WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE KESSELEM, SUMMER II, 2017
Within two weeks of living in Sorrento, I have learned more than I thought possible. For instance, trying to speak a language is better than not trying, the sun is hottest at 2:00 p.m., and the food in Sorrento is incomparable. In fact, it may sound cliché but Italian food is truly an art. The food is handmade, fresh, and timeless; every course that I have tried is exemplary. For those of you who are waiting to travel or study here, I am going to break down some of Sorrento’s best delicacies into three groups: dinner, desert, and alcohol.
Seafood, pizza, and pasta are a few standard dishes in Sorrento, as in much of Italy. Some of the freshest fish, clams, and shrimp can be found from the markets at Marina Grande and are the ingredients for delicacies such as “spaghetti e vongole” and “frittura di calamari e gamberi.”
The simplicity of the “pizza margherita” truly does not compare to its rich taste and popularity; a mixture of thin crust, San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, salt, and olive oil. This pizza is nothing less than holy.
Speaking of god-like meals, the “gnocchi alla Sorrentina” gives pizza a run for its money. This dish is comprised of potato gnocchi, sometimes homemade, packed with fresh mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese, and laid to rest in a sweet tomato sauce. This local favorite is not only tasty but keeps you satisfied for hours.
As for dessert, I did some research by asking Sorrento locals about their favorites. Three desserts, distinct to the Sorrento area, were chosen out of the many desirable options. First, we have “delizia al limone” (“lemon delights”), a type of sponge cake packed with lemon cream, coated in Limoncello syrup, and covered in lemon crème glaze. This dessert is about as fresh as you can get, considering Sorrento is known for its flourishing lemon trees.
Another decadent pastry is the “baba au rhum,” which is usually served individually, in small cake form. The cakes are soaked in rum syrup and filled with an Italian whipped cream. Typically, the cake can also be topped with a sweet apricot glaze. The perfect combination of rich and sweet, this dessert will leave you begging for more.
Finally, for all the nut lovers out there, comes the “ricotta torta caprese.” This savory chocolate cake is packed with finely minced almonds or walnuts and is dusted with powdered sugar after baking. Some Italians will add a bit of liquor to the recipe to give a kick to the batter. The appetizing final course takes it name from the Island of Capri.
What better way to enjoy dinner and dessert than to pair it with a favorite local wine or liquor? One favorite, the “Rosso Sorrento,” is a sweet red wine that pairs especially well with the pizza margherita as well as other tomato sauce-based dishes. A bottle of “Lacyrma Christi,” or quite literally translated “Tears of Christ,” is another prized wine. Produced on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, a fable tells that Christ cried over the land and his tears made the grapevine from which Lacryma Christi is prepared. This wine pairs extremely well with gnocchi and other potato dishes.
Additionally, in Sorrento, amidst wine is the legendary Limoncello liquor. Prominently made in Southern Italy, especially in the Neapolitan area, this bitter liquor thrives as a palate cleanser after large meals. Served in a shot glass, one is meant to slowly sip on the sour drink rather than kick it back. The drink is proudly produced from Sorrento lemons, specifically the zest and peels, and mixed with sugary syrup. This is a local favorite that is deemed a necessity to try when visiting the town of Sorrento.
With this guide I hope I have shown you just some of the main dishes, desserts, and drinks available in Sorrento. However, do not take my word for it–visit.