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Lo Stuzzichino, at Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi

Vincenzo d'Antonio continues his travels around the Bay of Naples and Sorrento, discovering little gems of restaurants that the Michelin inspectors somehow fail to notice...

Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, that's Saint Agatha on the two gulfs. It's a very small hill town not far from Sorrento, and it's famous for the best restaurant of South of Italy: Don Alfonso with its 3 Michelin stars. OK, but we are talking about Stuzzichino, not about Don Alfonso.

Why two gulfs ?
Which are these two gulfs ??
They are the Gulf of Naples and the Gulf of Salerno.

When you go to Sant'Agata, which I hope you will, you can see the Gulf of Naples on your right and the Gulf of Salerno on your left side. From Sorrento to Sant'Agata you drive along a wonderful road - in a few moments you can see Vesuvius, Naples and, very far off, Ischia. Minutes later the Amalfitan Coast and Cilento appear in the distance. Last winter we saw snow! I leave Sorrento with the noise of cars, buses and the buzz of the continual crowd of international tourists in my ears. I reach Sant'Agata and I'm hearing the noise of the silence: I'm nearer to the sky and the sky is blue, the same colour of the seas: two seas, two gulfs.

From every part of Italy, gourmets arrive at Sant'Agata to have lunch or, better, dinner in Don Alfonso, the best restaurant of the South of Italy. The best restaurant between Rome and Sicily. I agree, up to a point. Don Alfonso has become very important and famous, so he often goes to cook for VIPs at Monte Carlo and when he is absent his kitchen isn't alright, although he has a good staff of international young chefs.

Anyway we'll go and see his famous place: it is a nice place. OK, been there, seen it, so come on. We're going to have a delicious lunch at Lo Stuzzichino, only a few metres away from Don Alfonso, but a long distance for my wallet.

Lo Stuzzichino means something you can eat as either a first course or a second course and this is the name of this restaurant's signature dish: stuzzichino.

The kitchen is in full view so you can see husband and wife. Smiling, they are cooking for you - beginning only after you make your choice. So, you must wait, for here you never eat ready made dishes. Mimmo and Rosario look after the front of house. They are bringing the dining room up to date, without spoiling the traditional ambience, we hope.

For your first course I suggest the red fez. It is a timballo of maccheroni with fresh tomatoes that give the strong and fine red colour to the plate. We liked it very much. There's bacon wrapped around a bed of fior di latte so that it becomes a grilled tube. The knife that cuts it reveals two foods that, in the brief cooking, have married very well. Your mouth is in agreement.

But we nearly always choose stuzzichino which are small pizze with tomatoes and provola, balls of rice and bacon, pockets with ricotta and fiordilatte, small tubes of bacon, ciambotta. Ciambotta is a mix of peperoni and melanzane (egg plant).

The style of the chef is to practice the best mix between the kitchen of both the Gulfs! We don't drink very well. It's the only weakness of Stuzzichino. Wines are few and not the best, but Mimmo is about to improve the wine list: let's hope it will become a very good wine list. So, we drink beer: normal, good beer. Mandatory stop: dessert is arriving. Delizia al limone. Never I ate a so delicious delizia: handmade by the chef, a great chef. Don't ask for limoncello to drink, it's much too ordinary, but ask Rosaria for Negrito. Negrito is a liqueur made from myrtle berries. Its colour is almost black. Is very dark, but sweet enough: very, very good.

Hurry is far from Stuzzichino: we have wonderful, slow food and slowly we drink another glass of Negrito (and another and another) before we ask for the bill. We were two persons and our bill was 40,000 lire, not per person, but for both!

Yes, it is so. Ciao, Mimmo, ciao Miss Rosaria, we'll come back here often; here heaven is a place easy to imagine.

Vincenzo d'Antonio 14th March 1999


LO STUZZICHINO Via Deserto, 3 SANT'AGATA SUI DUE GOLFI - 6 km from Sorrento Tel. 0039 081 5330010 Lunch and Dinner Closed on Wednesday and for three weeks in February

 

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