It was easy to fall in love at first sight. Bikini Complesso Turistico. A lido hugging the Sorrento Coast. Wih the perfect view of Vesuvius. Spectacular sunset. Soft music and good food. It would have been almost impossible not to.
But what about by day? Could this enchanting location by the sea have the same effect ‘with the lights on’, so to speak. Owner Giorgio Scarselli thought so, so he invited me to return a week later. After my school girl’s crush had worn off and get a real good look at his beach, his restaurant, his Bikini.
His beach has been in his family since about 1952. It started out as a simple place to hang out. Back in the day, Giorgio’s father told me, there wasn’t even water to take a shower. Donkeys would climb up the cliff and bring water down so that sun bathers could take a shower. Times have obviously changed. This lido has gone from 3 employees to nearly 84 between the beach, restaurant, and various events held at Bikini. Grown with a philosophy that the Scarselli family has of not offending the environment. They understand and respect that Bikini is the entrance to the Sorrento Peninsula. One of the first breathtaking images seen from the road along the coast. Bikini blends in with its environment, dressed in beautiful green leaves, browns from the various woods used in the decks and various structures that embrace the beach. And the pinks, reds, whites, and light purples of the flowers in full bloom. A place where up to 600 beach lovers could spread out comfortably on their beach chairs, relax, and swim in a beautiful blue sea which was awarded one of the prestigious Banderia Blus given to Italy by the European commission. A lido completo, complete with all the creature comforts including a newsstand, bar and snack bar.
But for those who are looking for something a little ‘extra’ at meal time, you need to go up. Up a trail that leads you through nature, through a fresh green garden and takes you to Bikini’s restaurant. A restaurant that has been around since 1980. Giorgio, also a chef, pays attention to every detail of his restaurant. A quick chat with Chef Domenico De Simone, a stroll through the kitchen, and then we sat down to lunch on the terrace overlooking the mare. Bikini’s menu features fresh products from their garden and the sea right next to their beach. You may order a la carte, or try one of their two degustazione offerings which give you a little taste of everything. We had the on entitled ‘La Nostra Proposta’ which began with the starter panzarotti stuffed with smoked ricotta on a bed of cubed tomatoes. Then two appetizers: crudo di pesce (fresh raw fish fillets) in tomato water with black olives, fennel, and candied oranges and perla di dentice (snapper) with stuffed smoked ricotta with vegetables and semolina. So far so good, I thought, especially served with Fiano di Avellino 2009 DOCG by Ciro Picarello. Time for the first courses and I was served two fresh colorful selections. Fresine with clams and shellfish with a little saffron and a comforting ravioli filled with creamy potatoes and squid topped with fava beans. We decided to change our wine…stay in Campania…stick with Fiano, but this time Quintodecimo 2009. Second course? Grilled mullet with escarole and grilled vegetables. Time for dessert, baverese (Bavarian cream) with orange and white chocolate and a fresh berry sauce.
Giorgio was called away for a moment, so I sat alone reflecting over a glass of Moscato di Basalice 2009 from Masseria Parisi. I thought about how beautiful this part of the coast is. How Bikini can be as enchanting by day as it is by night. On a beach chair, in their restaurant. Or even during their upcoming season of Food and Wine on the Rocks, a series of evenings that Giorgio has scheduled to be held on the scoglie…on the rocks. A glass of wine or spumante…a light meal. And once again, that amazing sunset that captivated me a couple of weeks earlier.
So, Bikini by day…love? I don’t know, I smiled to myself…Maybe I have to come back. Try out Food and Wine on the Rocks, next weekend, just to be sure…
You know what they say…the third time’s a charm!
13.900 km Strada Statale Sorrentina 145,
Vico Equense (Na)