Boutique Hospitality Where to Eat in Italy Tradition and Elegance

Punta Imperatore: The Centenary Lighthouse Where You Can Sleep and Enjoy Gourmet Dining in Ischia

Fulvio Marcello Zendrini
copertina faro punta imperatore

It Hosted Italy's First Female Lighthouse Keeper and Now Houses a Boutique Hotel with 4 Rooms, Plus the Gourmet Restaurant Named in Her Honor. Punta Imperatore Lighthouse is a Must-Visit Destination on the Island.

The story 

Lighthouses are mythical places. True, profound myths. They are mythical because they are beautiful. They are mythical because they are pure. They are mythical because they defy the winds and waves. They are mythical because they stand alone and unreachable. But above all... they are mythical because they represent light, salvation, freedom.

faro punta imperatore 2

And Lucia Capuano did a noble deed when she lost her lighthouse keeper husband at Punta Imperatore Lighthouse in Forio d'Ischia. She continued the work of her husband, alone with her children, becoming Italy's first and perhaps only female lighthouse keeper. For years, she lit, repaired, and cared for this wonderful lighthouse as if it were her own, her nest, her cub's den. Lucia's story may be romanticized, but that doesn't detract from the tale being woven here. And above all, it doesn't diminish the wonder one feels when descending the endless stone staircase that leads us to the lighthouse itself. And to the Lucì restaurant. A name chosen for the restaurant in honor of Lucia Capuano, Italy's first female lighthouse keeper.

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And if we've descended this never-ending staircase of living stone, it's to return and savor the cuisine of Antonio Monti, a true Ischian chef, the son of island restaurateurs, with experience on the mainland, including Enrico Crippa of Piazza Duomo in Alba and Mauro Colagreco at Mirazur in Mentone, among others.

Antonio Monti

We sit outside, with the sea breeze finally refreshing us on this hot evening, and we begin our journey... 

faro punta imperatore Team

The dishes 

The menu has an almost martial title: Mediterranean Tensions. The bread is from Elio Romeo, with flours from Antonio Pellegrino's Monte Frumentario; the Incipit olive oil is from Marco Rizzo. And it all starts with an Ischian tradition, a historical dish by Antonio, U’ cala cala, a reinterpretation of the bargain that took place between Procida and Ischia, exchanging sea and land products. Various vegetables cooked individually in different ways and raw, all with pollen’s garum, zampognari beans miso, raw palamita ham, marinated mackerel, fried anchovies, herbs seasoned with honeydew vinaigrette, natural flowers and herbs, snail eggs, fresh pollen.

Antonio Monti Cala Cala 2 2

The hands in the dish belong to Antonio Monti's father, the chef, and all the vegetables come from Ischian farmers. The ingredients are numerous and change daily: raw palamita ham, marinated mackerel or sea bream, fried anchovies, eggplants, chicory seeds, basil seeds, yamato cucumber, dragon carrot, jibai shimoshirazu cucumber, kentaki carrot, various zucchinis, radishes, potatoes, green beans, onions, friggitelli peppers, lupins, artichokes, local fava beans in oil, beets, miso of zampognari beans, cherry tomatoes, red-green chard, rhubarb, chicory, Greek chicory, nasturtium, curly endive, butter lettuce, oak leaf lettuce, white lollo, red lollo, lovage, red mustard, tatsoi, mizuna, Russian cabbage, wild rocket, dandelion, angelica, spigariello, strigoli, oyster leaf, mushroom herb, ice plant, five-leaf herb, shield sorrel, artemisia, native oregano, spicy oregano, Neapolitan basil, red basil, pineapple sage, asperula, cumin leaves, Our Lady's herb, St. John's herb, fermented caper leaves, green mustard leaves, beet sprouts, tarragon, citronella, coriander, parsley, pimpinella, hazelnut geranium. Nasturtium flowers, anise flowers, cornflower, violet flowers, electric flower, begonia flowers, carnation flowers, primrose flowers, broom flowers, chamomile flowers, calendula flowers, tagete flowers; Extra Long Yamato Cucumber, Dragon Carrot, Jibai Shimoshirazu Cucumber, Kentaki Carrot.

