Italy: Bruno's in Positano is the place to eat

By Peta McCartney

Fifty years ago, Bruno Amitrano opened a bar half-way up the hill from the tiny beach in the seaside resort of Positano. Seventeen years ago, his daughter Ornella and her husband Mario converted the bar into a restaurant.

Positano, Italy. Photo / Thinkstock
Positano, Italy. Photo / Thinkstock

The food at Bruno's - dedicated by Ornella Amitrano to the memory of her father - is rich, yet light; melt-in-the-mouth perfection, which will have you sopping up your plates with the thick slices of traditional Italian bread that's served with every meal.

Escape from the busyness of Naples and its brashness to the quieter, yet dramatic slopes of the Amalfi coast, where cliffs jump out of the sea and houses perch on top of one another in creams and pale golden hues that glow in the evening sun.

There has been no development here for decades, thanks to the good sense of the government after World War II to preserve the ambience of this spectacular coastline.

The local carabinieri enforce the ruling, and the empty shells of partly constructed dwellings remain as reminders where people tried to stake a claim in the UN heritage area.

Positano, one of the most popular villages on the coast, is more like an Escher print, where homes, guest houses and hotels jostle for space and spill directly onto the narrow footpaths and roads, which somehow accommodate the cars and tourist buses.

Don't look too closely at the locals' cars and vans - most have a ding or two - but nothing too dramatic, considering the hairpin bends and millimetres to spare as they manoeuvre the coastal roads.

Bruno's is a cosy little bistro during the off season and a thriving eatery during the summer, with its tables set across the road offering gourmet views of the ocean and pink and cream cliff-side village with every meal.

So impressed were we with our first night's meal, we immediately committed ourselves to dining there for our third and final night and weren't disappointed.

If you try the fish platter for an entree, you may not have room for a main, so try sharing it, as well as a delicious eggplant parmigiana, or seafood pasta.

Equally delicious is the veal, and succulent, tender steak, while a mixed salad will easily serve three.

To finish, because the desserts are truly irresistible, try the tiramisu, which melts in the mouth, or one of the specialties of the area - the potent limoncello liqueur which is almost pure alcohol and lemon juice, and packs a punch.

You'll find Bruno's is just five minutes stroll up the hill from the Hotel Savoia on Via S. Colombo, from where you can base yourself for exploring up and down the coast or in and around nearby Sorrento and Naples, under the shadow of Mt Vesuvius.

When all you want after a few weeks on the road is a home-cooked meal for a reasonable price, then you should definitely head to Bruno's, but you may never want to leave.

IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: High-speed rail services shrink the travel time between Rome and Naples to just 70 minutes. Trenitalia has more than 180 trains per day, with 574 seats per train, linking all major Italian cities. The Italian Rail Pass starts at NZ$235 per person.

STAYING THERE: The Amalfi coast is the best base to explore Naples and Pompeii, 40 minutes drive away.

The family-run Savoia Hotel is a great place to stay and is near Positano's main square and beach.

PLAYING THERE: Full-day tours from April to October cost $67.50 for adults and $50.65 for children, and include transport and an English-speaking guide. Entry fees are extra: Pompeii $18.60) and Vesuvius $15.90.

For more, check out savoiapositano.it.

- AAP

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