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September 15, 2019 | Rome, Italy
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Il Grottino

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Piazza Umberto I
Capri, IT-NA 80073 Italy

How can restaurant so lacking in the ostentatious — it’s just a neat, large room off a narrow street — be so strangely magical? Maybe it’s a case of vive la difference all’italiana. On an island of stunning vistas, this is a down home place that offers solemnity, quiet, calm, and very good food. