The Amalfi Coast is a premier destination for those who love and appreciate gorgeous sights, relaxing sea breezes and luscious flavors that dance on the palate.
From the azure blue sea that lazily laps the shore to the rugged cliffs sprinkled with colorful pastel villages, the coastal roads dotted with stunning villas, lush lemon groves and terraced vineyards.
While the sights are stunning, the salt-kissed air soothing, and the vibe so warm and friendly you immediately feel at home, you must taste the foods of Amalfi to make your experience complete. Everywhere you go in Italy there are so many regional flavors and this area is no exception. Here I’ve put together some of the must-try foods on the Amalfi Coast.
Why Food Just Tastes Better On the Amalfi Coast
Italians rely on the freshest of ingredients in every dish they make. Whether cooking for family, Hollywood’s elite or royalty the ingredients must be very fresh and very local. In the Amalfi region, where the Mediterranean climate prevails, there is an abundance of seafood, fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and cheeses equally as delightful. The clean flavors of Amalfi come together in a way that is, well, heavenly.
Tastes of the Sea
Alici di Cetara: The tiny town of Cetara, nestled along the famous coastline, is known for its Anchovies. Generations of fishermen in the village have passed along secrets of their trade to sons, grandsons and beyond. Likewise, these families passed along their traditional ways to prepare this treat from the sea. Typically these delicious little fish are offered as a starter to the meal. There are as many ways to prepare Alici de Cetara as there are family recipes but the most popular remain either fired or marinated. There is also a fish sauce made by fermenting the anchovies in brine. It’s a very popular condiment throughout the Amalfi Coast.
Spaghetti Alle Vongole: In all probability you’ve enjoyed spaghetti in clam sauce from your favorite American Italian restaurant. This is not that! Although spaghetti and clams is served throughout Italy there is no better place to enjoy this dish than the Amalfi Coast. The clams are so very fresh and the flavors are so bright and delicious. I definitely had to include this dish among my favorites in the region.
Scialatielli con Gamberi e Zucchine: This Amalfi classic is a relative newcomer to the food scene a mere 44 years ago. The sumptuous combination takes fresh pasta, slightly wider than linguine and about 1/4 the length, and tosses it with zucchini and shrimp that has been sautéed and combined in a rich seafood stock. In the springtime, when the zucchini are just forming, the baby zukes are used for their delicate flavor. It’s likely many household cooks brought a version of this dish to their table prior to 1978, but Chef Enrico Consentino lays claim to this recipe. Some versions also include mussels, clams and prawns. The word scialare translates to “enjoy” and tiella means “pan” in the regional Neapolitan dialect. One would take this to mean it is so good you want to eat it right out of the pan!
Fruit the Color of The Sun
If there is a symbol of the Amalfi Coast it would be the lemon. Bright, sunny, cheery and oh-so-natural this region and the tart citrus fruit are quite simpatico. Like Provence’s ubiquitous lavender, the lemon in Amalfi shows up everywhere-on clothing and postcards, in perfumes and lotions and soaps, but nowhere else does it shine as it does in these three lemony must-try delights.
Pasta al Limone: Even if you don’t speak the language you’ll have no trouble translating this dish-pasta in lemon sauce. In this case fresh pasta with delicious creamy, lemony sauce. A true regional classic. Although this is a popular dish throughout many areas the best place to enjoy this simple-yet-elegant take on the classic is with Amalfi Coast lemons.
Limoncello: Of course Italian lemonade is everywhere and so is the sweet-tart cake treat delizie al limone but a true Amalfi Coast lemon delight is Limoncello. Amalfi Coast lemons are unlike any other lemon in the world. Larger than your grocery store variety lemon, their sweet-tart flesh is protected by a thick and rough-looking rind. The peels of the lemon are combined with sugar, water and alcohol. Time and patience are the only other ingredients. When in Amalfi we drink this lemony libation-a heavenly treat.
Cheese, Glorious Cheese
The Campania region is recognized for some of the best buffalo mozzarella in the world, Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. The mild, creamy soft cheese must be made in the Campania region in order to bear the trademark and status afforded by the DOC. It is tasty on its own but can also be enjoyed on another regional favorite, pizza Napolitana. Another delicious way to enjoy this creamy goody? In a regional salad, Insalata Caprese. This famous salad is so simple yet so amazing. Tomatoes, fresh basil and the mozzarella are combined with local olive oil into one divine dish.
Say Yes to Dessert!
Rum Baba: This decadent dessert is everywhere on the Amalfi Coast and so worthy of a place on my list. Although Italians often attribute Naples as the “birthplace” of Rum Baba, something similar originated in ancient Persia and India. The most recent version dates back to 19th century Paris. But it's a waste of time to quibble over such details when you can simply enjoy the experience of tasting a Rum Baba. This delicious dish is a spongy, yeasty cake that’s soaked in rum syrup. The dessert is very sweet with a rich-on-the-palate rum finish. The Rum Baba is frequently served with a dollop of cream.
Sfogliatelle: This dessert is one of the most famous and iconic desserts of the region. Sfogliatelle pastries are served throughout Italy, however the original concept was devised around 1700 in the Santa Rosa convent on the Amalfi Coast. The nuns created a pastry filled with custard and preserved black cherries. Somehow the recipe that was locked away with these cloistered nuns made its way into the hands of a chef in Naples. Chef put his own spin on the treat and today’s most popular Amalfi Coast version is the Sfogliatelle Riccia. This elaborate dessert has light and airy layers of paper-thin pastry in the classic clam shape with a creamy ricotta semolina filling, flavored with candied fruit and cinnamon. A pinch of salt to bring out the flavors of the fruit and a light dusting of powdered sugar ago the crispy layers makes this traditional delight oh-so-delicious.
So there you have it! My list of must-try foods in the Amalfi Coast. Can you think of some of your favorites to add to mine?
You may say how many people have it on their wish list or something like that.
During 'Dreamin Amalfi' tour you'll get the opportunity to taste local dishes.