Where to Eat in Sorrento, Naples, Capri, Positano and the Amalfi Coast, Italy
(Updated May 2019)
Italy holds an unwavering place high up on many travelers bucket lists, and with good reason. Probably the number one reason you'll hear from everyone who's been there is "the food". Oh my, the food! But surprisingly, there's really no such thing as traditional Italian food. In Italy, distinct regional specialties define what's typically Italian. And while I do love the food in Bologna and Emilia Romagna — considered, even among many Italians, to be some of the best food in Italy — my heart (and stomach) literally belongs in my ancestral home of southern Italy. Here are some of the best restaurants and my favorite places to eat from Sorrento and Naples to Amalfi and including the island of Capri. I especially love the food in Sorrento, Italy — definitely worth a longer stay when you’re there.
Planning to visit southern Italy anytime soon? Don't miss these restaurants in Sorrento, Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy.
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Where to Eat in Sorrento, Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast
This is a very short list and you'll see some of these places on forums again and again. Some, however, I didn't discover until I arrived. They are worth a visit, so start jotting down your dining list! But first: What make these places so special?
At all of these restaurants, I didn't just enjoy good food, I had a dining experience which involved a combination of the following:
Great food - freshly prepared ingredients, accompanying condiments, and a beautiful presentation
Pleasant Interaction with Waitstaff and Chefs - all of these places were genuinely interested in engaging with you (but didn't go too far), explained history of the dish, restaurant, or chef, and appeared to enjoy the service. Some of them sang Italian songs, or invited us in near the kitchen, but it was never too much or intrusive.
Excellent Service - there's 'pleasant interaction' and then there's excellent service. Knowing your menus, product, and preparation, and then delivering it in a timely fashion is just as important as the meal itself. The service in all the places listed here was Very Good to I Couldn't Have Asked for Anything More.
Time to Linger - If Italians do one thing well, it's linger. They savor the moment they're in. They take hours to eat, smoke a cigarette, talk, laugh, drink some limoncello, then start another course - it almost makes me want to take up smoking! But the waitstaff at these restaurants did not push us to hurry so they could turn the table (Americans take note)! Even at the bustling Pizzeria da Michele where the line to get in the small pizzeria is out the door, we felt free to relax and enjoy the entire experience.
Best Restaurants in Sorrento, Naples, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast
Best Restaurants in Sorrento
I especially love Sorrento food, and found so many good restaurants here, from takeaway street food and sweet gelato to elegant dining experiences at Michelin star restaurants:
Don Alfonso 1890 - Located in the hills above Sorrento in Sant’Agata, this Michelin 2 star restaurant is a special place, backed with generations of tradition, fresh ingredients produced at their organic farm, and a firm commitment to creating excellent and innovative cuisine. It’s a fancy place, so dress nice, and if they offer to show you the wine cellar, go!
Inn Bufalito - This casual eatery is very good. TRY: Buffalo any way! I had the Stewed Buffalo and Potatoes, and the Buffalo leg shank. I also loved their Spaghetti Pomodorini.
Basilica - A lovely and comfortable restaurant off the main square in Sorrento, Basilica has amazing pastas and insalata, but it was the Fried, Stuffed Squash Blossoms that got my attention. This was one of the few places to serve them, a traditional Italian dish I didn't see often enough in Italy. And they were to die for! MUST TRY: the Squash Blossoms.
Lo Stuzzichino - This authentic restaurant in Sant’Agata up the hill from Sorrento has an impressive wine cellar and the food is about as good as it gets. TRY: the fresh pasta with seafood and the homemade Pizza de Crema, or Grandma’s cake for dessert.
Pizzeria di Gigano - I'll never forget the day we found this place. We'd spent the entire day (with two crowded train rides) exploring Pompeii, and we beyond exhausted when we got back to Sorrento. We were so tired but not thinking clearly, and were so hungry but had no idea where we were going. Gigano was like a beacon in the dark, and after our meal you might even say it was divinely inspired.
