A renowned terrace that finds balance in a warm welcome, overlooking the natural beauty of Amalfi. What's missing? The cuisine of the young chef Alessandro Tormolino, who, after experiences with Vissani, Colagreco, Iaccarino, and Locatelli, decides to highlight the products of his region.
When you say Amalfi, you say it all, and yet, of the entire Amalfi Coast, it remains the most visited and least truly known place. We are in the village that boasts one of the most successful commercial businesses in the Mediterranean's history and, despite owing its fortune to water as an element, it has never made the sea its primary attraction. A maritime republic strong in paper and iron, guardian of the relics of Saint Andrew, and proud to be at the center of the entire Coast as a destination, today Amalfi is a town bewildered by those who want to experience it without wanting to know it.
However, a silent comeback has been underway for some time, and what's surprising is not the sector leading it, namely the restaurant industry, but those Amalfitans at the forefront who show their resilience. Proud and visionary entrepreneurs are investing in elegant locations and culinary experiences, firmly elbowing their way into the massive confusion, delivering winning strokes of style.
One of these places is the happy combination of the Residence Hotel and the Sensi restaurant, a new Michelin star added to the jacket of Alessandro Tormolino, who ambitiously seeks to enrich the hospitality and gastronomic capital of their region.
The restaurant and the chef
The uniqueness of Sensi restaurant lies in its winding path, starting from the discreet entrance on the edge of the Cathedral's staircase to its terrace overlooking Amalfi, reached by crossing a marble room centered around a vertical light cascade, forming a Liberty-style staircase. A disorienting beauty that finds balance in a warm welcome. Spacious tables, ample distances, attentive but never intrusive staff.
Between the red moon rising from the sea and the terrace that overlooks it, the chaos of a street that other minds will eventually find a solution to remains. The dining room is overseen by Pasqualino Farnese, a person who masters the virtuous nobility typical of Neapolitan hospitality, a true guide in understanding an extensive and diverse wine list. Throughout the service, there are calm movements, smiles, and competences, as one would expect from a dining room.
On the menu, you can taste the hand and vision of Alessandro Tormolino, a young chef with experience in renowned kitchens such as Vissani, Colagreco, Iaccarino, and Locatelli. He decides to be part of a project that showcases his ability to work with the raw materials of his region. This is something I didn't hear or read about in interviews and biographies, but I discovered it by sitting at his table with high expectations.
There are five tasting menus at Sensi, with three variations in the number of courses (4, 6, and 8), while the others differ in their offerings, focusing on the great classics of the local tradition and plant-based dishes.
I personally chose the six-course menu, and the opening amuse-bouche is an explosive teaser for a documentary series on the creation of taste. The first step in the journey is Cod with lard and nori seaweed, Asetra caviar, citrus gel, carrot, and green curry sauce. A complex dish with Thai nuances, where the citrus explodes, and the spicy notes linger in the moisture of the blue fish fillet, thanks to a pleasant savoriness and a good fatty component.
Next on the table is the Rabbit with herbs, chickpea panisse, and tomato and blackberry chutney, a dish of tender white meat proud of its intense base, with a chutney of great cleanliness and gratification. If the previous courses introduced us to all the taste components, linked to a base of sweetness, the first courses start to tell the story of the great effort in creating even more delightful contrasts.
The Lemongrass Risotto with Amaro Roger infused scallop, juniper, tarragon, Amalfi Sfusato lemon, and katsuobushi is presented with a pleasing aesthetic texture and a script on paper that intrigues curiosity with ingredients that might seem daring in their taste intensity. However, as always happens in the best productions, the surprise is discovering a dominant bitterness that sets the rules and makes you close your eyes as you eat.
After the risotto (which I declare my favorite), the Spaghetti with caramelized onion, cuttlefish speck, chives, and samphire continues with another technical handling that surprises. In this dish, salinity dictates the pace of flavor, pushing the delicate smokiness of cuttlefish speck together with chives, while the caramelized onion, which you might expect to be overpowering, instead plays a delicate role, providing just the right amount of sweetness to adhere to the taste buds.
The second savory course is a conclusion in which research, technique, and taste come together to summarize what I've seen and tasted before. So far, everything has been aesthetically pleasing (and evident), while the Monkfish with Controne beans, black garlic, and salmoriglio sauce presents itself as a locked treasure shaped on the plate. Here, the chef has chosen lean and delicate meats, preserving well the sea's savory notes, placing them at the center of a strong earthy component softened by beans and enhanced with the notes of black garlic. A balance, made brilliant by the pungency of the misticanza (a type of salad), finely tuned with great technique, capable of both persistence and palate cleansing.
The dessert is the Soft Lemon with lemon sauce, meringue, and lemon-basil sorbet, a finale that leaves you satisfied by presenting three variations of the same element without forcing you to choose. Soft, creamy, crispy, and clean, this dessert characterizes an important symbol and returns it to those who want to savor its ultimate expression.
Citrus fruits are a constant throughout the menu, essential ingredients that, for chef Alessandro Tormolino, are not just synonymous with the region but active elements in controlling ingredients with a fatty and sugary base or, conversely, an earthy and slightly bitter nature, through an incredible management of acidity, savoriness, and aromatic persistence. Each dish is an harmonious geometric vision.
Beautiful Amalfi seen from here. A chef with great technique who meticulously develops his culinary vision with enthusiasm, an elegant dining room manager who harmonizes attentive yet unobtrusive service, and a support structure led by general manager Enzo Calaudi that makes hospitality the cornerstone of a cross-disciplinary project.
Sensi Restaurant and the Residence Hotel, together, are a combination of places and people who have decided to add value to a different Amalfi, one that is not just what you can admire from a terrace overlooking the waterfront surrounded by refined beauty, but also one you can experience by escaping the massive crowds. Because Amalfi and the entire Coast are much more than a mere checkpoint to cross.
Ristorante Sensi - Hotel Residence
Via Pietro Comite, 4, 84011 Amalfi SA
Tel: +39 089 871183