Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria
Piazza Torquato Tasso, 34
80067 Sorrento, NA
Tel. +39 (081) 877-7111
BY IAN D'AGATA | SEPTEMBER 13, 2018
Buffalo mozzarella (Mozzarella di bufala)
Classic club sandwich (Il club sandwich)
Large spaghetti with San Marzano tomato sauce and extra virgin olive oil (Spaghettone con pomodoro San Marzano e olio extra vergine di oliva)
Lemon delizia (Delizia al limone)
|2016 Tenuta Sarno Fiano di Avellino
|2015 Miani Chardonnay Zitelle
The terrace and the view at the Terrazza Vittoria
The Terrazza Vittoria in Sorrento is the beautiful terrace restaurant of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, which offers a simple but fine lunch menu of classics in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings.
The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is one of Sorrento’s best. It is also home to Terrazza Bosquet, which is among the finest restaurants in the city and region. As good as that restaurant is, it’s hard not to also fall in love with Terrazza Vittoria, which unlike Terrazza Bosquet is open at lunchtime. TerrazzaVittoria offers exceptionally beautiful views, a quiet ambiance and delicious food, all of which will get any heart beating faster. And the cardiac rate rises another notch or two when perusing the wine list, which is noteworthy for its choice of names and vintages. As an insiders’ tip, diners can also ask for Terrazza Bosquet’s wine list too.
Guido and Ornella Fiorentino run the hotel their family has owned since 1834. The hotel is refined and stately, and the terrace is exceptionally beautiful. There, you will dine in an idyllic garden terrace setting (there is also a very elegant interior dining room for the winter months), with breathtaking views of the baby-blue Mediterranean sea and of the Sorrento coast cliffs before you. It is actually hard to detach oneself from the view to concentrate on the food, and that’s a shame because the food itself, though simple, is actually very good. The Buffalo mozzarella is fresh and flavorful, as you’d expect it to be in any decent restaurant in Campania. Terrazza Vittoria’s rendition of this classic features just the right spring and crunch. “Buffalo mozzarella” refers to a “mozzarella” made with buffalo milk; but many people also use the term “mozzarella” when cow’s milk is used. Purists cringe, insisting that the correct term by which to denote a “mozzarella” made with cow’s milk is fiordilatte. The habit of calling everything “mozzarella” without distinction is partly due to the fact that the term “mozzarella” is derived from the verb “mozzare”, or the hand movement used to make both mozzarella and fiordilatte, and so strictly speaking, generically using the name “mozzarella” may not be especially accurate, but it is not wrong.
Classic club sandwich
The Terrazza Vittoria’s classic club sandwich is very good, but not quite at the level of the better versions I have had in North America, or even Italy for that matter (of course, you might prefer to try the restaurant’s more gourmet version of club sandwich, perhaps not by chance called club sandwich Excelsior Vittoria, featuring marinated grouper and zucchini carpaccio, among other ingredients). The best dish by far during this lunch is the large spaghetti with San Marzano tomato sauce and extra virgin olive oil, where the delightfully concentrated and flavorful tomato sauce and chewy, delicious pasta makes for an unforgettable combination. It’s the sort of pasta dish that makes it easy to understand why Italian cuisine is so popular all over the world.
Large spaghetti with San Marzano tomato sauce and extra virgin olive oil
Finishing off a meal in Sorrento with the delizia al limone (lemon delight), Sorrento’s iconic dessert, is a no-brainer. A heavenly mix of sponge cake, lemon cream and limoncello syrup that is sweet and caloric but remarkably light on its feet, delizia al limone makes for a perfect close to any Sorrento meal. It was invented by pastry chef and Sorrento native Carmine Marziullo in 1978, who in his long career spent in some of Italy’s most famous hotels and cooked for many famous people (including Eisenhower, for example). It is one of my favorite Italian desserts.
As mentioned above, the restaurant’s wine list is really quite good, and I drank very well my last time there. Tenuta Sarno makes one of Italy’s best Fiano wines from a slightly different terroir than most. The 2016 Tenuta Sarno Fiano di Avellino is a little less lifted and perfumed than usual, but it is still an excellent white wine that offers aromas and flavors of pear, apple and white flowers in spades. Better still is the 2015 Miani Chardonnay Zitelle, one of only a dozen or so Italian Chardonnays that are worth seeking out. While Italian producers do make great wines with Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, that is very rarely the case with Chardonnay. Most of Italy’s Chardonnays are neutral and uninteresting, while the more expensive ones are usually just hopelessly over-oaked. This is not the case with this wine from Enzo Pontoni, the passionate, inspired owner of Miani, in Friuli. This Chardonnay from old vines is layered and rich, with scents of pineapple, banana and pear, along with hints of butter and minerals. It is a subtle, complex wine that will only improve by spending a couple more years in a good cellar.
All in all, I greatly enjoyed my very relaxing time in the beautiful setting of the Terrazza Vittoria. I bet you will too.