The service, the food, and the jovial atmosphere - everything was wonderful. Tucked down a side street in Sorrento, this pizzeria serves delicious pasta, pizza, and contorni.
Basilico Pizzeria - Not to be confused with Basilica, this pizzeria just north of the Main Piazza in town is housed in a former movie theatre, and seriously has the best pizza in town! That was the recommendation given to us by taxi drivers, guides, and shop owners, all pointing to the same direction. Their suggestion didn’t disappoint, it was divine!
Gelateria Primavera - Over 80 flavors of gelato! (I loved the walnut, or noci). Longtime fans of The Bold & The Beautiful will remember this place from when they filmed in Positano back in the 80's and the photos on the wall will bring back your favorite tumultuous memories of Ridge and Brooke :-)
Looking for Where to Stay in Sorrento?
We loved our stays at these two lovely places in Sorrento:
Hotel Antiche Mura is just a block to the center of everything in town, and two blocks from Marina Piccola (it’s also right next to some pretty cool sunken Roman ruins). Their breakfast room is in a lovely lemon grove and filled with delicious local specialties. Rooms are spacious and very comfortable. Check rates and availability.
1878 Sorrento Guest House is a charming neighborhood stay in the heart of historic Sorrento. Rooms are bright and spacious with a very local feel and some have beautiful outdoor terraces for afternoon wine and cheese or morning breakfast. Check rates and more details.
Best Restaurants in Naples, Italy
If you're thinking about skipping this port city on your Amalfi Coast vacation, don't. Go to Naples! Sure it's a "grittier" city as some have described, but Naples offers an authentic glimpse into real Neapolitan life. Although I almost hated it at first, it was for a completely different reason. My advice? Don't shy away from one of the most interesting cities you're likely to find anywhere.
Bar Caffe Gambrinus - Just off the famous Piazza del Plebiscito, the historic Caffe Gambrinus had the best coffee drinks of our trip! Every one was insanely delicious, and truly a work of art, as were the tempting goodies and savory bites that accompanied the drinks, coffee or otherwise. Great european atmosphere inside and out!
Looking for Where to Stay in Naples?
B&B Orsini 46 is a charming and historic 10th century B&B in a great location near Santa Lucia and the Piazza del Plebiscito. Rooms are really spacious and affordable, and some look right out over Mt. Vesuvius for a great view. Check rates and availability.
If you’re looking for luxury, the waterfront Hotel Grand Vesuvio is so lovely. It’s pricey (we splurged for our anniversary) but the service is amazing including help with tours, restaurants, and itineraries. The location is ideal to explore the historic part of Naples, and there are great restaurants all around. Check rates and more details.
Best Restaurant in Nerano, Massa Lubrense
Ristorante Lo Scoglio - Located on the south side of the Sorrentine peninsula, Ristorante Lo Scoglio is a short drive from Sorrento but worth getting there. If you’re staying in Termini, Torca, or another small town in Massa Lubrense, it’s a short drive or day hike to Nerano. Lo Scoglio Nerano is on the sea, so the seafood here can’t get much fresher. Go for lunch or dinner, but just go! TRY: The fresh catch of the day served with potatoes and capers, and filleted table side.
Best Restaurants in Capri
A hallmark of Capri food is the fine selection of fresh seafood. Trying some of these unique island specialties is one of the fun things to do in Capri…it just doesn't get much better!
Ristorante Michel'angelo - One of the best restaurants on Capri, Ristorante Michel-Angelo serves traditional Caprese cuisine including fresh pastas made daily. This authentic restaurant will soon become a favorite of yours too. TRY: the Grilled smoked mozzarella served with pizza foccacia, and a fresh pasta of the day.
Da Giorgio - TRY: Fried peppers with fresh basil, Pizza Napoli with anchovy, Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes.
