A city is doing something seriously right when it wins more prestigious James Beard awards per head of the population than anywhere else in the US. Step forward, New Orleans.
Review date: October 21
Given the stunning vistas and position of Positano, you could probably get away with opening a branch of Greggs and find their sausage and bean melt would rank high in the pantheon of great culinary experiences. (I love their cheese and bacon wrap but the melt is truly grim.)
Positano is utterly, comically perfect and even romantic when sadly lunching solo on a day where the sun comes and goes at will. I chose Chez Black at random from a number of good options, not least because it proudly advertises that it’s been around since 1949. Longevity is generally a good sign and anywhere which is good enough for the king of the arched eyebrow, Roger Moore, is good enough for me.
The somewhat cheesy nautical decor is forgiven with a front row seat facing the promenade and looking up to the vertiginous cliffs and houses clinging to them. I lunch alongside people far more beautiful, not to mention stratospherically cooler, than this son of Essex could ever dream.
I figure that going local here is the best strategy and I’m rewarded for my regional devotion. A simple salade caprese (ie from the island of Capri – something I never twigged until reading their menu) is a revelation, not least because I’d forgotten how tomatoes – real tomatoes – are an explosion of umami. From Sorrento, 8km away, they are the bed to two substantial slabs of mozzarella. Some torn basil, great Amalfi olive oil, balsamico and salt are all they need to join the beautiful bread. A lesson quickly learnt is that the best way to eat them is to let chunks of bread act as sponges for the joyous cocktail that forms underneath.
Next up some ravioli with ricotta under more of those local tomatoes, this time rendered down into a sweet and occasionally sour elixir to triumph and embarrass a thousand tomato sauces I had tried to make at home. Simple and brilliant and simply brilliant.
Two glasses of Barolo help proceedings flow even more smoothly and also act as a catalyst for an otherwise unexpected dessert. The trolley is wheeled over and when I ask the waiter what he would order, he simply says ‘delizie al limone, naturalmente’ – ‘the lemon cream, of course’. Duh. He’s not wrong, light sponge soaked in Amalfi coast limoncello under about half a cow of whipped cream.
I always mark a restaurant on ‘experience’ encompassing atmosphere, service and value for money. 47 euros for 3 courses and two Barolo, not to mention the setting, seems an absolute steal.
As a late lunch regrettably morphs quickly into late afternoon, I wend my way back up the narrow winding pathways and back to the road for one of the world’s great coastal drives. It’s a perfect end to a perfect afternoon. NB I arranged my transport through Luca at http://www.toursamalficoast.com and would highly recommend their services. Great people.
Chez Black, Via del Brigantino, 19,+39 089 875 036