The Amalfi Coast is every bit as glamorous as you might expect the former playground of Greta Garbo to be. There’s a gorgeous vista around every hairpin turn and at least one epic multicourse meal to be eaten in each of this region’s charming villages. This area stretching from Sorrento along the southern coast of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula is known for views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, sprawling villas and delicious food. This is Campania, a region of southern Italy where staples are handmade pastas, fresh mozzarella, locally-grown tomatoes and local seafood. Recipes are simple, and freshness is key in Sorrento and along the Amalfi Coast. This is what to eat and drink on your next trip to this Italian paradise.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a classic dish with just a handful of ingredients: gnocchi, tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. You’ll find it on most menus, but If you really want an authentic local experience try making your own at a cooking class. Penisola Experience conducts cooking classes at a seaside villa just outside of Sorrento. A local chef will teach you how to make hand-rolled gnocchi alla Sorrentina from scratch. You’ll also learn to make Tiramisu and a meat, fish, or vegetarian main dish like eggplant parmesan.
Parmigiana di Melanzane
For an eggplant parmesan beyond anything you’ll find on the menu of an American chain restaurant, head to the Terrazza Bosquet at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2014. Executive chef Antonino Montefusco shared the secrets to his recipe in 2016: Start with ripe eggplants that have shiny, taut skins and don’t cook the tomato sauce for more than 30 minutes before layering it between slices of eggplant and placing it all in the oven.
No trip to Italy would be complete without cheese. On the Sorrentine peninsula, you’ll want to make a point to try treccia, a cow-milk mozzarella that’s twisted to resemble a thick braid. Treccia can also be made from buffalo milk. Want to learn to braid your own treccia? Take a class at Old Taverna Sorrentina.
Cuoppo d’ Amalfi
If street food is what you fancy, you’ll want to find yourself a paper cone filled with local seafood. Cuoppo d’ Amalfi is a popular spot in the town of Amalfi. This is street food at its most authentic — a paper cone brimming with freshly fried local fish and squid that’ll only set you back a few euros.
This salad is as simple as it gets: tomatoes, fresh sliced mozzarella and sweet basil with a dash of salt and olive oil. You’ve seen it on menus around the world, but the island of Capri just off the Amalfi coast is where this simple starter got its start.
Spaghetti Alle Vongole
This translates to spaghetti with clams and is another staple you’ll find across Campania. The preparation is usually pretty simple and includes olive oil, crushed red peppers, parsley, garlic, and salt. The briny juices flavor this dish’s broth. The fresher the clams, the better the spaghetti, making Amalfi the perfect place to eat it.
Scialatielli ai Frutti di Mare
Scialatielli ai frutti di mare, also known as seafood scialatielli, is a dish you’ll see on many menus along the Amalfi coast. Scialatielli is a staple Campanian pasta. It’s thick, short, and looks kind of like a mini fettuccine. The dough for this pasta is made with milk instead of eggs, and the best scialatielli — like all Italian pasta — is made by hand. Local restaurateurs often top it with fish, shrimp, and squid.
Melanzane al Cioccolato
Eggplant may not sound like a dessert item, but along the Amalfi Coast it most definitely is. Melanzane al cioccolato combines peak-season eggplant with layers of chocolate and to create a delectable summer dessert that’s especially popular for Italian summer holidays. Melanzane al cioccolato is particularly popular in the town of Maori along the Amalfi Coast. Some recipes add liquor or ricotta.
Pesce all’Acqua Pazza
Pesce all’acqua pazza translates to "fish in crazy water," a name that owes to this dish’s origin as an impromptu dish local fishermen made with just-caught fish, olive oil, and tomatoes. "Crazy water" is usually a mix of white wine, cherry tomatoes, capers, and olives. A poached white fish generally serves as the base. This simple style of fish really began taking off in the 1960s on the island of Capri.
Delizie al Limone
Life has given this area lots of lemons, and it’s decided to make lots of treats with them. Among the most popular of them: delizie al limone, a staple in many area restaurants and pastry shops. Delizie al limone (a lemon delight) looks kind of like a perfect lemon dome. It’s a round sponge cake filled with lemon cream, brushed with limoncello and topped with lemony whipped cream. Pasticceria Andrea Pansa in Amalfi is a favorite amongst visitors.
Lemons aren’t just for lemonade and delizie al limone, they’re also the key ingredient in limoncello. And no Italian meal is complete without limoncello. The Amalfi Coast in known for its limoncello. Limoncello is distilled from the peels of Amalfi lemons, which because of their extremely thick peels are quite a bit larger than the average lemon. Combine with alcohol, sugar, water and time and you’ll get limoncello. Amalfi lemons grow between February and October. The process of turning Amalfi lemons into Amalfi limoncello can take several months.