Corso Sant'Agata 11/13, Sant'agata Sui Due Golfi, 80064
- Recommended for:
- Foodies, Honeymooners, Special occasions
Best for Gourmets - Expert review of Don Alfonso
The story of Don Alfonso goes back to 1869 when Alfonso Costano Iaccarino was born. At the age of 14 he went to America and, after a brief flirtation with a boxing career, came back to Italy, settled in the Campania region, and opened a hotel. His grandson, Don Alfonso, was determined to focus instead on food and, with his wife, LIvia, opened a restaurant. They bought a farm on Punta Campanella when the notiion of growing organically was considered by some other restaurateurs as, frankly, laughable. Happily, the results of their efforts, and those of their sons, are some of the best cooking in all of Italy (with two Michelin stars to prove it). The restaurant is a little out of the way but, as the restaurant ow has accommodation again, there's really no excuse.
Today the kitchen is run by Alfonso's son, Ernesto, but the devotion to top quality ingredients remains. The menu is seasonally led and many of the ingredients are sourced from the farm 'Le Peracciole': olives (for their own extra-virgin olive oil), lemons (for homemade liqueur) as well as most of the fresh fruit and vegetables that are used in the cooking. Eating here is an experience to be savoured: the dining room is formal but comfortable, even cosy, and the service is exceptionally solicitous; either Livia or her son Mario are on hand to make you feel at home and explain everything. The tasting menu - eight courses of some of the finest cooking I've ever had - included such delights as homemade mezzelune (half-moon pasta shapes) stuffed with a fondue of Parmigiano and flavoured with thyme and a game ragout, to Amberjack (a delicate seasonal white fish) breaded with pistachios and almonds and a spicy paprika mayonnaise. It's impossible to do justice to how beautiful the dishes look when they arrive, or the exquisite combination of flavours and textures, but there's no doubting the love that has gone into creating these wonders (some of the recipes are new, others are revamped versions of old family favourites). And I haven't even mentioned the cellar, or the cheese (some of which are resting in the cellar with the hundreds of bottles of wines). Lunch is a less formal affair, but no less impressive.
There was nothing that I tasted in the two days that I spent here that I wouldn't happily eat every day until I die, but one of the signature dishes of the restaurant is a simple 'Vesuvius' pasta: a volcano-shaped pile of pasta, covered with a lava-flow of tomato sauce (see my picture); simple, but absolutely delicious.
Though the dining room is reasonably formal, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming; men wear jackets and women dress for dinner (you certainly wouldn't see any jeans or trainers). You'll be welcomed by Livia or Mario and then introduced to the sommelier who will give you as much, or little, guidance as you need with your choice of wines.
Exceptional - every dish is explained by engaging waiting staff. The operation is smooth, but never intimidating.
It's in Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, a small village that sits between two gulfs (hence the name) and lies about 6km from Sorrento.
Expect to pay around 150 euros. While prices may seem high, they are entirely appropriate for the experience: the quality of ingredients, skillful execution, atmosphere, care and attention to detail and service.
More information on Don Alfonso:
- Price guide:
- Corso Sant'Agata 11/13, Sant'agata Sui Due Golfi, 80064
- 081 533 05 58
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Opening times:
- April-mid June: Wed-Sun 12.30-2.30pm, 8-10.30pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Mid June-October: Tue-Sun 7-10.30pm. Closed Mondays. Closed November-March.
- Accepts Credit Cards:
- Always essential