There are some restaurants you visit that you just know you’re going to remember every little detail of forever, as it really blows you away. That happened in September at Don Alfonso 1890 in Sorrento. Tim and I were in Italy for my friend Kelly’s absolutely stunning wedding, and we had a day to ourselves afterwards before heading back to Blighty. We thought we’d treat ourselves to a luxurious date night, at Don Alfonso 1890 which is around a 20 minute drive from the centre of Sorrento.
It’s a family-run business for over 40 years, and upon arrival we were introduced to Livia Iaccarino, pictured bottom-right. She was wearing some very cool sparkly multi-coloured trainers under a long skirt, and was one of the most charming and polite people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in a restaurant environment.
We would soon learn that those shoes were an analogy for the whole dining experience. Don Alfonso 1890 was modern yet old-school. The decor was clean and fresh with bright tones of pinks and purples, adorned with traditional Italian character models on glass shelves. The dishes demonstrated a variety of intricate cooking techniques using local, produce, with flavours which have been enjoyed in Italy for centuries.Everything served at Don Alfonso 1890 is organic.
As well as being a fine dining restaurant, the venue also has some beautiful rooms to stay in and even has its own farm, located in the Sorrento peninsula.On their 7 hectares of land, they produce most of their vegetables for the restaurant, as well as high quality extra virgin olive oil and their own limoncello.
We decided to go for the biggest tasting menu, to sample as much as possible that this wonderful restaurant had to offer. It was also a really diverse and exciting menu which we couldn’t wait to get stuck into. The menu was as follows:
- Eel ice cream, Oscietra caviar, pasta scented with rose and a mince of wild herbs
2. Duck breast scented with cinnamon, borage, apple preserve and reduction of balsamic vinegar
3. Kisses of squid ravioli stuffed with catch of the day on a light Mediterranean pesto
4. Cappelli filled with overcooked pork, Amatriciana sauce made with yellow tomato, Parmigiano and black truffle
5. Red mullet gratinated with caper powder from our organic farm, black garlic cream, reduction of red wine and rocket
6. Guinea-fowl stuffed with Bronte pistachios, a sauce of sweet pepper of Senise in two different styles, acidulous and spicy, with potato puree flavoured with saffron and wild fennel brittle.
7. Miniature pastries
8. A concert of lemon, fragrance and flavours
9. Pastiera souffle with ice cream of spiced honey
In addition to all of the above dishes, there were also a couple of ‘amuse bouche’ dishes, sorbets to cleanse the palate, and a beautiful selection of home-made breads served with the farm’s olive oil.
After dinner, we were kindly invited to visit the restaurant’s kitchen to see where the magic happens, and also to explore the venue’s wine cellar, which was really something to behold. It houses over 25,000 bottles of wine and even has an pre-Roman ancient tunnel.
From the moment we set foot in the restaurant, we felt completely at home. The room we were dining was spacious and luxurious without feeling awkward or stuffy. The service was absolutely impeccable but also very warm and friendly. You’re always going to expect excellent service in a restaurant of this calibre, but it takes skill to serve at this level while also being down to earth and personable. I think a certain amount of this comes from the Italian personal
If you’d like to learn more about Don Alfonso 1890, I came across this video which is a lovely representation of what the restaurant stands for, and the family’s values:
You can also visit their website here. Just make sure to book well in advance if you’d like to pay them a visit, which you really should if you’re in Sorrento. It will be a life changing restaurant experience.