La Sponda, Positano


A culinary love letter to Naples, Vesuvius & the Amalfi Coast


At first, it’s the view that fells you. Positano’s jaunty stack of houses and its iridescent church dome are so close you feel you could reach out and touch them. No wonder so many marriage proposals have been made here over the years. Of an evening, the soft glow helps, cast by hundreds of suspended candles that take an hour to light in the evening and almost as long to extinguish. But musicians Franco and Andrea have to shoulder their share of blame too, for making things so romantic. Their lilting guitar and mandolin melodies have melted many a heart.


Any chef will tell you that stunning backdrops like this are a challenge. But for La Sponda’s executive chef Gennaro Russo, that view, that music and what’s on the plate aren’t that different. All three are the result of centuries of patient symbiosis between man and the natural world. In a simple plate of pasta al pomodoro, a branzino grilled to perfection or a Neapolitan babà dessert so light and fluffy you can cut it with the side of a fork lie stories of viscounts and peasants, fishermen and princes, but also stories of rivers, forests and volcanoes, dry-stone wall terraces and patiently tilled kitchen gardens.


These days, so many restaurants bang a big drum about their ‘fresh, local and seasonal’ approach. Honestly, why would you eat any other way? Gennaro Russo has been doing fresh, local and seasonal since he first began to cook at home in Somma Vesuviana.

But it’s not enough just to find the perfect ingredients – you need to respect them too. The trick, Gennaro believes, is to listen to the land, to its culture, its produce, and then distil what you’ve learned to its purest essence. Any chef worth their salt can do ‘fancy’. The really difficult thing is to do simple.


La Sponda is open for dinner and lunch seven days a week.


“No wonder that so many marriage proposals have been made here over the years”