Just back (Late April/early May 2008) from 5 days in Amalfi and two in Naples (I will post a short Naples report separately). I want to thank JenKalb and everyone else who was so helpful in offering suggestions prior to our trip. This will be the first of two Amalfi area reports.
The town of Amalfi proved to be an excellent base for 5 days on the Coast. We found it easy to explore nearby towns on the blue SITA buses and Amalfi itself is a marvel..the piazza in front of the Duomo and the main street runnning north from here might be clogged with tourists, but there is another world waiting beyond, so take time to explore the stepped streets and covered passageways that climb the hillsides rising from the port areas.
A PARANZA, ATRANI.
..A SlowFood pick located in the tiny town of Atrani, about a 15 minutes walk from Amalfi's main square, this was one of our favorite restaurants of the week and we had two dinners here. Lovely, whitewashed, arched room; extraordinarily friendly service; English spoken; lovely white plates with hand-painted fish. We noticed that few diners actually glanced at the menu, preferring instead, to confer with one of the owners about the best dishes on offer that day.
Dinner #1. (all dinners were for two persons with house wine)
Bruschetta served before meal..topped with chopped tomatoes and (I think) colatura of anchovy. Excellent bread.
Fiore di Zucca Ripieni in Pastella (please forgive any mistranslations and spelling errors!) Fabulous rendition of a popular local dish..zucchini flowers stuffed with a mixture of fresh ricotta and anchovy and lightly fried. Wonderful!
Spaghetti Vongole. Excellent rendition of this classic..made with two types of clams: vongole verace and tartufi di mare (hard shelled).
Grilled Scampi. Very good. Scrumptious meat inside the heads. So wonderful to be served shrimp with heads on!
Scialatella a la Siciliana. Wonderful dish of thick flat long pasta made in house, served with light sauce of eggplant, mozzarella and tomato. Everything you have read bout the tomatoes of Campania is true! And it was not even the season! Wonderful!!
House white: Colli di Castelfranco Falango (100% Falanghina).
Total with cover and water: 55 Euro
Dinner #2 at A PARANZA in Atrani
Plate of Bruschetta (complimentary; see above)
House Falanghina (see above)
Fiore di Zucca (see above)..as great as the first time!
Mixed clams (vongole and tartufi) sauteed in oil and garlic...one of my favorite dishes of the week. A wonderful alternative to the spaghetti with vongole..just pure clammy goodness. Miraculous!
Gnocchi with tomato and mozzarella (not on the menu but prepared to accommodate the non-fish-eater at the table). Superlative.
Paccheri Amalfitana. Paccheri are short, wide tubes. Marvelous combination of pasta with arugula, cherry tomatoes and chunks of head-on shrimp. One of the best dishes in a week of fabulous food.
Lemon cake..sinfully delicious house special composed of cake with lemon cream on top.
Total with cover and water..68 Euro.
CUMPA COSIMO...RAVELLO (Lunch)
Quintessential no-frills 80-year-old trattoria presided over by the daughter of the original owner, Cosimo.
Just tell Netta what you are in the mood for. Trust her. Great renditions of local favorites.
Many of the vegetables grown on her farm in nearby Scala.
Orata..simply prepared with wine and lemon, fileted at table.
Canneloni with meat, tomato, mozzarella...wonderful; a far cry from most renditions of this classic.
Salad of tomato and mozzarella..(complimentary) Impeccable ingredients..
With carafe of white wine and water, 35 Euro.
AL CONVENTO, CETARA
I highly recommend driving or taking the SITA bus to this fishing village celebrated for its anchovy and tuna, where there are 3 SlowFood restaurants. This was the first of two meals we ate in Cetara and was another highlight of the week. Formerly part of a 17th-Century convent, the arch-ceilinged dining room decorated with frescoes is a lovely setting for pesce azzuro in various permutations. Prices here are quite a bit lower than in the more touristed towns of the coast. A CH classic.
Cannelloni con ricotta e stracciatella di bufala. Marvelous dish for the shunner of fish.
Tortino di Scarola e Bottarga di Tonno..chunky flan/pudding of escarole and raisins (reminded me of dish made with red onions at Tattoria Monti in Rome) topped with generous shavings of bottarga. Innovative and wonderful.
Spaghetti con Colatura di Alici..the descendent of the Roman garum used here to flavor spaghetti. Wonderful, classic dish, listed on the menu as one of the "Piatti della Tradizione"
Pizza Margherita (Al Convento is also renowned for its pizzas and we were not disappointed)
Bottle of house white wine..Sammarco from Ravello. Good enough.
Total with cover and water: 30 euros.