We spent much of our first morning wandering around the narrow tourist packed streets of the village of Sorrento. We stumbled onto a flea market which is always a pleasant surprise. After finding the perfect tablecloth for our terrace dining table we were able to muster up enough Italian to ask the vendor where we should eat lunch. She immediately suggested a place that, unless researched on the internet, we would have never chosen or even noticed. Oddly, there is nothing from the street side that would beckon any tourist to stop and consider the menu. The main event is much deeper into what is really an expansive indoor/outdoor restaurant with beautiful gardens well dressed with garden sculpture and fountains. It is worth noting that much of the exterior garden dining is really sheltered by arbors and lemon trees.
Don’t get me wrong; we soon learned that tourist are brought in for a tour which included bread and wine and an audio presentation by the matriarch of the establishment. This included an oral history of the place dotted with some amusing stories about the opening and origin of the restaurant. The restaurant takes great pride in being recognized in Wikipedia for being the inventor of the cannoli which is still served today using the original recipe. Thankfully, these interludes are short lived and frankly most of the tourists don’t stay for lunch. Also those coming in unannounced as we were are seated among the Italians, local or otherwise, who had either reserved or were known by the restaurant staff.
We promptly ordered wine and a bottle of sparkling. The traveler ordered the risotto with seafood (you may recognize a pattern forming here) and I ordered the grilled fish fillet with a side of baked eggplant and mozzarella. This last side dish turned out to be the real show stopper. Don’t misunderstand. The grilled fish was excellent and fresh and perfect for a hot late Summer day. The risotto, too was rich and delicious; filled and garnished with seafood.
All main dishes aside this eggplant dish was captivating. Many might just, as I did in the beginning, assume it was Eggplant Parmesan. However, the menu pointed in a slightly different direction when instead of Parmesan it called out Mozzarella di Bufala. The Mozzarella paired with the rich and tangy tomato sauce with a hint of Basil and then baked and served in its baking dish became a creamy tomato and eggplant dish to savor and remember for my own version at home. So stay tuned in the Recipe section for my version prepared in our kitchen in Rome.
Note: Featured Photo is courtesy of the restaurant’s website: Restaurant Parrucchiano