Friday, August 14, 2015

Lunch on the Beach, Chef Vincenzo Piacente, Hotel Parco Dei Principi, Sorrento (Na)

The first time I met Chef Vincenzo Piacente, it was a breezy summer evening last June.  He prepared for me a tasty appetizer on the dark grounds of a medieval castle.  As tasty as the dish was, I told the chef that hopefully the next time I taste his cuisine, the lighting would be a little better.
Fast forward several weeks and I found myself parking across the street from Hotel Parco dei Principi in Sorrento.  I had an appointment for lunch, with Chef Vincenzo Piacente...on the beach, where the lighting was much better than that evening at the medieval castle.

Hotel Parco dei Principi is a 5 star almost unnoticeable from the road, but hard to miss from the sea.  A short walk from the main gate took me through cool green gardens that lead up to the reception.

 I opened the door and entered the lobby decked out in blue ceramic tiling designed by Gio Ponti. (And for the occasion, I traded in my usual blue jeans and sneakers for a blue dress and black heels) After a short walk around, I decided to relax in the lobby before lunch and look over the menu.

 I was curious as to what the chef hand in store, excited about sharing the dining room tourists from all over the world who flock to Sorrento and this hotel year after year.

But as 1 pm rolled around, I noticed that I was pretty much alone waiting for my table. Alone, until a member of the chef's brigade came out of the main kitchen.  
Ciao, Karen! 
It was Gaetano Borelli, who I also met earlier in the summer.  The chef said you'd be wearing a blue dress.  Chef Piacente is down at the beach.  I'll show you.

I'd forgotten! Piacente had told me that in the summer, lunch is served at the Poggia Siracusa Restaurant on the hotel's private beach.  Dinner, instead, at the Gio Ponti Restaurant, where I was waiting.

Basile took me down...way down to the beach by way of a series of elevators/labyrinths until finally we arrived to Poggia Siracusa where Chef Piacente and staff were in the midst of a hectic lunch service. A lunch service that focuses on light lunches with popular dishes to please the international traveler who desire something quick and easy before heading back to sunbathe or for a swim,

Chef  Vincenzo Piacente

On that particular day, however, Piacente decided to serve some of the dishes that are usually found on the evening menu to see how it would look on the beach.  

So while I waited with a glass of Fiano di Avellino 2013 by Terredora, the chef sent over his welcome dish.  An assortment of fresh seafood include shrimp and oysters. 

Next, an appetizer of lobster cooked in infused black tea with red berry mayonnaise and crispy rice.

This was soon followed by breaded swordfish stuffed with Italian parsley, garlic, pecorino romano cheese, raisins and pine nuts.

It was then time for a couple of first courses.  Fantastic first courses.
The first, mezzi paccheri pasta from Gragnano with amberjack fish.  The fish was presented in two versions, raw and cooked.

Next, the chef's cacio pepe pasta dish with vermiciello bucato pasta from Gragnano, mussels, and a creamy sauce made with yellow pachino tomatoes.

Second course -   sea bream cooked in lemon with sweet potatoes had that 'tocca in piu' thanks to the addition of marinated caper leaves from dottoressa Alfonsina Longobardi of the restaurant Nonna Giulia.

Between each course, I looked out to the sea, watched bathers and fish enjoying the early August vacation period, sipped on water and wine.

Time for dessert. 
Poggia Siracusa's version of delizia di limone with strawberries.

A perfect ending to my lunch.
A lunch in which the chef impressed me once again as he had that summer evening at that medieval castle.
But here, at Hotel Parco dei Principi...
on the beach...
the lighting was much, much better.

Hotel Parco dei Principi
Via Rota 44
 80067 Sorrento (NA)
081 8784644

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