Eat.Drink.Travel: Il Buco, Sorrento (Italy)

 

I had a very ambitious trip to Italy - I visited four major cities and over 8 villages during my short 6 day tour. During my 48-hour Sorrento stop, I ate at two restaurants in the lemon-infused city: L’Antica Trattoria and Il Buco. Both were Michelin recommendations and Il Buco had an actual star. I preferred L’Antica Trattoria though.

Il Buco means hole in the wall. Right in the centre of Sorrento, the restaurant sits inside a cellars of a former monastery. Considering how the majority of Nigerian christians shun alcohol, I could never imagine wine cellars in a Nigerian monastery.

I digress.

Sitting there beneath the complete stone ceilings, reminded me of dining in Ali Baba’s Cave restaurant in Diani beach - that’s a restaurant that sits inside a natural cave. The restaurant is everything you’d expect from a restaurant with one Michelin star - cooking to a high standard, exceptional plating and creative dishes with distinct and bold flavours.

Whether or not you like the flavour is a different matter.

Simple, unfussy cuisine with a blend of traditional and modern influences, an excellent wine list of around 1 000 different labels, and service that manages to be efficient yet friendly and informal at the same time. Housed in the cellars of an old monastery in the heart of Sorrento, this restaurant offers gourmet dining in a homely ambience.
— MICHELIN guide inspectors

I wanted the full experience of dining in such an upscale restaurant so I went for the “Mi fido di Te” menu, meaning “I trust you” aka the blind tasting menu. I asked for my service to lean more towards the land because I’d had what I considered to be my fair share of seafood over the past two days.

The menus are shaped by the seasons in traditional gastronomy based on the products that are available at different times of the year. A precise orientation that is distinguished by intuition, inspiration, creativity and also by the whims of those who must combine, transform and balance these ingredients. So trust becomes a challenge. But there are no chances to be taken, it is a winning bet

All that said, after entrusting my hunger to the chef, here’s what he surprised me with:

Legume foam and prawns

I didn’t expect it but I was pleasantly surprised by the beans I found hidden in the foam. The prawns were cooked to perfection not a second longer than they should have been, I didn’t expect anything less so this was not a surprise.

Legume foam and prawns

Legume foam and prawns

Fried beef, buffalo carpaccio, walnut ricotta, peas

The buffalo carpaccio is the two deep red rounds (north and south) with the pink in the middle (ricotta). The cubes are actually fried beef as per like sallah meat but actually moist and chewable. The rest of is is an apple cake with celery and walnuts.

Fried beef, buffalo carpaccio, walnut ricotta, peas

Fried beef, buffalo carpaccio, walnut ricotta, peas

My pasta dish was the Homemade ravioli with smoked mozzarella which was incredible. It was served with a Neapolitan ragu which literally melted in my mouth. All their meats are locally reared - I asked.

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Course five and probably my least favourite was cubes of pork slow cooked in honey, served on polenta with vegetables (carrots) in dusted in cacao. As you’d probably expect, the flavours in this were a lot more intense than anything I’d been served all along,

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I forgot to tell the server I didn’t like chocolate so the first dessert they brought me was an overwhelming chocolate dish but when the server sensed that my spirit had sunk, he whisked that plate back to the kitchen and brought me something new, incredibly quickly - I must add

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Sorrento is an absolutely lemon infused town. They really do make the best lemon everything like this dessert. Just like at L’Antica Trattoria, the chef went for a double whammy with lemon two ways. The top was a limoncello foam and then underneath was a lemon mousse. At the base was a crumble. The entire thing together? Just wonderful.

Without a doubt, the “I trust you” tasting menu met all my expectations - in terms of the quality of the ingredients and the skill with which everything was prepared. It felt like I was eating art. The only thing that could have taken my experience to the next level was if I had gone for the wine pairing option. That wasn’t a let down though, because our server recommended a fantastic Falanghina from the Amalfi coast.

The damage in case you’re wondering was 85 Euro each for this menu alone. The cover at Il Buco is an affordable 3 Euro and I really cannot recommend it enough.


Il Buco is at 2ª Rampa Marina Piccola, 5 (Piazza S.Antonino), 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy. Reservations are highly recommended.