Sorrento – Keeping it cheap
My employer puts us in the Hotel Villa Maria which is one of the cheaper places in town at €100 a night and much used by Thomas Cook package tours. It’s fine (15 mins walk from the station, good breakfast, dated but sizable rooms, medium sized pool, sun deck, happy hour) but if I was ever to come back on holiday, I’d stay outside Sorrento and take the train in to make things cheaper.
There’s a self-service launderette (a rare thing in Italy) just around the corner from the hotel at 1 Via degli Aranci.
Sorrento is an expensive destination and there are plenty of tourist trap restaurants that will charge you a lot for not particularly good food. However if you’re here for work as I always am, or on a budget, you’ll want somewhere that gives good value for money. Below are a few decent eateries for everyday dining. Please see my next post for posher restaurants.
All these places and more can be found on my Google map.
Il Leone Rosso (Intermediate A), 25, Via Marzale (off Corso Italia, next to the train station), www.illeonerosso.it, Tel. 081 807 3089
The Red Lion is a great place to eat on a normal week night. They have an excellent value-for-money three-course Menu Touristico which is what I tend to go for. There’s an outdoor terrace and the friendly staff don’t pressure you to finish. As a result it’s really popular so it’s probably best to book ahead, especially if you want to sit outside in the summer months.
I’ve been several times (thrice in 2008 and once in 2015) and I ate equally well on each occasion. For first courses I can recommend the Canneloni alla Sorrentina (beef mince, mozzarella and tomatoes) (A) and the Fettucine Bolognese (A).
For the second course I’ve had some great fillets of sea bass and ‘ricciola’ (A) with a wonderful crispy salad (A). They also do pizzas, although I wasn’t that impressed (B-) on the one occasion I tried one.
To drink I’ve had a memorable (A) Greco di Tufo (Colli di Castelfranci ’07) for only €16. The dessert cakes are good too and you get a complementary limoncello and free refills.
Proximity to transport connections (bus and train stations) make it a convenient place to eat at short notice if you’ve just arrived in town with a suitcase, if you can get a table that is.
Villa Rubinacci (Intermediate A), 25 Via Correale, next to the Hotel Eden.
Once you have exhausted the Red Lion’s Menu Touristica, then Villa Rubinacci is the best value-for-money place to go in my opinion. It’s heavily patronised by locals (lots of families, kids and TVs so it’s not very quiet). There’s a large outdoor terrace that gets very busy at the weekend so it’s best to arrive early (8pm should do it). The menu is the thickness of a small book and has a multitude of options, including gluten-free.
Dishes I would recommend include; Fiore di Zucchine (deep-fried courgette flowers stuffed with proscuitto and ricotta), Trofie dell Chef (pasta twists with prawns, squid, aubergine, provola), Calamari in Casseruola (squid in a heavy tomato and garlic sauce), Linguine or Spaghetti ai Frutti di Mare, Bistec Sorrentina (steak with mozzarella and tomatoes) and the grilled veg.
The house red is ok but I wouldn’t recommend the white, my only criticism really. I prefer to splash out on one of the excellent Campanian whites, such as Falanghina, Greco di Tufo or Fiano di Avellino from famous producers like Mastrobordino and Cantina del Taburno, which are reasonably priced here.
La Lanterna (Intermediate A), 23 Via San Cesare
Another nice place where you can sit outside, but you may need to book. They are famous for their Risotto Pescatore which comes with mussels, squid, a scampi and three kinds of clams. The staff were very helpful when I went.
Da Emilia in my previous post on the Marina Grande is also inexpensive.
And some places to avoid:
Old Taverna (Intermediate C) at 23 Via Fuoro (the continuation of Via San Cesare).
I only came here for the football as they have loads of tellies. You can’t sit outside and it’s rather cramped inside. I had a ropey Fettuccine Bolognese followed by sausage and chips (both C). Their own-produced house red was ok though at €7 for half a litre. Guinness and Fosters are on draught should you want a taste of home.
Bar Venuruso (Intermediate D), 43/49 Corso Italia
Near the hotel Villa Maria but pretty poor foodwise. The house red was only €6.50 but undrinkable. The veg soup was ok and only cost €6, but avoid the croutons which come as a side.
Hotel Rivage (Intermediate C), 11 Via Capo (just opposite the side street that Hotel Villa Maria is on)
I had a piddling tuna salad for €6 (C) which was expensive for 2008. However the service is friendly and it has a good view of Vesuvius and the gulf. It had a €13 Menu Touristico but I didn’t try it.