Positano is an iconic destination with incredible history, both actual and mystical. The legend of sirens luring sailors to wreck their ships on the rocky coast is part of the fascinating lore. This charming coastal town is also known for its dreamy cliffside hotels and delicious restaurants with jaw-dropping views of the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. The slow pace of the village embodies the Italian ideal of “la dolce vita.” Winding alleys shaded by trellised wisteria vines have glamorous shops tucked into the crannies. Local vendors set up stalls among these alleys perfect for that one-of-a-kind souvenir. The 18th-century church, Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta’s majolica-tiled dome, can be seen from every vantage point and adds exquisite beauty to the famed locale. Restaurants are weaved into the cliffs or at the water’s edge. Dine at any establishment here, and you’ll taste the freshest seafood plucked daily from the aquamarine-colored waters by fishermen with generations of experience behind them.
Positano is the first hamlet along the Strada Statale 163, south of Naples along the Amalfi Coast — listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The picturesque 37-mile road, best known for twisty turns, links other fabulous cities — Praiano, Amalfi, and Ravello like a strand of luminous pearls. When you make the first stop in Positano, try these five incredible restaurants (in no specific order) for memorable meals in one of the most intoxicating places on Earth.
1. Chez Black Restaurant
Chez Black is a third-generation restaurant launched in 1949 by Salvatore Russo, also known as “Black.” His boat-themed restaurant, permanently docked on the promenade of the Spiaggia Grande (the main beach), is steps from the pebbled shoreline. The restaurant was initially — a boathouse beautifully renovated to resemble a ship and has glossy wood trim and brass fixtures. The waiters, suited in navy uniforms, are at your service to assist you with the menu or wine choices to pair with the fresh seafood.
What To Order
The famous dish to order at Chez Black is sea urchin or “Ricci di Mare” either in its shell or mixed in a pasta dish or paccheri with Positanese sauce. Paccheri is a large tubular pasta or a bigger version of rigatoni. Here it’s served in a fresh tomato sauce spiked with garlic. I can’t resist seafood and chose the scampi grilled in a garlic butter sauce. Scampi is closer to the lobster family than the shrimp family. When my dish arrived, there were six lovely, fresh, scampi on the platter served with wedges of Positano’s famous lemons. You eat them much like a tiny lobster tail, and the sweet taste of the meat pairs so beautifully with the butter sauce; it’s addictive. If you don’t love fish, try the chicken Milanese, a fried chicken cutlet topped with crisp, peppery arugula, and those vibrant, red tomatoes grown in volcanic soil.
Pro Tip: The list of famous people who’ve eaten here is a mile long; make a reservation ahead of time to get a prime beachfront table.
2. Le Tre Sorelle
Le Tre Sorelle has been a family business since 1953. Three sisters opened a tavern serving typical Positano fare just a few feet from the Tyrrhenian sea. Over the years, one sister remained and became the sole operator. Thankfully her family picked up the pieces and rebuilt the establishment after an unfortunate fire destroyed the restaurant. Today you will find fresh local ingredients from Campania and fish caught in the sea outside their door. The addition of nephew Luigi, a sommelier, ensures the incredible wines from around the country and abroad are poured to pair with their rustic dishes.
What To Order
This local establishment’s food is well prepared, fresh, and offers generous portions. Start with a typical seasonal appetizer of zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta, battered and fried. Then order seafood. Choose the day’s fish filleted and sauteed with olive oil, lemon, capers, and black olives or prepared with cherry tomato, potato, capers, and olives baked in the oven. Sea Bream is caught locally and is a specialty here. We also tried the paccheri with zucchini (in season) with pecorino cheese, which was incredible.
Pro Tip: In the city center of Positano, try the Tre Sorelle Wine Room for an Aperitivo (a pre-dinner snack). The wine selections are excellent, served by the glass alongside typical snacks. A great stop during your stay.
