The Eating Guide to Matera, Italy

Italy

There’s something about Matera that makes the town an enigma; church bells ringing poetically at the crack of dawn, dusty alleys leading to houses carved into rocks, the haunting silence when the town lights up for the night. Either way, its presence draws outsiders in like a moth to a flame.

Once shut out to the outside world, Matera has been gaining traction as a tourist spot since biblical movies – and one popular film The Passion of the Christ – made the town its setting. Dig deeper into the intricate network of cave dwellings (Sassi) and you’ll see that the town is littered with trattorias and restaurants. Tourists have yet to discover Matera in full, so the food is still steeped in tradition. 

Look forward to: Sausages, lamb and salumi

Kapunto 

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Where: Via Lucana, 178, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Raviolis
For: Affordable lunches

In traditional Matera, Kapunto shines bright in its modern approach to serving fresh pastas. Every morning, pastas and raviolis are handmade and laid out in all shapes and sizes. Pick the pasta that catches your eye, followed by the sauce (butter and sage, bolognese, pomodoro, rapeseed, or black chickpea and octopus cream) to go with it. If you ask the waiter, he would recommend the right sauce for your choice of ravioli. 

Il Cantuccio 

Where: Via delle Beccherie, 33, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Specials of the day
For: Lucanian cuisine

Lucanian food is the bread and butter of Il Cantuccio, a small-scale restaurant holed up in a back alley. The seasonal specials are the ones to watch – minced meat ravioli with senise peppers, chickpeas with porcini mushrooms, or goat’s milk ricotta with fig. One of the restaurant owners tends the tables, and he would gladly share the origins of their seasonal ingredients from the region. 

L’Abbondanza Lucana 

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Where: Via Bruno Buozzi, 11, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Pistachio pasta
For: Smart dinners

You might have to crouch a little to get past the entrance – L’Abbondanza Lucana is housed inside a cave structure. Impeccable service and an exquisite menu reimagined from traditional Lucanian cuisine are what makes this restaurant favoured for corporate dinners and fancy dates. Meals normally start with a glass of prosecco and the chef’s seasonal appetiser, before you indulge in dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. 

I Vizi degli Angeli

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Where: Via Domenico Ridola, 36, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Gelato
For: An ice cream stop

If you have ever stepped onto the main square of Matera, you would have wandered into I Vizi degli Angeli after witnessing the periodic queues. Delightfully rare gelato flavours are what you’ll get at this gelato laboratory – apple and celery, pineapple, avocado and lemon, red wine, and ricotta. The gelato comes in a cup, cone, soaked in coffee syrup, or even wedged between a slice of bread. 

Trattoria I Due Sassi 

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Where: Via Ospedale Vecchio, 1, 75100 Matera MT, Italy
What: Lamb
For: Affordable dinners

Eat well and affordably at Trattoria I Due Sassi, an old-fangled trattoria that does homely Lucanian food that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. A platter of local cheeses, salumi and pickled vegetables (the best way to taste Basilicata’s produce) will set you back €12. For the best lamb, this trattoria’s version falls right off the bone. 

The Eating Guide to the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Italy

The Hollywood guest list at the Amalfi Coast is a never-ending story; the coast is a perennial favourite amongst A-listers for its glamourous Italian beaches, opulent hotels, and of course, divine seafood. The Amalfi Coast is made up of almost 80 km of twisting roads, soaring cliffs, and views that get exceedingly beautiful at every turn. 

In summer, days at the coast are long and languid. Stare into the deep blue ocean and you’ll see fishing boats bring in their catch of the day, which will end up on your plate at dinnertime. While you’re on the Amalfi Drive, you’ll find yourself pulling up at unexpected stops for a photo moment. Just by the side of a curb, a man is selling freshly squeezed lemonade. That’s la dolce vita for you. 

Look forward to: Seafood

La Strada 

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Where: Via Gennaro Capriglione, 178, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood risotto
For: Romantic dinners

You will find La Strada tucked along the narrow streets of Praiano. There, a staircase at the back hides a surprisingly spacious, panoramic terrace on the second floor. Run by the Gagliano family, most of the menu is dependent on what the family’s trawler brings in from sea. The seafood risotto is outstanding, and other seafood dishes such as prawns and fish come with lemon dressings. 