Antonio Monti Cala Cala 2 1

Do you understand the work behind it??

Following as the second course is "Sara": Steamed glazed cod with its Pil-Pil, lemon curd, candied and fermented lemons, rose kombucha. This dish is dedicated to Antonio's girlfriend, Sara, who one evening discovered with Antonio that she really liked cod prepared in a certain way, contrary to what she had always thought. Especially when it's presented with lemon curd and rose kombucha.

Antonio Monti piatto Sara 2 2

The meal continues with "Anzalat e Pummarola": Marinated and grilled tomato salad, various tomato textures - candied, confit, cooked in lime, dried, raw, sautéed, seasoned with roasted tomato preserve, tomato water fermented with mixed herbs, raw onion, roasted tomato waste chips to remind of the attached part of the pan sauce. This dish is a poem. A hymn to the most Italian vegetable, even if it's not of native origin.

Antonio Monti A nzalat e pummarol 2 2
Antonio Monti A nzalat e pummarol 2 1

The dinner goes on with "U' zamp' gnar": Zampognari beans with aged bean miso, wild herb pesto, wild fennel broth, wild fennel oil, pickled fennel flowers, bean tempeh. The Zampognari bean, now a Slow Food presidium thanks to the tenacity of the farmer Filippo Florio, is known on the island as the black gold of the Campagnano lands. The curious name refers to the shape of the legume, which, during its growth - winding around the stalk - brings to mind the laces of the zampognari's shoes. Some believe that the name is due to the fact that the beans are eaten dried during Christmas festivities, or because when they are cooked, they take on the shape of the bagpipes. This variety, with its dark, reddish color and small white streaks, remains crunchy even after three hours of cooking.

Antonio Monti U Zamp gnar 2 2
Antonio Monti U Zamp gnar 2 1

Then there's "D'o pullast' nun si jett' niente": Chicken stomach, heart, liver, and comb salad, sautéed nettles, garlic and chili, yolk ponzu sauce, crispy chicken skin. Like with pork, at the Monti household, nothing is wasted when it comes to chicken, and the chef's mother used to make soups using every part of the animal. That's where this salad comes from, made using everything that is usually discarded. Stomachs and combs are cooked long under the ashes and then cut into julienne strips, the heart and liver are lightly seared over an open flame, and with the boiled and blended skin, you get a crispy chip that will be the crunchy part. Nettles are added because a not-too-invasive vegetable note was needed, and because chickens love nettles and hay, which is used as a powder at the end of the dish. Finally, everything is served with a typical Japanese ponzu sauce, to which yolk is added to make it silky and fatty while achieving the right acidity to cleanse the palate.

Antonio Monti la parte migliore del pollo

More chicken, the best part of the chicken: Glazed wing with its fifth quarter and escarole kimchi. The wing is the increasingly popular part at the table: deboned and marinated overnight with a "rub," slowly cooked confit, and roasted on the grill. Usually, chicken is served with green salad, so Monti decided to add a strong-flavored vegetable; thus, a classic Korean kimchi was prepared, but with escarole, to add important acidity and spiciness to the dish. As for the sauce, to avoid wasting the wing bones and chicken offal that cannot be used in the previous dish, a classic "chicken jus" is prepared with all the offal previously drained and cooked with garlic, oil, thyme, and port. And now, Chase Your Dreams: Half-cooked amberjack in a salt crust, potato mayonnaise, lemon sauce, and leaves. Perhaps, with the tomato salad, the winning dish of the evening. Amberjack, cooked in a salt crust with a heart thermometer so as not to overcook it; then, potatoes in the form of mayonnaise are added, and a sauce is made using all parts of the lemon - leaves, peel, pith, juice, all flavored with cardamom. To finish the dish, a soup of purslane, a typical wild salad, for a light bitter note. And now... 'A speranza è l'urdema a murì: Oxidized lettuce, black lettuce cream, sea lettuce sauce. 

