Friday, August 28, 2015

La Sponda

La Sponda is one star Michelin in Positano, Italy that is lit, at dinner, by 400 candles that create an unforgettable atmosphere. The cuisine is based on local, fresh ingredients and is inspired by the Mediterranean tradition. The restaurant is located within Le Sireneuse Hotel, the idyllic Positano hotel owned and run by the Sersale family since 1951 with windows that overlook the majolica-tiled dome of Santa Maria Assunta and the harbor of the Amalfi coast.

La Sponda features Chef Matteo Temperini's cuisine of the South: fresh fish, ripe tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, a lot of vegetables, Mediterranean herbs, lemons from the Amalfi Coast and fresh cheeses. The great Neapolitan tradition is reinterpreted by his expert hands and made lighter, more modern. The result is a very genuine and fresh cuisine, full of the rich flavors of our region and made using very fresh ingredients, preferably local and carefully selected.

The restaurant itself is beautiful. The setting is open and airy with spectacular views of the sea and the multi-colored houses and buildings built on the mountain side. We made reservations well in advance, and were seated out on the terrace with a spectacular view. We opted for the seven course Chef's Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings priced at 175 Euros per person.  As the sun was setting, it quickly got dark out so many of my pictures did not come out.  And frankly, I was enjoying myself so much that I didn't take too many notes on the exact specifics of each dish*.  However, below are some highlights of our dinner. (*The descriptions below are from my faded memory - please do not quote these details as fact.)

We started with fresh bread and vegetables from their roof garden.  As an amuse bouche, we were treated to fun presentation of sardines poached in olive oil, served in a tin.  The sardines were not fishy at all and I was already intrigued as to what the rest of the menu would entail. 

Next, we ate a pickled mackerel course with bright citrus flavors and a small eggplant croquette.

The peach soup with langoustine was a delicate and sweet bite. It paired well with one of the many white wines we were served (I did not catch any of the names, but they were mostly all Italian with maybe one or two French varieties.)

A favorite of the night was the Linguine with Clams.  The pasta was very al dente and the broth was light and full of intense clam flavor.  Keith could have eaten an entire large bowl of this classic Italian dish.  My dish, however, had some grit in it which was a bit off putting.

Next, we each had a fish dish with fennel. I cannot remember the type of fish, but it was cooked nicely and good portion.  I had a second fish - sea bass perhaps - served with a pesto sauce, as a substitute to the veal that Keith enjoyed.  They carved it table side, and the meat was tender with a rich gravy and roasted potatoes.

Then we segued into dessert, starting with a chocolate and plum pudding topped with lemon rinds.  It was followed by a "chocolate bomb" topped with a cotton candy and pour over with chocolate sauce.  It was served with a sweet dessert wine.  Lastly, we finished with a plate of sweets: macarons, panna cotta tart, and a chocolate hazelnut tart and a shot of limoncello.

The service at La Sponda is equally impeccable - extremely warm, highly attentive and proud of the restaurant and setting. They also have two musicians playing beautifully and surprisingly they were not at all obtrusive when they eventually came by our table at the end of the night. We had an incredibly romantic dinner in Positano at La Sponda.

Total Rating: 4.23
Food: 4.5, Price: 2.5, Service: 5, Ambience: 5, Accessibility: 5

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