3. La Pergola Restaurant
La Pergola Restaurant is directly on the beach, adjacent to the steps leading up to the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta. This perfect location begs for a romantic dinner or casual seaside meal as you watch the sunset over the water. The wood-burning pizza oven churns out tasty pies in the pizzeria. You could also enjoy those gorgeous sunset views while dining on the freshest seafood and steaks in their main dining room.
What To Order
You can’t go wrong with any seafood entrees here, and the pasta, especially the gnocchi, is to die for. However, one walk past the wood-burning oven, and we pined for pizza. There is something about a Neapolitan-style pizza Margherita, fresh from the oven, with a great glass of Montepulciano wine and a stunning sunset to savor “la dolce vita.”
Pro Tip: Try the special local dessert known as Delizia al Limone after dinner. This mini sponge cake is coated and filled with Positano lemon custard, and it is heaven.
4. Adamo & Eva Restaurant
Adamo & Eva Restaurant is on a cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea at the Eden Roc Hotel. You enter the lobby, take the elevator to the top, and perch on the terrace for a fabulous meal. The waitstaff is incredibly attentive. The first step after ordering drinks is to entice your appetite by showcasing the daily catch on a platter. You stare in awe as the most beautiful crustaceans are displayed for your choosing. The meal unfolds slowly so you can savor the cocktails, the view, and the gorgeous food inspired by the surroundings.
What To Order
We chose the citrus-scented lobster salad with celery, tomatoes, olives, onions, and avocado. The presentation was stunning, and the mound of lobster was so fresh we enjoyed every bite. Next, we enjoyed a risotto dish with zucchini, lemon, and coconut milk that was so creamy, comforting, fresh, and vibrant. We paired that with glasses of chilled rosé and thought it was one of the best meals of the trip. Honestly, it doesn’t get any better.
5. Restaurant Al Palazzo
You won’t see the water at Restaurant Al Palazzo, but you will be surrounded by incredible views. The restaurant offers breathtaking, lush gardens in the backyard of the Hotel Palazzo Murat. This is a unique and serene place to take in a different setting in this seaside paradise. Alfonso Cinque, an engineer emigrated from Positano to America. He returned to buy and restore the Palazzo, and upon his death, his family made it their home and a hotel for guests who flocked there after World War II. The ambiance feels like you are sitting on the grounds of a friend’s grand estate out in the country. Yet, it’s tucked into the winding alleys of Positano.
What To Order
We stopped by for lunch on a hot sunny afternoon and found the shaded garden to be a respite from the blazing summer sun. My husband and I were excited to dine in this oasis right down the main path leading to the Spiaggia Grande. Chef Aniello Cascone is a master, cooking his way throughout Campania — Capri, Sorrento, and Naples.
Since it was warm, we opted for lighter dishes; I ordered a Caesar salad topped with salmon and the most delightful buttery croutons. My husband ordered spaghetti topped with organic heirloom tomatoes grown on the property. We enjoyed a glass of Ereo Rosé from Cantine Olivella, and the wine paired perfectly with our meal. The blend of grapes is harvested from the base of Mount Vesuvius, and the flavor tastes like strawberries and vanilla. A fabulous experience.
Sea views are steps away from the restaurant by the pool, so take a walk around the grounds after lunch.
La Sponda restaurant is inside the famous hotel, Le Sirenuse. The views, the food, and the romance are unmistakable here. If you aren’t staying in the hotel, getting a reservation is tough. Still, with careful planning, you too can enjoy all the luxury, and refined dining Le Sponda is known for.
While Lo Scoglio is not in Positano, I must mention it here for the food and the views. The restaurant and hotel featured on Stanley Tucci’s show Searching For Italy season one is an excellent stop if you have the time. The famous dish, Pasta alla Nerano (pasta with zucchini), is served as well as fresh seafood dishes served in the restaurant on a private beach in Marina del Cantone, about an hour’s drive from Positano. If you have a car, you should make the drive. We truly enjoyed our meal here, served just before sunset along the fabled Amalfi Coast.
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