A magical, Michelin star restaurant in the heart of Sorrento. The perfect end to a beautiful holiday.
I planned my entire holiday around this restaurant. I’d been undecided on where to go so I did my usual trawl of TripAdvisor and when I came across Il Buco I knew I had to go there and so, Sorrento was booked and I’d fired off an email to reserve a table for the last night of the holiday before my flight booking had even completed.
Il Buco is nestled in the centre of Sorrento but tucked away from the bustle of the streets and the whizzing past of the mopeds. When we arrived we were given the option to sit outside or inside the beautiful vault instead – it was a bit chilly so we opted for inside which was a great move. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful inside and out with simple yet effective decor.
As soon as we’d taken our seats our waiter Gaetano came over to introduce himself and to bring us a canape of local white fish, served cold and to bring us the menu. As you know I don’t eat fish but I will give it a try and it was plain but pleasant.
Before we get into the menu and the food I should really take a moment to talk about Gaetano and how utterly excellent he was. Incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and efficient – really, really excellent.
From the moment I discovered Il Buco online I had my heart set on the tasting menu. I’d never had a tasting menu like this before and I thought that if I was going to give it a try I wanted to go somewhere really special to do it.
You have the option to meet the chef and create your own tasting menu, which in hindsight I probably should have done, but instead we opted for one fish tasting menu and one meat tasting menu. We went for the wine pairings too because, when in Rome right?
First up was a glass of local Amalfi spumante which was crisp but fruity. I really enjoyed it.
Then came the bread basket of dreams which included this beautiful cherry tomato focaccia. Honestly, the bread basket is one of my favourite parts of any meal because I live for carbs but the courses were SO substantial that we barely touched the bread.
My first course was buffalo mozzarella on a tile of oregano bread with local tomatoes, yellow tomato puree, a tomato stuffed with anchovy, vegetables in oil and mozzarella snow – yes, you heard me right. Snow. Frozen and grated mozzarella. This was a great start to the meal for me, the mozzarella was incredible and the yellow tomato puree was unreal. Best course of the meal for me. The bar was set high.
The first fish course was steamed lobster with burrata, avocado, celery, tomato water and basil granita. I tried some of the basil granita and it was inspired – so simple yet so incredibly effective. The lobster was perfectly light and steamed.
My second course was fried beef stew, carpaccio and roulade of buffalo with ricotta and an apple cake with celery and walnuts. Now, I very rarely eat red meat and I hate the thought of eating rare meat so this probably wasn’t the best choice for me. Also, I’d never dreamed of trying buffalo. But I did and it was tasty and I genuinely enjoyed it very much – I couldn’t finish this plate, a theme that was set to continue.
The second fish course was composition of octopus with potato rolls, takoyaki and spinach pesto and it was a real showstopper. I tried a tiny piece of the octopus and also a piece of the octopus ‘dumpling’ which was SO good. The colours were incredible. Everything was so fresh.
All of my course came with red wine, Callum’s with white. The above is a pretty accurate representation of me for most of the night: double parked with wine! All of the wine is Italian and most are locally sourced, in fact I had one of the best red wines of my life that was grown on the Amalfi coast!
Course three was tagliolino with lamb on pumpkin sauce and caciotta cheese. This was incredibly tasty, the pasta was perfectly cooked and the lamb melted in the mouth. I was incredibly full by this point and I tried to smuggle half of it across the table to Callum.
Riso carnaroli with cauliflower cream, red mullet, seaweed, orange zest and smoked salt were next up on the fish menu which I think is a posh way of describing a risotto. Again, this was an absolute 10/10 from the piece I tried.
Homemade ravioli filled with local cheese on a Neapolitan ragu came next for me. The ravioli was incredible, the pasta was so light and full of flavour and the meat of the ragu fell apart when touched with the fork.
A much smaller portion of pasta on the fish menu! Linguine with lemon scented scorpion fish on roe and sundried tomato sauce was another revelation: beautifully presented, perfectly cooked and just the right size.
Course five – FIVE! – was cube of black pork stew with honey and chilli pepper, vegetables and fried polenta. I really wish I hadn’t been so full at this point because honestly, this was the most exceptionally beautiful dish. The cube of pork was incredible. By this point I thought I would actually burst, or burst into tears, if I ate anymore.
This dish also came with a vintage wine in the most amazing glass – look at that point!
The final fish course was fillet of local white fish with asparagus, clams and puttanesca sauce. I couldn’t even look at this much less try it but Callum really enjoyed it.
Between the last course and dessert we were brought strawberries and cream and a glass of moscato dessert wine.
And then came dessert! I had a wild strawberry tart with a foam of warm meringue, orange sauce and limoncello ice-cream. Now normally nothing comes between me and dessert but I think I managed a grand total of three mouthfuls of this and it was divine. So divine. The warm meringue was such a great idea!
The dessert accompanying the fish menu was a creamy lemon dessert with froth of limoncello and a crumble. Again, this was really, really delicious but we were just so full.
I can honestly say that trying the tasting menu at Il Buco was an unforgettable culinary experience. The quality of the food and the skill of the chefs really was mind-blowing. The service from the waiting staff was probably the best I’ve experienced. The wine pairings were inspired and we enjoyed everything we were served.
The portions were a little too substantial for me with the meat tasting menu, purely because I don’t really eat red meat so I felt really quite poorly afterwards! I think that will be my last tasting menu for quite a while, I felt terrible and wasteful not being able to finish every plate!
I think we paid €150 each for our menus, plus a tip so it really is something to do as a treat. If you’re going to do something like try a Michelin-star tasting menu then you’ve got to do it properly!
If you’re going to Sorrento I cannot recommend Il Buco highly enough and if you’re really lucky, you’ll get Gaetano as your waiter!