10 Sep A Memorable Meal at Il Buco Sorrento
Seeking out memorable meals is something that pleases my palate. So, after an amazing week in southern Italy, which included winery visits, historical tours and a boat trip down the Amalfi coast, I capped off the week with a meal in Sorrento at Il Buco, considered one of the best restaurants in Sorrento.
Located in the heart of Sorrento, near the sea, Il Buco has been serving food worthy its Michelin Star. Open for more than 20 years, Il Buco has held its Michelin Star for 14 years! I arrived for my 8pm reservation and was taken down a few steps into the the dining room which used to be the wine cellar of an old monastery. My table was waiting for me, set for one person. Unlike in some restaurants where I am given a funny look when I ask for a table for one, the staff at Il Buco made me feel welcome immediately.
I was offered an aperitivo of sparkling wine or a cocktail but decided to pass as had read about the large curated wine cellar and was planning to do a wine pairing. Before I was given the menu, I was presented with an amuse of marinated anchovy with tomatoes and sliced toasted almonds. The sweet fresh tomato against the salty fish woke up my palate and the toasted almonds added a nice touch.
After I finished my amuse, I was approached by the chef and owner of Il Buco Giuseppe “Peppe” Aversa with a menu in his hand. A very friendly man, he welcomed me and explained that he wanted me to enjoy myself. There were lots of choices on the menu, including a tasting menu featuring fresh fish and a tasting menu focused more on the land. For those not wanting to do a tasting menu, there is an a la carte menu. And then, on the last page is the “I Trust You” menu offering a tasting of different creations chosen by Chef Peppe, interpreting his emotions and my preferences. Of course, that is what I chose.
Before the first course was served, I was presented with a bread tower, literally. It was three levels with different breads. On the top there was focaccia with oregano and tomato, crackers with rosemary, mixed grain bread, Naplitano tarallo with almond and black pepper and sticks with sesame seeds and poppy seeds. The second level had whole grain roll and a black olive and fennel roll. On the bottom level, there were baguettes.
Each course, Chef Peppe stopped by my table, as he did every other table in the dining room. His personal connection and the professional, friendly staff made the setting casual and informal and yet the service was professional and of the highest level.
First course: Prawns two ways
One prawn was cooked in olive oil and water at a low temperature. The other prawn was deep fried in seaweed. Both were so tender. They were served over a tomato, red pepper and watermelon sauce and the plate also had yellow and red tomatoes filled with caviar and a mozzarella cheese parfait with lemon.
Wine Pairing: Zyme From Black to White Il Bianco from Veneto
Made with Rondinella vinified white and traminer, the wine begin with aromatic floral notes but as it opened up, it picked up some petrol notes so the server and I think they also added a bit of Riesling to the blend.
Second Course: Mushroom
Shaped like a mushroom, the stem was thin bread filled with tuna and grilled. The top of the mushroom was the head of a porcini mushroom. The mushroom sat on a cheese and sun dried tomato sauce.
Wine Pairing: Petilia Greco di Tufo DOCG
Third Course: Giglio pasta with lobster and green pepper, burrata and gelee of lemon
The pasta is shaped like a cone with ruffled edges, looking like little bells, and was perfect to hold the sauce, which was delicate and delicious. The aromas of the green pepper were intense and I really enjoyed the mineral notes of the wine that worked really well with the dish.
Wine Pairing: Lis Neris Jurosa 2015 Chardonnay, Friuli
Fourth Course: Linguini with scorpion fish, zucchini flowers, sun dried tomato, bottarga of tuna and lemon
Another excellent pasta with a creamy yet light texture. The saltiness of the bottarga and the citrus of the lemon brightened the dish.
Wine Pairing: Rocca del Principe 2009 Fiano di Avellino
Even with ten years of age on the wine, it still maintained its acidity which cut through the creaminess of the pasta without overpowering it.
Fifth Course: Sea bass, cream of yellow cherry tomato, salad of asparagus, clams and tomatoes confit, pesto
Wine Pairing: La Spinetta Il Rosé Di Casanova 2018
A pale pink color, I was surprised that this was a rose of Sangiovese. The wine had beautiful strawberry and raspberry notes and delicate tannins that paired well with the fish.
Palate Cleanser: Green apple parfait, marmalade of apple and banana