristorante al Convento

Alici Fritti

Is located in Cetara, a beach town just outside Salerno.  It is famous for its alici!  The restaurant has a nice outside terrace overlooking a small square with the town rising in the background. The menu features alici in a number of different preparations. I started with a misto of alici, followed by pasta puttanesca di alici and then alici fritti con cipolla. Michele’s first two courses were alici but she said basta alici and for the main course and had seppie arrosta.  I ordered a sparking Falanghina but they did not have it so I ordered Biancolella Ischia DOC 2011 Made from 85% Biancolella and 15% Forastera, San Lunardo and Uva Rilla Casa D’Ambra.

We liked the alici so much that we stopped in a store and brought 2 jars to take home.

Trattoria dei Cartari is a very unpretentious restaurant in Amalfi. We had eaten here before but this time it looked a little run down. All of the customers were tourists ordering pizza with beer or with cappuccino.  We almost did not go in. When the waiter came over to take our order he almost did not understand what we wanted. He kept on making suggestions and he could not believe that we knew what we wanted and were ordering a full meal. When he realized this he took away the paper napkins and utensils and replaced them with cloth napkins and better utensils!Alici

I started with fried alici, moved on to pasta with seafood, grilled langoustine, and for dessert a lemon cake topped with pine nuts. The wine was Falanghina “Serrocielo” 2011 from Feudi di San Gregorio.

La Caravella

This is a Michelin one star restaurant located just after the entrance to Amalfi. We have been here a number of times The and the same waiter is always there. It is an elegant restaurant with perfect service. We always order the tasting menu

There were many courses, but highlights included a tiny fried alici stuffed with provolain an anchovy and basil sauce.  Michele said she could have eaten 5 or 6 of those.

Pasta with two sauces

Squid ink ravioli with lobster filling, and pasta with 2 sauces, one spicy and the other with seafood also stood out.  As a palate cleanser, they served a creamy lemon sorbet drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.  The wine was Verdicchio Classico Riserva 2000 100% Verdicchio Bucci. This is a great wine!



Filed under acciughe, Alici, Amalifi Coast, Amatriciana, anchovies, Cetara, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, La Taverna del Leone- Positano, Praiano, Restaurant La Brace- Praiano, Restaurant La Caranella- Amalfi, Restaurant Lido Azzurro-Amalfi, Ristorante al Convento-Cetara, Trattoria dei Cartari- Amalfi