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04.11.2014. Best of the Coast
Picture ©Roberto Salomone
This morning, the 2015 Michelin guide to Italy was presented in Milan. Although there were no new three-starred restaurants to get excited about, it was nice to see the rigorous, unswayable inspectors of the world’s most famous restaurant guide confirming one thing we’ve long known to be true: that the restaurant scene in Campania is on a rising curve.
Only Tuscany and Sicily – two other great Italian food regions – rival the area centring on Naples in terms of the leap each made in the 2015 guide. This year, Campania’s total star-haul jumped from 30 to 35, with four new one-star establishments, and another – Taverna Estia in Brusciano, north-east of Naples – being promoted from one star to two.
We’re happy that Matteo Temperini of Le Sirenuse’s La Sponda restaurant had his Michelin star confirmed in the 2015 guide – for the third time since it was first awarded in 2012. But we’re also pleased to see that Mammà in Capri has been awarded a star, a little more than a year after it opened. Old Capri hands may remember this place as the location of Da Gemma, a historic island restaurant beloved of Graham Greene, where the food was hit and miss but the welcome and atmosphere as warm as toast.
Now under the tutelage of Gennaro Esposito – talented, larger-than-life chef of the Torre del Saracino, by far the best restaurant on the Sorrento side of the Amalfi peninsula – it has become the hot spot for a gourmet meal in Capri town. But there’s substance behind the all-white, seaside-rococo design scheme: this is a restaurant that takes the ‘fresh and local’ rule so seriously that it has no fridge or freezer units (they promise that any fish you eat today was caught today). And to placate the spirit of the late lamented Gemma, they also run a more informal pizzeria next door.
Another very pleasant surprise in the 2015 Michelin guide is the star awarded to Il President in Pompeii. This is a town that until recently, for obvious reasons, was associated mostly with tourist-trap restaurants with menus in six languages. Chef Paolo Gramaglia rowed against the tide when he opened his gourmet outpost here in 2006 after working in Japan and the Caribbean. Faithful to the local tradition but not afraid to experiment, Paolo is famous for his themed menu evenings where he explores, among other things, the cuisine of the old Maritime Republics (Amalfi, Venice, Genoa and Pisa) or the food of ancient Pompeii.
In the meantime, if you can’t wait until spring to sample some of the flavours of Positano, it’s just possible that they may be coming your way. Currently in residence at London private club 5 Hereford Street, Le Sirenuse’s executive chef Matteo Temperini will once again be bringing his light Amalfi Coast touch to the Il Carpaccio restaurant of Parisian grand hotel Le Royal Monceau, in January, and in February surfing over to California for a second stint at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. But never fear: from 28 March he’ll be back at Positano for another season in the sun. Our only problem now is: what do we eat until then?