Travel

20,000 Leagues under the tasty sea of Vietri

In the smiling town famous worldwide for its ceramics, the cuisine centered on the sea range from timeless classics to fusion and gourmet contaminations.

By Annamaria Parlato, cover photo by Robert Cheaib

The cuisine of Vietri is essentially based on simplicity and the exaltation of the excellent raw material. Each village on the Amalfi Coast is famous for its traditional dishes. Often, different peculiarities are found a few kilometers away from one municipality to another and in every single hamlet. Vietri is affected by the customs, typically Salerno and Cetara, regarding preparing fish dishes in the kitchen. The gastronomic offer is completed by the renowned DOC wines of the area, bottled in the pleasant hamlet of Raito at 245 meters above sea level.

Ndunderi with smoked provola cherry tomatoes and mussels, courtesy of Antica Bagnara

The History – Antica Bagnara

In 1991, in an area that in the early Middle Ages was part of the possessions of the Badia di Cava de ‘Tirreni, some Roman baths, probably dating back to the 1st century BC, were unearthed. The structures are located along the banks of the Bonea stream, in Bagnara di Marina di Vietri, whose toponym already preserves the reference to the thermal baths. Of the baths, located close to the rocky wall, various rooms are preserved: one circular with niches and two access rooms, another with a rectangular plan, and a third whose floor was suspended on small pillars under which hot air circulated. The first room has two basins: a circular one in marble and one rectangular placed right under the rocky wall from which a spring gushed out. A faenzera, a typical factory for producing “riggiole” and majolica objects, was built in the 18th century on the thermal structure (not known as part of a Roman maritime villa or a public facility). The Antica Bagnara restaurant, owned by Cosmo di Mauro, UNPLI provincial councilor and former director of the Pro Loco of Vietri Sul Mare, stands right on these fascinating archaeological remains. A small museum area within the charming restaurant offers tasty traditional seafood and an individual pizza that combines the Neapolitan tradition with Salerno. Cosmo affirmed: “Navigating is for us Vietri a way of being, the sea is my reason for living and navigating in taste is my mission. As Jason and his Argonauts sailed around the world in search of the golden fleece, I do the same in my kitchen, always looking for excellent raw material to offer to my guests. We are famous for the Ndunderi, the typical Minorese pasta, the progenitors of modern gnocchi, seasoned with chickpeas and mussels or smoked provola, mussels, and cherry tomatoes. All that remains is to taste “.

Calamarata with beetroot pesto and  squid, courtesy of Dal Pescatore

The technique – Dal Pescatore

There was Francone, the nickname of Francesco Pisacane, an old fisherman from the Vietri Navy who founded the restaurant. For several years ago, chef Giuseppe Zaccaria and his wife Cristina took over the place, offering the loyal clientele a seafood cuisine made according to meticulous preparations and elaborate fish processing techniques. The fresh fish is bought directly from the local fishermen. Bream, pezzogne, rockfish, and amberjack are the main products on the chef’s menu, assisted by his son Benedetto and a young kitchen brigade.  Dal Pescatore restaurant is a sort of landmark for the seafood catering of the Amalfi Coast, a location that, over time, has acquired considerable respectability and credibility thanks to the professionalism of the chef who carries on his cooking philosophy focused on creativity and rigor. Expert olive oil connoisseur Giuseppe Zaccaria has built all his menus around this ingredient, winning coveted industry awards.

Cod in cassuola, courtesy of Locanda del Baccalà

Poor fish becomes chic – Locanda del Baccalà.

“I’m in love with Vietri. It was love at first sight – declared Antonio Peluso, owner of the Locanda del Baccalà – so much so that last year I moved here from Caserta, I even took home and inaugurated the fourth of my monothematic restaurants. Cod, the leading food of the Campania tradition, is a fish that can be interpreted in a thousand different ways, declined in a series of new and full-flavored recipes, all to be discovered “. A large outdoor terrace, tables spaced apart, the typical atmosphere of the seaside village, and the sea setting as a backdrop are the right conditions for enjoying lunches or dinners in total relaxation with family and friends. The Locanda was explicitly designed to be lived outside, especially in the summer months. In this delightful restaurant, it is possible to taste cod in various preparations and combinations. Cod carbonara, spaghetti with cod and Casavecchia, fried cod or casserole cod with capers, piennolo cherry tomatoes, olives, and Balik smoked cod carpaccio deserve to be tasted.

Genovese-style ziti with tuna, courtesy of Osteria Mediterranea Sesta Stazione

The territory – Osteria Mediterranea Sesta Stazione

The dishes cooked in this restaurant are respectful of the territory in which they are created. Matteo Cardamone, the owner of the Osteria and expert connoisseur of the raw material found in Vietri Sul Mare, is also a skilled producer of anchovy, bottarga, and salted anchovies colatura. Fresh and daily fish, vegetables, meats, pasta, dairy products are selected in full slow style and cooked according to ancient methods, typical of the Amalfi Coast. You can taste excellent tuna in artisan oil, spaghetti with sea urchins with Provolone del Monaco and pepper, authentic fish soup, and even moray eel with pizzaiola or fried curly escarole reinforcement salad. The magic word in this place, which was once a pottery factory, is: “Mattè, you do it!”.

