Published on September 3rd, 2017 | by Ann Rickard0
Cassa Angelina – Praiano
Un Piano Nel Cielo – the name of the restaurant at Casa Angelina, boutique hotel on the Amalfi coast – translates to ‘a floor in the sky.’
Now, doesn’t that tell you it will be quite the dining experience? Especially given that all of Italy’s Amalfi coast is one continuous spectacular view.
Hovering on rocky mountains that soar precipitously from the Mediterranean, every section of the winding Amalfi coastal road from Sorrento to Salerno offers views that have sent shivers down myriad spines for decades and attract the masses every summer.
In the small village of Praiano between Amalfi and Positano, Casa Angelina floats serenely above the tourism phenomenon of the Amalfi coast, and cossets a limited number of fortunate guests in its 32 rooms and suites.
The hotel is reached by a steep, twisting and narrow path that leads you past cliff-hanging homes and gravity-defying gardens. You must be told how to get to the hotel – we asked several helpful people on our way – but the reward once you have traversed a hundred or more stone steps is a sweeping view that takes in Positano, Capri and the Li Galli islands. There is a lot of gasping and incoherent babbling of ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ once you step inside the hotel’s doors.
The all-white palette is in pleasing contrast to the glittering blue of the Mediterranean below, and acts as a calm backdrop for a striking Murano glass art collection dotted around the lounges. However, even the luminous beauty of Murano glass cannot detract from the sky, cliffs and ocean views, all elegantly framed by wide windows and extensive doors.
While a stay at Casa Angelina is desirable, and a special treat, next best thing is a dining experience at Un Piano Nel Cielo, that floor in the sky.
It is certainly fine-dining, but there is nothing starchy here. It is about local hospitality and a friendliness that relaxes as you are eased into your chair and handed a water menu.
We were dazzled, but composed ourselves quickly and were soon sipping San Pellegrino and reading the food menu with small, slim torches, necessary in this floor in the sky where only the flickering candles on the table, the glimmering lights of Positano and the blush of the moon provide light.
If we thought the water menu daunting, there was no hope of navigating the overwhelming wine menu. But after a glass of pink bubbles, produced in France exclusively for Casa Angelina, we were not shy about calling for help from the sommelier, just a foot step away. He graciously guided us to a reasonably priced local red. (If splurging is your thing, there is no limit to wine labels from around the globe.)
The menu follows the seasons and relies on local produce and culture, although it certainly gives tradition a culinary makeover.
The antipasti course begins the epicurean expedition: sautéed squid with orange flavoured potato cream, juicy roasted scallops with apple on walnut sauce. Then, as is traditional with Italian menus, the pasta course follows. We skipped it despite the temptation of spaghetti with Cacio cheese and pink pepper seafood truffles, because the ‘carne’ course (meat) beckoned.
Beef, ‘pizzaiola’ with a delicate potato mille-feuille, and tender pistachio crusted lamb were chosen, perhaps sacrilege considering Praiano was a modest fishing village not so long ago and the caper crusted sea bass would have no doubt been delicious.
For a big finish, no desert. We had spied a trolley coming out onto the floor in the sky bearing giant pyramids and thick slabs of multi-layered chocolate. The trolley was wheeled to each table where the waiter carefully scrapped and chopped curls and chunks of chocolate onto small plates while we watched and salivated and silently said: ‘our turn next’. A sweet and decadent finish to a magical evening of unforgettable dining.
The writer was a dinner guest at Casa Angelina.
Amalfi Coast, Italy.