Casa e Bottega

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Where: Viale Pasitea, 100, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Clean food
For: Breakfasts and mid-day snacks

Casa e Bottega is bringing the clean food trend to Positano by introducing organic ingredients to its menu. You’ll find freshly squeezed juices, smoothie bowls, homemade cakes, natural gelato, and an elaborate breakfast menu. They give a healthy dose of vegetables to each dish, and you’ll even find that the eggs come with cucumbers. The café also doubles up as a shop, and you can buy fish-patterned ceramics and fabrics there. 

Saraceno d’Oro

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Where: Via Pasitea, 254, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta
For: Casual lunches

Have a meal at Saraceno d’Oro, and you’ll feel like you’re family. This family-run restaurant tops the list for reasonable prices and quality in Positano. The atmosphere is casual, and you’re most likely going to enjoy your vongole pasta while the waiter shares with you the history and ownership of the restaurant. 

Franco’s Bar

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Where: Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Pre-dinner drinks

Franco’s Bar is the bona fide watering hole – no food, just drinks and nibbles to complement. The open space is utterly chic, glamourised by splashes of gold and royal blue. Come before 6 pm (the bar’s opening time) to get a front row view of houses tumbling down Positano’s cliff. It’s insanely photogenic. 

Mimi’s Pizzeria

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Where: Via S. Francesco, 12, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Pizzas
For: Casual lunches

Despite being hidden from the main square at Ravello, Mimi’s Pizzeria still gets swarms of patrons hungry for pizzas freshly baked in a wood fired oven. You won’t go wrong with the classic margherita – just tomato, mozzarella and basil on fluffy, thin crusts. If the classics bore you, go for the Mimi’s specials such as pizza with ricotta stuffed crust, tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil. 

La Bonta del Capo

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Where: Via I Maggio, 14, 84010 Conca dei Marini SA, Italy
What: Lemon ravioli
For: Beef

You will need a car to get to La Bonta del Capo, where chef Fiore Oliveto’s lemon ravioli is the star of the menu. Stuffed with lemon zest and ricotta cheese, this ravioli dish is undoubtedly light and works as a sharing dish so you won’t have to miss out on the other seafood dishes. Choose the outdoor seating area that juts out into the ocean, and you’ll know the drive up the narrow road is well worth it. 

Villa Maria

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Where: Via Santa Chiara, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
What: Vongole pasta with chickpeas
For: Smart dinners

Situated above a garden terrace, the Villa Maria mansion stands out as one of the remaining old world Italian residences in Ravello. The tables in the al fresco restaurant are housed under a canopy, with a view of Ravello’s stunning terraces. The garden is where the chef picks out fresh ingredients. There’s nothing standard about the menu – carbonara with salmon instead of pancetta, vongole paired with chickpeas. Take a walk inside the hotel’s sitting area to marvel at the marble-clad interiors. 

Kasai

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Where: Via Umberto I, 84, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Seafood
For: Casual dinners

You can’t stay past a day in Praiano without your host whispering to you that Kasai is Praiano’s finest restaurant. The menu is predominantly seafood (well, it is the Amalfi Coast after all), so don’t waste it on a chicken thigh. You can have your fill with the €25 daily set, which includes a starter, first course and main course. 

La Moressa

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Where: Via moressa 1, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy
What: Homemade sausages
For: Breakfast

La Moressa will satisfy your craving for a good ol’ English breakfast. The homemade sausages are very old fashioned – grilled ground pork shaped into irregular patties. Eggs are rare for breakfasts in Italy, but this café does them fried and as sunny side ups. And bacon, well, it comes in the form of grilled pancetta, but we’re definitely not complaining. 

The Eating Guide to Tuscany, Italy

Italy

More than a decade has passed since Under the Tuscan Sun was released, and Tuscany is still as breathtaking as ever. The plan to explore the region is simple – get a car and drive take the autostradas up to charming hilltop towns and wineries. When you head to the rolling hills, homemade pastas and meats rule the Tuscan palate. 

Look forward to: Ragu, handmade pasta and wine.

