I’ve been to two regions in Italy thus far, Rome and the Sorrento Riviera area. I want to take you off the beaten track and into some little food finds I’ve found along the way in the hope that they may make your holiday in Italy as special as they made mine.
Jewish Bakery – Rome
Pasticceria “Boccione” Limentani is a traditional bakery we came upon as we wandered the streets of Rome. It’s located in the Old Jewish Quarter but it may be tricky to see as there’s no sign at the front of it so we were guided by the smell of freshly baked delights and the crowds of happy customers spilling out of the tiny establishment clutching their treasures. Ours was a double-crusted Ricotta pie overstuffed with cherries. At the time, I couldn’t imagine a tastier pastry and I still can’t.
Best pizza we’ve ever tasted – S’ant Agata (near Sorrento)
We tried several pizzas both in Sorrento and in Italian restaurants back home in England before Ristorante da Mimi was recommended to us by newly found friends at our hotel. Not only was it located in S’ant Agata, a pretty little town at the top of a hill above Sorrento, but tucked away down a cobbled side street. I suppose though that hiddenness is the nature of treasure and this certainly was worth all the effort to find. It was also popular with the locals which is often a good sign if you’re looking for an authentic, non-touristic experience. Well, that’s exactly what we got. I ordered my favourite type of pizza – salami and it was cooked to perfection in their own pizza oven. At the beginning it was huge, by the end I was stuffed but knew that’s how pizzas are supposed to be. Stone baked, not stuff crust, flavoursome, not artificial.
Great coffee with a view – Sorrento
There’s only one thing better than great coffee and that’s great coffee with a view. This is what we experienced at Restaurant Ville Comunale with its vistas of the Amalfi Coast. Just behind the restaurant was the beautiful historic church of San Francesco which is very popular with international and local couples as a place to tie the knot. We had front row seats on the patio to view the newlyweds as they got their picture taken backdropped by the sea. This restful and relaxing café was shaded enough so you didn’t cook but sunny enough to feel you were getting the best of the weather.
Winning bruschetta – S’ant Agata
I haven’t tasted all the bruschetta Italy has to offer so I can in no way tell you that our experience of it at S’ant Agata’s Bar Orlando, aka the Smoking Cat Café, was the crème de la crème but it was certainly my personal favourite. I’m not sure what it was. It could have been the type of tomatoes, the generously sliced and portioned soft white bread with it’s perfectly crisp edges or simply the fact that it was often complimentary with drinks from an owner who was a true local character with a magnificent sense of humour and a love of his café and customers. He was Orlando, the grandson of the man who founded the bar in 1907. Despite the place being nicknamed the smoking cat cafe, there were no cats around taking a puff of nicotine when we were there. The legendary nickname relates to a 1945 cat called Jolly who appeared to smoke cigarettes. However, this was all for show as his owner was a true animal lover and so Jolly didn’t inhale – phew!