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Pontone: Ristorante San Giovanni

Phone: 089.872582

Reviewed by: kaydee from TN, review #1615

When: 2005

Very good restaurant/pizzeria in the small village of Pontone above Amalfi. Beautiful views across the valley to Ravello.

Directions: Near Scala

Our family spent a week based in Ravello, living in a house hanging on the side of the cliff, the last house before the entrance to the beautiful Cimbrione.

We decided to eat at the Ristorante San Giovanni at the recommendation of our Slow Travel friends Wendyash and Ricardo. The restaurant is located in the small village of Pontone, across the valley from Ravello. Since driving is difficult on the Amalfi Coast, and because we do, we do, we do enjoy hiking, we decided to walk to Pontone. It was a drizzly and chilly Thursday near the end of May. We had to walk down into the valley and then back up again. The most interesting experience on the one-hour walk was our encounter with a herd of goats just as we were entering a tunnel on the narrow road. We heard the sound of bells and then a group of goats, about 20 of them, darted out of the tunnel toward us. Each goat wore a little bell, and we were delighted to see a couple of little kids. We have no idea where the goats were going, since there didn’t seem to be any easy access to pasture land and no goatherd anywhere in sight.

We climbed up the road in the continuing drizzle to reach Pontone and found the Ristorante-Pizzeria San Giovanni. The narrow road by the restaurant was being re-paved, and as we approached, a man carrying a tray of food crossed the wet cement on a wide board. The kitchen and indoor part of the restaurant are on one side of the street and the outdoor terrace is on the other side. We headed for the outdoor terrace.

The restaurant terrace had a great view of the valley looking across to Ravello, beautiful even in the drizzle. We had a perfect view of our little house clearly visible on the other side, and realized that every time we sat on our terrace, we were looking across to this restaurant. The owner indicated that several of the tables were reserved, but pointed us to a table for three. We arrived just past noon, and a group of six sat enjoying a meal at another table. A bit later an English couple arrived and were seated next to us. We found ourselves eavesdropping on the other group—five Americans (three women and two men) and one very talkative Italian speaking English very quickly. After a time it became obvious that he was the tour guide for the group and was very well acquainted with the restaurant and the owner. He ordered the food for the group and gave a detailed explanation of everything they were eating and drinking. He absolutely dominated the conversation. We did find out that this was a group off from a cruise ship, out for their day trip on the Amalfi Coast.

The prices were reasonable (€50 total for the three of us), and we ordered a lot of food. We had a liter of red wine, a bottle of water, and Kelly’s usual Fanta. They brought us a complimentary plate of bruschetta. Charley and I shared a plate of parma ham and mozzarella. Kelly and I shared pasta arrabitatia. Charley had a veal dish in a lemon sauce, a bit like saltimbocca. I had fried calamari. Kelly had a pizza that she shared. She was excited to find a restaurant that served pizza at lunch. We even had dessert.

We struck up a conversation with the two English people at the next table. They were staying in Amalfi and had taken the bus up to the village of Minuta and were walking down.

About the time we were finishing our main courses, the whole environment of our quiet little terrace changed ... not for the better, I’m afraid. The cruise ship group and their chatty guide had departed earlier, but now four other big tables filled up with Americans and their Italian guides.

Our meal was excellent and the view was truly spectacular. It was also fun to walk to a tiny village that was distinctly different than the "tourist" towns of the Amalfi Coast. The only negative of our meal was the fact that the terrace was completely taken over by the tour groups and their guides. It was all very noisy and confusing once they arrived. We were probably lucky just to get a table, since the groups obviously had reservations. We definitely recommend this restaurant, but suggest that you make reservations for a table right on the edge of the terrace. (And you might want to be sure that a cruise ship group is not going to be there that day!)

Reviewed by: colleenk from MA, review #1528

When: 2005

My favorite meal on the Amalfi Coast!

I am not sure if it was the beautiful hike to get there from Ravello, the lovely setting, the warm welcome or the most delicious focaccia I have ever tasted but this was one of my favorite dining experiences on the Amalfi Coast. The outside covered patio afforded lovely views of the stunning mountains but the inside dining across the street looked cosy too.

The meal began with the complimentary focaccia, which dipped in olive oil was truly divine. We could not help gobbling it all up even though we knew lots more food was on it's way to our table. We then had a caprese salad and mixed vegetable antipasti that were excellent, to be followed by a wonderful eggplant pizza and a spicy penne dish that was also delicious. We were too full for dolce but I had an expresso and the bill came with complimentary limoncello. The total bill was 33E and this included a bottle of water and a carafe of house wine. It was well worth the hike and I would go out of my way to eat there again if in the area.

Reviewed by: Wendyash from UK, review #873

When: 2004

Amalfi Coast Hidden Gem !

Directions: Look out for the sign on the way up to Ravello ... or get WalkAmalfi to send you his map to print out!

A small, simple, family owned establishment a short drive from Ravello with a very pleasant atmosphere and helpful hosts.There is a lovely outside terrace with good views across the valley to the sea.

The menu had a huge selection of pizzas, including some suitable for vegetarians. The one I had on our first vist was one of the best I've had anywhere.

The rest of the menu features fish and meat but no poultry and certainly the fish my husband had was vey enjoyable and top quality - but we never did find out what it was called !

We had melon and Caprese salad for starters and both were delicious. Desserts from a small selection are good. On our second visit we both ate fillet steak and once again this was top class; carefully prepared and served with an excellent salad.

We did not study the wine list but drank the house wine. The red was disappointing but the white was good. The host brought complimentary bruschettini to start the meal and then a tot of wonderful Limoncello to finish - both of which are very nice touches.

All in all highly recommended. Prices are at least one third less than you would expect to pay in a similar establishment in Ravello. I think we paid about 48 euros for both of us on both occasions, which included wine, water and coffee. We felt it a marvellous bargain as we each ate at least 3 courses.

The little village of Pontone is delightful - and so peaceful after the rigours of the Amalfi Coast. On the Saturday evening we were there music was being played in the Square performed by a very accomplished couple.

I don't think English is spoken but don't let this put you off. Book ahead as even though the evenings are quiet it is worthwhile as you can reserve your piece of fresh fish ahead as requested on the publicity.

The restaurant often serves walking parties at lunchtime so ring ahead of your vist to check availability for that time of day as well. We hope you like it as much as we did. Restaurant website

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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