Don Alfonso 1890 is one of the most influential restaurants in Italy. Many chefs of the better sort have learnt in its kitchens, and any chef who has done so will be versed in those disciplines of hard work and absolute dedication which are so evident in the famous establishment in the heart of the Sorrento peninsular. Now Don Alfonso includes not only a restaurant, but also an hotel of the ‘boutique’ sort, a cooking school, a consultancy and a farm. The origins go back to 1890, when Alfonso Iaccarino founded his modest hotel and dining room. The current premises were opened in 1973 by Alfonso’s grandson, another Alfonso, and his wife Livia. Now the team also includes their sons, Ernesto Iaccarino (in the kitchen) and Mario Iaccarino (in the front of house). Truly, this is a family business.
The Grand Hotel La Favorita is a palace of sparkling white in a very good location in the historical heart of that most pleasing of seaside cities, Sorrento. Although it is clearly modern, and re-opened in 2010 after a major refurbishment, it is discreet in its modernity. Indeed, its extensive ground floor public spaces are packed with so many antiques – statuary, porcelain and furniture – that they provide a charming and civilised welcome to its guests. These pieces, many of them from the 18th Century, have been collected by the hotel’s owner, Mr Enzo Manniello, who clearly likes the good things of life – a proper characteristic for one concerned with the offering of hospitality. There are 85 bedrooms, and the overall decorative style suggests the neo-Classical. The service throughout the hotel I found both diligent and courteous – a tribute to the leadership of the genial and experienced General Manager, Mario Damiano.
If you like cannelloni (and who in their right gastronomic mind does not?), then you must visit one particular restaurant in Sorrento. For in this place, over a century ago, cannelloni was invented. Then it was called ‘strascinati’. Now we call it cannelloni, and we love it, and in the restaurant in which it was invented they serve the best version you are likely to find this side of the Pearly Gates. With its wonderfully soft pasta, fine beef, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese, it is a joy to behold and a joy to eat. And since joy and the Christian religion are supposed to go hand in hand, let us be content that this dining room is called the Restaurant of the Parish Priest.
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