The sushi, courtesy of Japit

Japanese contamination – Japit

Mario Cangiano, former patron of Japit in Benevento, his cousins Faggiano, Riccardo and Francesco, and the chef Fangwei Geng alias Jirō Ono, have joined in an Italian-Japanese team to give life to a second Japit but in Vietri sul Mare , in the suggestive Piazza Ferrigno. Japanese and Vietri influences come together in the sublime preparations of the chef who manages in a spectacular way to create unique and refined compositions, much loved by a clientele of young sushi-lovers. Sea bass carpaccio (suzuki) in ponzu and shiso sauce, hosomaki with wild king salmon or Balfego red tuna, fish tartare enriched by Amalfi scents sfusato, lobster rolls, shrimp sushi, nigiri with tuna, represent the right compromise between East and West. Riccardo Faggiano underlined: “What’s new at Japit? Apart from the best tuna, the sushi made to perfection, the scampi, the oysters, the anchovies, there are the yakisoba, the yoza ravioli with shrimp and vegetables, the wines of the Amalfi Coast, the amazing desserts, the news of the day, and a sea of other things”.

Spaghettone, sea lupins, lemon leaves, and caviar, courtesy of Giardini del Fuenti

The charm – Giardini del Fuenti

Elegant service, an incredible view of the sea, and an impeccable organization: these are the unique ingredients of the Giardini del Fuenti, a tremendous little pearl in the charming hamlet of Vietri Sul Mare, managed by Alessandra and Pierluigi De Flammineis, partners of the Third Generation Group. At the end of the 19th century, the Fuenti area was a green promontory, on which lemons, oranges, mandarins, olives, and grapes were grown. A suggestive glimpse of the Amalfi Coast, between Vietri Sul Mare and Cetara, where wine was produced, and animals were raised, a place already praised by the great English writers in the Grand Tour. The Fuenti Gardens are a space in which the territory expresses itself. In whose culture, folklore, tourism, promotion of typical local resources interact in a tourist structure intended for a selected and exclusive clientele. The Riva del Fuenti restaurant inside the hotel is led by chef Michele De Blasio. Originally from Sarno, he began his career with Riccardo Camanini and Alfonso Iaccarino and specialized alongside the Pourcel brothers, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Arzak, Rasmus Kofoed. After his experience at the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong, he landed at the Fuenti Gardens. Michele De Blasio’s cuisine is characterized by constant experimentation, by the obsessive care of combinations to give the right balance to each dish through the refined minimalism that distinguishes it.

Cicatelli with sea cicadas soup, clams, and glasswort, courtesy of Re Maurì

Refined gourmet – Re Maurì

The Re Maurì is the 1st Michelin restaurant of Lloyd’s Baia, halfway between Vietri Sul Mare and Salerno, designed to delight the palate of those who love haute cuisine and the authenticity of traditional dishes revisited with flair and imagination. Elegant settings, a panoramic terrace, and airy spaces invite you to discover the restaurant at different times of the day. At lunch, dinner, or during an aperitif, Re Maurì always surprises customers with tasting menus and à la carte dishes created by chef Lorenzo Cuomo, who boasts a long collaboration with starred chef Oliver Glowing. This is the judgment that can be read in the 2021 Michelin Guide: “In the Lloyd’s Baia Hotel, on the border between Salerno and Vietri, where the coast rises above the port, the restaurant offers a remarkable view of the gulf from the interior room through the two glass walls, but even more so when, in good weather, you move to the terrace. From the kitchen come Campania’s proposals and international dishes and products not necessarily linked to the region. Leave a space for dessert: the cook often worked as a pastry chef before arriving here, and the care he takes for desserts is remarkable”. Land and coastal ingredients mix with each other. Many preparations are open to vegetarians, and seafood dishes are firmly anchored to the territory but revisited in a gourmet key, beautiful to look at and above all good to eat.

Informazioni utili

Antica Bagnara, Via Giuseppe Pellegrino 144, Vietri sul Mare (SA) www.anticabgnara.it

Dal Pescatore, Via Cristoforo Colombo 50, Vietri sul Mare (SA), www.dalpescatorevietrism.com

Locanda del Baccalà, Via Giuseppe Pellegrino 148, Vietri sul Mare (SA), www.locandadelbaccala.it

Osteria Mediterranea Sesta Stazione, Piazza Ferrigno 23, Vietri sul Mare (SA) www.osteria-mediterranea-sesta-stazione.jimdosite.com

Japit, Via Giuseppe Mazzini 105, Vietri sul Mare (SA) www.phmenu.it/japit_vietrisulmare/

Giardini del Fuenti, S.S. 163 Amalfitana km 47+300, Vietri sul Mare (SA) www.giardinidelfuenti.com

Re Maurì, Via Benedetto Croce (strada verso Vietri – SA), www.remauri.it

 

 

 

 

 

 

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