Gelateria dei Neri

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Area: Florence
Where:
 Via dei Neri, 9/11, 50122 Firenze, Italy
What: Gelato
For: After meal sweets

The search for the authentic gelato in Florence is no mean feat, but Gelateria dei Neri is a household name amongst Florentines for the right Italian ice-cream. Traditional flavours like nocciola, pistachio and limone are golden. For a bite of something more unique, granita (Italian ice that originates in Sicily) comes in mandarin, pink grapefruit and mint flavours. 

Trattoria Sabatino

Area: Florence
Where: Via Pisana, 2R, 50143 Firenze
What: Anything
For: Cheap Italian fare

When it’s time to get off work, the Italians head to Trattoria Sabatino, a family-run eatery in Santo Spirito which seems to serve a locals-only crowd. You can hardly spot hordes of tourists in Sabatino, but instead find hungry Italians engaged in conversations over simple Tuscan fare. Food is dished out in small portions and prices start from €2. Try the mushroom salad, which are raw porcini mushrooms lightly drizzled with olive oil. 

La Schiacciateria

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Area: Florence
Where:
42/31, Via Di Novoli – 50127 Florence (FI) – Italy
What: Panini
For: Breakfast 

La Schiacciateria is the accidental breakfast find that became a routine stop every morning. It’s hard to choose between a pizza or a panino, but either way you won’t be disappointed. Simple ingredients are what makes its panino top-notch. Just prosciutto, mozzarella, rocket and a drizzle of olive oil sandwiched between focaccia. 

Il Latini

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Area: Florence
Where:
Via dei Palchetti, 6R, 50123 Firenze, Italy
What: Florentine steak
For: Dinner

Almost anyone who is a Florentine steak aficionado knows that Latini is the place to go in Florence if you want one that’s done right. Before you order a Florentine steak, know this – Florentine steaks are cooked rare on the inside and fully seared on the outside. No exceptions. Any beef cooked more than medium rare is not a bistecca alla Fiorentina. Ordering to the minimum weight set by the restaurant is a requirement. Rest assured that this large piece of steak can be shared. 

Caffè Sant’Ambrogio

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Area: Florence
Where:
 Piazza Sant’Ambrogio 7, Florence, Italy
What: Wine and anything on the menu
For: Drinks 

The Italian under-30 crowd can be found in Caffè Sant’Ambrogio in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. After 8 pm, the piazza gets bustling, and the waiters at Caffè Sant’Ambrogio are busy handing out drinks to its patrons. This casual joint doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet and the menu satisfies a cosmopolitan palate – hamburger steak with melted cheese, and pasta with tuna pesto and olives. 

L’Altro Cantuccio

Area: Montepulciano
Where:
Via delle Cantine, 1, 53045 Montepulciano SI, Italy
What: Steaks
For: Romantic dining 

Matthia and Monica opened L’Altro Cantuccio in 2013, and has since been known to serve some of the best Chianina beef in Tuscany. Varied cooking styles of the Chianina beef makes up most of the menu here. The chef serves it grilled, raw (tatare or carpaccio style) or as a meat sauce for pastas. To go with the beef is an extensive wine list which boasts the best of Montepulciano wines. 

Il Pozzo

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Area: Montalcino
Where:
Piazza Castello, 53024 Montalcino – sant angelo in colle SI, Italy
What: Homemade pici pasta with breadcrumbs
For: Tuscan cuisine

In Sant’Angelo, Il Pozzo serves really handmade pastas (as they emphasised) and a wine list that boasts the best of Montalcino. Its owners, sisters Franca and Paola, are born and raised in this part of Tuscany, and learned everything about Tuscan cooking from their grandmothers. Don’t expect modern Italian cuisine here, but rather, Tuscan dishes from a simpler time. Handmade pici pasta with breadcrumbs is a local specialty, and so are the pappardelle al cinghiale and acquacotta. 

Da Enzo

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Area: Siena
Where:
Via Camollia, 49, 53100 Siena SI, Italy
What: Ragu and truffle salad
For: Tuscan cuisine 

Push past the tourist crowds in the main square to get to the quiet street of Via Camollia, where truffles and ragu are found in Da Enzo. You can’t resist the traditional Tuscan ragu cooked with homemade pappardelle and topped with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated cheese. You’ll wonder if an Italian nonna resides in the restaurant’s kitchen. Since you’re in the region, go all out with the truffle salad, a dish jam-packed with a generous shavings of this iconic Tuscan ingredient.