Da Paulino - A local favorite, Da Paulino is an open-air restaurant tucked away in a residential part of the island. Ask for a seat outside under the lemon tree grove. TRY: Fresh bufala mozzarella grilled between lemon leaves; Primi - Risotto al limone with baby prawns and arugula; Secondi - grilled seafood and veal cutlet with cherry tomato and arugula salad.
Buca di Bacco - TRY: Primi - Scaliatelli pasta with clams, shrimp, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes; Secondi - whole fresh fish with cherry tomatoes; Dessert - Baba Rhum
Salumeria da Aldo - This salumeria is right on the water at the port of Marina Grande (with a bright yellow awning). They'll make you the best Caprese sandwich you’ll ever have — fresh bufala mozzarella, marinated tomatoes, and basil on a freshly baked ciabatta roll — what the locals eat. Or they'll make whatever meat and cheese combo you want. Perfect anytime, but especially for a picnic lunch trip to the Blue Grotto or a day on the water.
Looking for Where to Stay in Capri?
Hotel La Minerva - We loved everything about our stay at Hotel La Minerva. It has a fresh Capri feel (imagine lots of blue and white furnishings, and black and white pics of 1960's movie stars hanging out on Capri). The location is quiet and ideal near Via Tragara, the Gardens of Augustus overlooking Marina Piccola, and just a short stroll from La Piazzetta. Check rates and availability.
Hotel Syrene - The hotels around La Minerva on the quieter side of the island are a bit pricier, but if you want to stay in this neighborhood, there are several like the Hotel Syrene for around $250 per night which are a very good value. (You’ll find lower rates the closer you get to Marina Grande.) Check rates and more details.
Best Restaurants in Positano and Ravello
La Tagliata - This restaurant is set HIGH up at the top of the cliff above Positano but we promise you it’s worth the drive. Take a taxi and get there earlier than your reservation so you can sit and linger over that view! TRY: Their Tasting Menu. It’s all good and delicious!
Donna Rosa - This amazing restaurant lies high up in the hills of Positano, so grab a taxi. The food is traditional and delicious, the open kitchen prep is entertaining, and their wine list is well-rounded in selection and price. They also have a seasonal cooking school I've heard good things about, though I had just missed it with the timing of our trip. TRY: Primi - Ravioli ala Donna Rosa and Bucatini al Amatriciana; Secondi - Bresaola (Braciole).
Bar Buca di Bacco (on the Positano beach) - Great place for lunch or dinner, and some of the best people watching on the water. TRY: The Pasta Fagiole and Insalata.
Ravello Sandwich Shop - Down a quaint side street in Ravello is a salumeria where Anna Maria is the Queen of Sandwiches, and she really is! I forget the name of her store (its just off the main Piazza) but ask around for Anna Maria, and look for the sign taped to the counter. They are super delicious - and one of them makes a perfect afternoon picnic while you stroll around Villa Cimbrone on an afternoon in Ravello.
Looking for Where to Stay in Positano and Ravello?
We loved the Hotel Marincanto, in Positano, with a perfect location to explore the town or catch a bus to Amalfi. The hotel overlooks the beach and sits high enough to enjoy the views (but not way high up where you have to catch a taxi). The view from the outdoor terrace is that famous view of Positano you always see (check out one of the many evening shots I took just outside our room). The rooms are beachy and elegant, and the breakfast buffet is amazing. It also sits just above the famous Church of Santa Maria Assunta for stunning pics. Check rates and availability.
In Ravello, the Hotel Giordano is a lovely hotel overlooking the valley up from Amalfi with a beautiful pool. It’s a perfect place for a family or multi-generational vacation as they have rooms that can accommodate that. Plus it’s just a 3-minute walk to the center of town and Villa Cimbrone, one of the coolest places to explore in Ravello. Check rates and more details.
So Many Places, So Little Time!
The thing with Italy is this: there is so much good food, and Italian chefs who cook with love. There are so many places I will head right for on my next visit. I can only dream until then....