Local Taste

6 young chefs who are innovating the Amalfi Coast culinary tradition

Creativity, courage, and attachment to one’s land are the new local cuisine’s main ingredients.

By Francesca Faratro, photo by Agostino Criscuolo

Six chefs under 40 belonging to the Amalfi Coast narrate the tradition through their dishes. They tell it at the command of their brigades, arranging the colors of the sea that alternate with the sinuosity of the mountain, accompanying the guest on a journey capable of challenging all five senses. They present ideas that start from simple ingredients, then revolutionized by their professionalism without compromising authentic flavors.


Giusy Coppola – Al Cancelletto, Amalfi

The beautiful and young Amalfi-based chef Giusy Coppola is in love with the local cuisine and territory. In her restaurant, she brings into vogue the teachings learned over time from her grandmothers, and the recipes are written on an old folder. After graduating and undertaking university studies, she decides to make her dream come true by earning a master’s degree and attending several cooking courses. Her first experience comes in the home restaurant: a domestic restaurant set up in the family home that welcomed several guests to enjoy a full meal. The experience that lasted more than a year led the chef to open her restaurant, Al Cancelletto. Here she refines techniques and knowledge, expanding them according to the requests of an audience from all over the world. «Tradition and innovation never oppose each other but represent the face of the same coin,” tells us Giusy Coppola ” The tradition of yesterday is the innovation of today that which itself will become tradition tomorrow. Tradition is a memory. It is a priority and the foundation of my cuisine. Everything I prepare reflects my grandmothers, both my teachers and what I make in my restaurant is thanks to them. Those same recipes, handed down over the years, undergo the passage of time and the change of habits but take on different guises and my personalization. I eliminate excesses and too many condiments, adapting only the ingredients while the final flavor does not, that remains unmistakable! ”

Giovanni Vanacore – Rossellinis di Palazzo Avino, Ravello

A truly Neapolitan, he grew up among sauces and stoves. After numerous starred Italian kitchens, he landed at Rossellini’s, Palazzo Avino’s restaurant in Ravello. Born in 1985, in love with the sea from which he continually lets himself be inspired, he offers a young cuisine, strongly linked to Neapolitan traditions and a Naples queen of gastronomy. “For me, tradition is history. It is the scent of my home when as soon as I woke up, it was the Sunday ragù prepared by my mother that intoxicated me. Even today, when I prepare it, I relive the same emotions, the ones I try to convey to the guests who take their seats at my table in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I want them to experience and enjoy those sensations, the same ones that have accompanied me along this professional path. Tradition is a journey, taken for a walk through a territory pervaded by the best products that nature offers, whether they come from the sea or the land, it doesn’t matter. Fundamental is their safeguarding and revisiting them with skill and sensitivity,” says Giovanni Vanacore. “The recipes should be made with the soul. In this way, each bite can become a tender caress capable of letting oneself be abandoned and going back in time. ”

Alessandro Tormolino – Sensi, Amalfi

He is thirty-three years old, and his professional career began at school. Alessandro Tormolino was born in Torre del Greco and from there begins an intense journey between Italian and European cuisines alongside the best chefs in the world. Driven by a deep passion for cooking that he took from his father, he dreams of exploring the world through new tastes, deepening other states’ cultures and habits. His idea of cooking finds space in his Sensi restaurant in Amalfi, managed with two other partners. In a beautiful restaurant overlooking the maritime city, he pursues an idea of traditional cuisine but which is renewed thanks to the use of new ingredients that, when combined, create real magic. “For me, tradition is expressed through cooking seen with eyes turned towards innovation, towards the continuous search for flavors, aromas, spices, and fragrances. – Alessandro Tormolino explains – All these components enrich my idea, letting me create a combination of tradition and innovation. I cook starting from recipes that bind me to a memory, to a moment of celebration that is experienced in homes, in our families. I also want my team to be aware that without their roots, you can’t go anywhere. It is like a castle without a foundation. To remind them of all this, every Sunday, my brigade prepares for us a menu that recalls the origins of each component so that we never forget them ».

Cristian and Alfonso Pappalardo – Casa Mandina, Maiori

Cristian and Alfonso Pappalardo are two brothers from Maiori, not yet thirty years old. Both with a brilliant experience behind them in several Italian and European kitchens, they felt the need to go back home after having learned the basics. They decide to open their own Casa Mandina restaurant in their country of origin, where the two brothers can put into practice the lessons learned over time and increase their passion. With a refined proposal based on the freshest ingredients, used with knowledge and technique, both serve a local cuisine where the final flavor is the protagonist of each dish. «From an early age, we imagined ourselves managing our restaurant together: that’s where we started living the Tradition of Campania cuisine. – Cristian and Alfonso Pappalardo say – Our commitment is to revisit some preparations in a modern key, trying to make the dishes more enjoyable, making it through love and passion. With a strong attachment to the territory, we try to reproduce the tastes we tasted in the Sunday lunches at the table with our grandparents. We propose them again by finding the secrets suitable for innovating that same tradition without ever distorting or violating the original flavor. ”


Lorenzo Montoro – Il Faluto di Pan Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

Born in Sarno, close to Avellino, Lorenzo Montoro, 40, is known for his successful career around the Amalfi Coast. In love with nature’s products,  with a strong attachment to the territory promotes every day a cuisine with a strong territorial influence, made of simple, peasant ingredients and proposed in full respect of the raw material. Passionate about herbs, wanting to pass on the family passion, he brings innovation to the table that re-evaluates tradition and presents itself with taste but in an elegant, chic dress capable of putting the dish’s authentic flavor in the spotlight. «To make good local cuisine, tradition is essential. – explains Lorenzo Montoro – To make a tradition, however, it is not enough to replicate ancient recipes. It is necessary to know the raw material, the products that have made their history, their seasonality, or the particular fishing technique for a specific variety of fish. We must first know the territory well and follow the rules that nature imposes on us to be then able to create dishes that are traditional but are also presented at a suitable time. Am I, therefore, forced to choose one ingredient rather than another? Yes, but that’s the beauty too. Propose at the right time, at the best time, and using authentic elements! ”




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A lemon twist in a spritz

In 1997, Andrea Rispoli served this aperitif inspired by the Amalfi Coast hot summer days. From an act of serendipity, a lucky and casual find.