Located in the basement of a former monastery and over one of the main doors of Sorrento, Il Buco was born in 1997, considered by many the best restaurant in town, conquering its 1st Michelin star in 2003, keeping it with conviction till today.
Giuseppe Aversa – Peppe to friends – focused his entire cuisine in the territory it’s inserted in, reinventing and modernizing the traditional cuisine, using the fresh produce from the sea at its door, as well as the pasta and the vegetables from inside the Campania.
The Restaurant is divided into several rooms (among them a wonderful terrace over the arcades of the monastery), with a decoration accordingly to the region, combining white with bright tones where pink stands out in contrast with the stone.
Already installed in the most romantic and private table of the main room, we are awarded the welcoming of the chef, a fried Polenta with tomato sauce, marinated anchovy, ricotta and basil sauce. A good omen to what would come next, an excellent combination of flavors and textures, elevated by the kick of the anchovy.
Followed a great variety of bread, homemade, where the cheese and salami one stood out, typical from Naples and also the onion Focaccia (delicious). High score also to the olive oil accompanying.
On the glass, we toasted with a Sparkling Rosé produced with the classic method in Campania, the DU BL do Feudi di San Gregorio, 100% Aglianico, which revealed a pleasant and interesting surprise, given its elegance and aromatic quality.
Squid, Tuna, Prawn and Red snapper
And we started with the classic Italian Crudo that brought me good memories from other fishing regions of the country. Baby tuna with onion and teriyaki, squid with dark salt and passion fruit, both with orange and thin slices of red snapper, elevated by sauces of Aperol, beetroot, and passion fruit. Highlight to the sweetness and texture of the prawn, as well as the balance and notes given by the sauces in the flavor combo. Excellent raw material.
Mullet, endive, beans, spelt and lentils
Fish full of sea flavor combined with quite earthy flavors. Excellent combination of textures and the contrast of flavors elevated by the acidic notes of the green olive and the sweet side of the dried tomato. Very good!
Risotto with burrata, shrimp and apple marmalade
In this region, the Italian rule of not mixing seafood with cheese is not followed (and I tend to appreciate it), but here the result was very different from others I tasted before. Excellent risotto, with al dente rice and super creamy, with the right amount of burrata in order not to overlap the sweetness and softness of the shrimp, intensified by the sauce made with its heads. The apple enhances the sweet notes of the dish.
Accompanying was a Marisa Cuomo Ravello 2015, a white produced in the slopes of Ravello, where the highlight goes to the freshness and acidity, in the mouth and in the aroma.
Linguine with Rascasso, zucchini flower and tuna bottarga
Fish in small bits cooked perfectly, fresh and silky sauce with elegant lemon, tomato, and zucchini flower notes. A simple and tasty dish, elevated by the excellent bottarga serving as seasoning and flavor intensifier.
Delicate and perfectly cooked fish, nicely paired with the cauliflower puree and the bottarga sauce. Interesting contrast between the textures of the crunchy zuchini flower and the potato cake, but lacked something to take it to another level.
Harmonizing was another white from 2015, a Fiano di Avellino de Ciropicariello, a white with expressive aromas, with flowers, dried fruits and some honey and rosemary, revealing nice freshness and citrus notes in the mouth, white fruits and a good ending. An excellent company to the fish.
A version of the classic Neapolitan dessert, with the rum marking a strong presence, balanced by the sweetness of the chocolate mousse.
Wild strawberries tartlet, Crème anglaise, meringue and limoncello ice cream
Excellent dessert with all the flavors combining very well, including the alcoholic side of the ice cream. Less positive note just to the base of the tart that could’ve been more elegant and thin.
The service was one of the most interesting and efficient of this trip to Italy, caring about the details, knowing of the dishes and with the experience of knowing when to talk and express themselves and when to leave the client in his space and environment.
Chateaubriand being prepared at the table
The Chef’s personality, that I apprehended after a small but interesting talk, transpires in his cuisine. Peppe Aversa is passionate about produce, for his roots and for traveling and learning techniques and flavors from other cultures (we even talked a bit of our Codfish!). And that reflects in the dishes, in the combinations and the domain of the maritime flavors, being Il Buco located a few steps from the Sea. It’s one of the best restaurants in the region, with a well-deserved star, from where you leave happy and satisfied without feeling robbed (something common with the prices almost everywhere along the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento).
It’s a mandatory space to those visiting the city and the region.
Il Buco Ristorante
Menus from 75€
2nd ramp Marina Piccola – Piazza S.Antonino – Sorrento
+39 081 87 82 354
Text: João Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses