I have discovered that there might not be a cuisine more steeped in its culinary tradition than Sorrento food. The people take pride in their local foods and it shows in the care taken to create these incredible dishes.
Whether you are interested in seafood, pasta, or dessert, there is a wealth of cuisine that can be found in Sorrento and its neighboring regions. As I did my research for this list and discovered the rich history of these dishes, it was like taking a trip through the country itself.
Join me now as we take a look at very popular Sorrento foods and perhaps learn some interesting secrets along the way!
The Best 10 Sorrento Foods to Taste
1. Cozze alla Sorrentina
A dish so delicious it can be served as an appetizer OR a main course! Cozze alla sorrentina (Sorrento mussels) uses ingredients that are typical of Mediterranean cuisine. They include fresh mussels, San Marzano tomatoes, parsley, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil. Happy customers say that the sauce created from cooking can be a meal by itself. You can use the sauce to add flavor to rice or pasta, maybe with a side of croutons.
2. La Caprese
A Campania dish complete with the colors of the Italian flag, Caprese salad is both flavor-packed AND beautiful to look at! It is made with fresh, soft mozzarella, red tomatoes, and green basil leaves. It was created in 1920 for a special dinner celebrating the poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The buffalo mozzarella from this region is creamy and melt-in-your-mouth soft. The tomatoes are usually sweet and bright red to show off the contrast of colors!
3. Pomodoro di Sorrento
Abundant sunshine soaks the Sorrento Peninsula, and with its close proximity to the sea, it is no wonder that the tomatoes of the region have an exceptional taste and aroma. These are typically the tomatoes used to make different Sorrento food and are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine. They are usually large, round, and juicy with a delectably sweet taste. During the ripening stage, the colors usually change from bright pink to solid red.
4. Babà al Limoncello
If you would like to try a truly traditional Neopolitan dessert with a recipe that is over 50 years old, look no further. A baba (or rum baba) is a yeasted cake made with eggs, butter, and milk. The cake itself is then soaked in a specific type of liqueur. It could be rum or, in this case, limoncello, a beloved traditional Italian alcoholic beverage known for its zesty lemon flavor and bright yellow color.
5. Totani alla Sorrentina
Sorrento is a coastal city, which means if you decide to visit, you will have access to a very large variety of seafood that cannot be found in other places. One of the local seafood delicacies is totani, or ‘baby squids’. The squid itself is stuffed with a creamy filling made of mozzarella, breadcrumbs, and grated parmesan. It is then cooked in a sauce made of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, chili pepper, and parsley.
6. Spaghetti con le Noci
Our next traditional dish is spaghetti con le noci or spaghetti with walnuts. Back in the 19th century, peasants living in Naples could only afford to eat this type of meal a few times a year. There are actually two ways to prepare this Sorrento food. The first is to simply pour crumpled walnuts over spaghetti with garlic and oil giving it a distinct flavor. Or you could eat it with a walnut cream made of shelled walnuts, garlic, and milk.
7. Sfogliatella di Santa Rosa
The story of this pastry is quite fascinating. It was created in the 1600s by a nun in the Monastery of St. Rose on the Amalfi Coast. She made the sfogliatella by combining dried fruit, milk, sugar, and lemon liqueur inside a shell-shaped bread and garnishing it with raspberries and cream. The recipe remained a secret for 150 years until it was later obtained by chef Pasquale Pintauro, who changed the filling to have ricotta, orange cubes, and cinnamon.
8. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina
Enjoyed for many generations by the people of Sorrento, this vegetarian comfort food is often made for family gatherings. Gnocchi is Italian dumplings made from potatoes and flour. The fertile soil of the region gives the potatoes an earthy taste. The gnocchi itself is baked in a rich tomato sauce with melted mozzarella cheese and fresh basil leaves. The sweetness of the sauce comes from the cherry tomatoes that are also grown in the region.
9. Delizie al Limone
Invented in 1978 by a Sorrento-born pastry chef named Carmine Marzuillo, this dessert is also known as ‘lemon delight’. The lemons from Sorrento have an intense, zesty flavor and even have an edible peel. The sponge cake has a light texture and a rounded dome shape with the inside filled with lemon cream and custard. It is then drowsed in limoncello syrup with a wild strawberry placed on top. An explosion of lemony flavor!
10. Provolone del Monaco
For all of you cheese lovers, here we have a Sorrento food created in the municipality of Vico Equense. Originally created by monks from the Lattari mountains in the 18th century, this semi-hard cheese only uses the milk of Agerolese cows (an endangered dairy breed). The texture is elastic with wide holes and the taste is very intense, becoming more spicy the longer it ripens. Be sure to enjoy this with red or white wine.
The Best 3 Michelin Star Restaurants in Sorrento
Have you ever wanted to eat at a restaurant located in the wine cellar of a 16th-century old monastery? I have. The menu of the owner-chef, Peppe Aversa, includes seafood and meat that is found locally. He decided not to change the ingredients too much in order for the Sorrento food to keep its natural flavors. Several customers recommend the lamb with sauce and the Risotto carnaroli with cream as well as the fish-tasting menu.
This restaurant is part of the elegant Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. The hotel itself is perched on a cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples, which can be seen from the restaurant terrace in the summer months. Antonino Montefusco, a Sorrento-born chef, produces the oranges, lemons, and olive oil in the hotel’s own gardens. You have a 6, 8, and 11-course tasting menu to choose from, and many dishes offered will depend on the season.
If you would like a restaurant with a honeymoon type of romantic setting, please go to the Lorelei. The terrace where you will be sitting is the perfect place to view a sunset. Ciro Sicignano, head chef of Lorelei, also has his garden where he grows aromatic herbs. Highly recommended is their truffle pasta. There is also an a la carte menu as well as a 5-course tasting menu. Ask the sommelier for wine recommendations!