Italy’s Amalfi Coast is world famous for its jaw-dropping resorts and spectacular “fresh from the sea” meets sweet citrus inspired cuisine. From the bustling streets of Naples to breezy Salerno you’ll find an abundance of briny seafood and fruits and vegetables ripened to perfection in the Mediterranean sun. Fish-phobic’s fear not, meat eaters and cheese lovers find happiness here thanks to protein-packed delicacies produced in the Lattari mountains. And while the picturesque towns that dot the coast are sure to leave you speechless, it’s that locally produced plump mozzarella, house-made limoncello and flaky sfogliatella that will have you patting your cheeks with glee!
Along the Amalfi Coast, locals never pass up an opportunity to eat. To dine alla campagna (Campania-style), plan your day around the following fuel-stops. Colazione (breakfast): often little more than a pre-work espresso with a cornetto (Italian croissant) or a sfogliatella (sweet ricotta-filled pastry). Pranzo (lunch): traditionally the main meal of the day, with many businesses closing for la pausa (afternoon break). Standard restaurant times are noon to 3pm, though locals don’t lunch before 2pm. Aperitivo: the popularity of post-work drinking sees numerous bars offer tasty morsels for the price of a drink between 5pm and 8pm. Cena (dinner): traditionally lighter than lunch, though still a main meal. Standard restaurant hours are 7.30pm to 11pm (later in summer). Most locals don’t dine before 8.30pm.
10 Tastes from Italy’s Amalfi Coast
If you’re looking for a pastry to compliment your morning espresso be sure to crunch through sfogliatella, a shell-shaped orange ricotta filled Italian pastry native to Campania. Sfogliatella means “small, thin leaf/layer”, as the pastry’s texture resembles stacked leaves. It was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in Conca dei Marini in the 17th century.
Midday Beer Binge
On a hot summers day you’ll likely find your sore feet need a break by the afternoon. There’s no better way to quench your thirst after an arduous coastal hike than by sipping through a few hoppy brews. I found two new favs by Bira Moretti, an Italian brewery originally founded in Udine in 1859. La Bianca offers a hazy slurp for those looking to find refreshment quickly while the double malted La Rossa is best enjoyed sipped slowly so the caramelized malt flavour lingers on your lips.
A Lush for Local Wine
Wine lovers looking to sample the regions best will quickly find themselves swooning for Fiano. This white Italian grape variety is grown primarily in Campania and has a long history here as it is believed to have been the grape behind the ancient Roman wine Apianum. Fiano is often characterized as a pale straw coloured wine with strong aromas of spice and floral notes.
Spaghetti al Peso di Limone
Lemons are as much a part of the landscape of the Amalfi Coast as the precipitous, cliff edge terraces on which they grow. These magnificent golden fruits (you’ll find some sold at the market the size of melons!) are used in a number of local recipes and in its simplest comfort food form arrives juiced over a plate of handmade pasta, tossed in cream and topped with parmigiano.
Limoncello is a lemon liqueur produced throughout Southern Italy. Traditionally, limoncello is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons which are steeped in rectified spirit until the oil is released. The resulting yellow liquid is then mixed with simple syrup. Varying the sugar-to-water ratio and the temperature affects the clarity, viscosity, and flavour. Best enjoyed after an epic feast before waddling back to bed.
Lemon Veal Scallopini
If you hadn’t yet caught on, Amalfi loves its lemons. There is perhaps no better way to enjoy the aromatic fruit then at a restaurant perched over a lush valley surrounded by lemon groves. After hiking up to Pontone (a small town overlooking Amalfi) I devoured a simple plate of veal scallopini prepared with lemon, flour, butter and parsley.
Italy’s infamous aperitif is light in alcohol at only 11% ABV, but has a rich and complex taste from the infusion of a blend of high-quality herbs, roots, sweet oranges and rhubarb. Most often enjoyed as a classic Apertol Spritz cocktail before the dinner hour featuring 1 oz Aperol, 2 oz Prosecco, splash of soda and a juicy orange slice.
The best pizza in Italy can be found in nearby Naples so it’s perhaps not a shock that the pretty pies served along the coast are some of the best in the country. Walk to the less touristy town of Minori (just east of Atrani) and plop yourself on the petite patio at La Botte. I stood directly across from the open concept pizza station, drooling as one very focussed pie master tossed around dough, slopped fresh tomato sauce, twirled chunks of plump mozzarella and adorned each pie with spicy sausage, fragrant olives and bright green rapini. Your perfectly crispy pie is best enjoyed with a cool pint of Peroni!
Visit Paestum, near Salerno and you’ve arrived to the home of Buffalo Mozzarella. Visitors have the opportunity to visit buffalo farms and dairies, most of which are conveniently situated along a stretch of the SS18, locally known as Mozzarella Road. Not only can you taste and buy the fresh product at its source, but you can also take a tour to see the entire production process from raw milk to delectable cheese. For many Italians fresh Mozzarella di Bufala is a most evocative food, associated with summer, coastal holidays and the classic Caprese salad!
One can not say they’ve wined and dined themselves along the Amalfi Coast until they’ve feasted on a fresh daily catch from the Mediterranean Sea. Italian food is most famous for not being fussy and in the summer the best way to enjoy oceans bounty is flamed over a barbecue with a quick toss of olive oil and spritz of lemon.