antonio monti a speranza e l urdema a muri

A dish dedicated to pollution in the world, the slightly blackened lettuce, previously cooked in the Ocoo, a kind of modern pressure cooker, and then aged in its own cooking water for a week to intensify its flavor; it is "finished" on the grill until the desired browning is achieved. The dish evokes air pollution, hence air tainted by toxic waste, and drought. Next to the lettuce, there is a black sauce made from all the scraps of the lettuce itself, including the root and vegetable charcoal, plus a pinch of Carolina Reaper, a wonderful Mexican chili, for a spicier taste. The green sauce on the side is made with other "scraps" obtained from grilling the lettuce with the addition of sea lettuce to enhance saltiness and give the dish a greener tone. And here comes "Like a Pepper Salad": Risotto cooked in milk, pepper juice, roasted pepper sauce, parsley, and garlic. After cooking, the risotto is creamed with buffalo butter and Parmesan, to achieve a sensation almost like mozzarella, while the pepper is processed in two ways: in the form of a vegetable jus, by flame-roasting the peppers, covering them with water and reducing them to the desired consistency, and also with roasted peppers seasoned as tradition dictates, vacuum-sealed for several weeks to intensify the flavor, then passed through an extractor to obtain a sauce. The dish is finished with a parsley sauce and caramelized garlic powder.

Sale del faro punta imperatore

'O vino cu 'a percoca: Ginger-matured peach, 9% Vol peach wine. In Naples, as in many other places in Campania, it is a tradition during the summer to bring to the table the "do-it-yourself" aperitif, the classic "vino cu 'a percoca" (peach wine). Monti transforms it into a pre dessert, with a two-week maturation in a ginger solution. The peaches are then fermented like a classic white wine, adding chardonnay tannins, acidity, and yeast. The must is fermented for two weeks, decanted, and then undergoes a second fermentation to achieve a still "wine." Peach powder is added during plating.

Antonio Monti O vino cu a percoca

And now, the dessert, Alveare: Pollen ice cream, bitter orange marmalade, caramelized white chocolate cream, honey meringue, and mead. The tasting menu begins with "U' cala cala,'' then explores the world of bees with pollen, and always ends with this world, in a sweet version, using everything produced by bees: pollen ice cream, a frangipane with beeswax-infused butter, honey meringue, caramelized white chocolate cream with a few drops of propolis to balance the sweetness, and black cardamom for some woody notes. At the base, there's bitter orange marmalade and lemon zest. Now, you might say... it's not possible. 

Barman faro punta imperatore
Il barman del Faro

Well, yes, it is. Antonio Monti has led us hand in hand into the world of myth, history, and traditions of this island and this land. He walked with us to gather herbs and inspirations, breathed in the sea breeze, worked with culture, intelligence, and technique. The result is that even the ascent, the thousand steps to return to road level, felt light, pleasant, sweet, and kind. I don't know if it was Lucia's enchantment that struck us. I don't know if the lighthouse lights hypnotized us. I don't know if the sea breeze won us over. Nevertheless, we want to stay here, in spirit... We want to stay in one of the 4 rooms under the Punta Imperatore Lighthouse lantern, in Forio.

Fabio Mattera
Fabio Mattera

We want to stay with Antonio Monti at the LUCI' restaurant, and with his team, starting with his Sous chef Gianni de Vita and the Chef de partie: Antonio Sbrogna and Antonio Barretta. And the Maître Antonio Bernasconi, and the Chef de rang Jacopo Donadoni. And with those who served us bubbles and cocktails on the rooftop, amidst the rotating lantern, the setting sun, and the rising moon, Vincenzo d'Ambrosio. We want to remain with Fabio Mattera, the Director, who kindly and skillfully told us the story of the Lighthouse. But above all, we thank HER, LUCIA, with her secret, inhospitable yet wonderful place at the same time. We want to see her light the lighthouse lantern every evening and forever. Because, for each of us, a lighthouse is important, it guides us, calls us. And it makes us look towards the sunset.

Antonio Monti Aperitivo


Faro Punta Imperatore

Via Costa, 135, 80075 Forio NA

Tel081 1818 1391


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