Off to Matera. I had a few recommendations for Matera but when I mentioned them to our Air B+B host, he dismissed all of them and told us they were too far away. Turns out he was an idiot. But we managed anyway. First night we ended up at Trattoria del Caveoso, which was just near our accommodation. Didn't have a reservation so we had to wait (we went for negronis up the street). I can't remember everything - actually anything - but it was a good dinner and I'd go there again. Service was friendly and the outdoor tables were great.
Next night we were really skunked because it was a Saturday and everything was packed. We ended up making a reservation at a place we only knew about because someone handed my friend the business card while we were walking around during the day. It was in Piazza San Pietro Barisano which AS IT TURNS OUT is where all the recommendations our host had dismissed were located. NOT far at all. Just in the next neighbourhood. We walked there. Ristorante da Nico - very nice, simple place. Food was decent, not expensive, nice outdoor tables. I had pasta with truffles which was really delicious. And we all shared a couple of salads that were nicer than most of what we'd seen up to that point.
Lunch the next day was at Oi Mari, which was just down the street from the place we'd had dinner the night before. The outdoor area was full but we sat inside, which is a beautiful cave space. Most people were having huge Sunday lunches, which looked amazing. But we had dinner plans so we just ordered pizzas. They were excellent and interesting.
Last night in Matera we went to a place recommended to us by our walking tour guide - Osteria al Casale. It was wonderful! We had a bunch of antipasti followed by either primi or secondi. I shared the tagliata with my one non-vegetarian friend and it was just about the best thing I ate on the trip. Perfectly cooked and wonderfully seasoned (or not seasoned - it was hard to tell). One friend had a risotto, which she didn't love. Another had some kind of fish. All I remember is the tagliata. At the end of dinner, there was a party at the next table celebrating a birthday and they sent us over some cake. Suddenly we were part of the family - lots of fun.
From there we drove to the Amalfi coast. We arrived on the coast at Vietri Sul Mare just around lunchtime. SO lunch of course. Everything I had considered was closed because it was Monday but I found this one place - Ristorante dal Pescatore. And it turned out to be great. Just along the seaside, very quiet on a weekday off season. We had really wonderful grilled fish, excellent sides including some kind of braised endive and potatoes. We were convinced to order the homemade peach sorbetto which was unbelievable. I know we ate other things - everything was delicious and I'd go back if I were ever in the area. Which I will never be because I never want to drive along the Amalfi coast again
From there we continued to our house, which was in the town of Praiano, just 20 minutes from Positano. Our one restaurant meal in Praiano was at a place called Kasai, overlooking the water on the edge of a cliff (but what isn't?). We all enjoyed our meal - I had pasta with truffles (again) and it was excellent. Don't remember what my friends had.
One day we took the ferry from Positano to Cetara, which is a fantastic way to see the coast without driving along the Road of Death (as I like to call it). Cetara is great! Small fishing village still very much intact. They do anchovies. Period. That's it. So we ate at La Frittura del Golfo - and of course had fried anchovies (perfect!) and pasta with tomatoes and colatura, the very intense fish condiment still made as it was always made right in Cetara. The owner of the restaurant, Antonella, is a riot and we became instant friends. She feigned a heart attack when we told her two of us were vegetarians. And then one of the vegetarians ate the calamari and all was well again.After lunch of course I bought too many bottles of colatura to bring home and also more anchovies than I really need. That was a really good day
And finally Napoli. First meal was pizza at Da Michele. I know, I know - other places exist and have equal or better reputations. But this one was walking distance from our apartment - well, several ones were but this one I could find - and we were hungry. So we went. Such a crazy scene - you take a number like at the bakery and wait to be called to the table. It was fun and great. I loved watching the process and the pizzas were excellent, if a little soggy in the middle. I would have liked to try some of the others but we just ran out of meals.
The next day we had lunch at Trattoria La Campagnola, right on Via Tribunale. Very hidden away amid the mayhem. Menu is on a blackboard - all locals at the tables, it looked like. We shared some antipasti - stuffed zucchini flowers and something else - and then ordered primi. One friend had a pasta dish that was so al dente that it seemed almost uncooked. I had pasta with some kind of fish I couldn't identify, and it was good but not fantastic. I think we may all have ordered a little wrong - the place looks like it has potential but just didn't measure up.
One other random note was Friggitoria Fiorenzano on Via Pignasecca. Found by walking around and I had the most wonderful fried zucchini flowers. Crisp and hot and perfect. Also arancini. Wished I could eat more but I couldn't.
Last night I had trouble again - Saturday night is hard to get reservations to anywhere. So I ended up finding this funny little place just down the street from our apartment. It was open at 10 a.m. and I walked in. Looked interesting so I made a reservation for that night. Part restaurant, part wine cellar - L'Enotcea del Grottino. Filled to the rafters with bottles of every kind of wine and spirit you can imagine - it was like eating in eccentric uncle's basement. We loved it. The incredibly grumpy host made it even more fun. Food was good - we had a smoked tuna carpaccio and something else for antipasti. I had some kind of pasta with a very meaty sauce, the vegetarians had tomatoey pasta. I don't remember much else. But it was a great evening and we loved the place. I'd go back.
And that's a wrap. In general the wine everywhere was excellent - primitivos and aglianicos were just wonderful, even the inexpensive ones. We often just took one meal out a day, eating either lunch or dinner gathered from the market. Fruit and vegetables were fabulous. It was a great trip and a really interesting part of Italy.
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