Rossellini’s at Palazzo Avino: Is This The Amalfi Coast’s Best Restaurant?
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Rossellini’s at Palazzo Avino: Is This The Amalfi Coast’s Best Restaurant?

This clifftop restaurant offers a taste of la dolce vita

Eva Ramirez heads to one of the Amalfi Coast’s most glamorous hotels, Palazzo Avino, to try its Michelin-starred restaurant, Rossellini’s.

Restaurant Review: Rossellini’s at Palazzo Avino, Ravello, Italy

‘A culinary journey’ is a well-worn phrase in the food world, typically used when describing tasting menus. However, if I were to liken dining at Rossellini’s to a metaphor, I’d say it’s more of an odyssey than a journey. Each dish guides you through a labyrinth of flavours, textures, and sensations, transporting you somewhere you hadn’t imagined. Even the plating, sometimes unexpected and a touch haphazard, changes from course to course, adding to the theatrical experience.

The Michelin-star restaurant is found at Palazzo Avino, Ravello’s iconic 12th-century pink palazzo that perches cliffside above the Amalfi Coast. The property has 33 rooms and 10 suites, and is quintessentially Italian, an architectural masterpiece with baroque-meets-modern interiors. 

Rossellini’s at Palazzo Avino

Rossellini’s dining room is charming with whitewashed, arched interiors, striped chairs and deep mahogany antique furniture. But it’s the terrace that steals the show. Uniformly placed tables frame breathtaking views and giant candy floss-looking clusters of hydrangeas make it feel all the more dreamlike.

I was spending two nights at the hotel and dining alone, so I was glad to be given a front row seat at the edge of Rossellini’s terrace. It had been a soggy afternoon so my views were slightly shrouded by a rain cover, but I could still make out the glittering lights that snaked along the coast. Candles and a live guitarist set the cosy mood. Around me, there were couples both young and old, and groups of friends, no doubt celebrating a special occasion. 

The waiter brought over a glass of champagne and guided me through the water menu first. Yes, there is a menu dedicated to water, listing the minerality and pH balance of at least 15 different bottles. I opted for a classic, Acqua Panna, then turned my attention to the tasting menus, which read like a journal or memoir. They had poetic names such as ‘La Mia Storia con Ravello’ (My History in Ravello) and ‘Il Viaggio del Ricordo’ (The Journey of Memory). Evidently, Chef Giovanni Vanacore is a storyteller, paying homage to the region while weaving a narrative of personal and agricultural history.

Rossellini’s at Palazzo Avino

The experience began with a daintily plated beetroot tartlet amuse-bouche. Sweet, tart, and crispy, I made the mistake of biting into it instead of devouring it in one, causing bright red juice to squirt onto my silk shirt – lovely. Wardrobe malfunction aside, it was very tasty. By now, the sommelier Luigi had brought over a glass of champagne – perhaps he’d witnessed my mishap. A page of my book later, and I was presented with what looked more like an art installation than a bread basket. A structural combination of crisp breadsticks, truffle focaccia, Sardinian-style crackers, and spongy charcoal sourdough, which was brought to the table and sliced in front of me. This is Italy, of course, so the bread was accompanied by delectably pure olive oil, all cloudy and green with an almost spicy touch.

Rossellini’s at Palazzo Avino

A few bites in, and a selection of what looked like jewellery boxes and decorative ceramics were brought to my table. These were canapés, I was told. One opened up to reveal a parmesan crisp in the shape of a fishbone. The other had a cream-filled pastry cigarillo poking out of it. The chef has a sense of humour too, I thought. Despite the fun and games, the flavours were seriously good, both contradicting and complementing each other.

The waiter returned to take my dinner order and quelled my indecision by allowing me to pick and mix my starter and main from different tasting menus. First came an aromatic grilled fennel with gratinated almonds and an orange sauce. Sweet and citrusy, it woke up my palate for what was to come: risotto with ripe frigitelli peppers, red tuna bottarga, and lemon. Oh, the lemon. I wouldn’t have been happy to go the entire meal without a taste of Amalfi lemon somewhere along the way. I adore bitter, astringent flavours, and the green pepper and lemon hit that spot perfectly. For my main, meaty monkfish ‘Alla Diiavola’ was prepared with eggplant, tomato, and a white wine sauce – a divinely fresh dish that didn’t feel too overindulgent after the risotto. 

The entire meal truly was an exploration of the region’s ingredients, with dishes maintaining the ripest and purest flavours of their produce without too much over-complication; a fine balance of tradition and quirky personality, I’d say. I didn’t have any room left for dessert, but Francesco, the maître d’, saw me off with a box of petit fours – pink to match the pretty walls of Palazzo Avino.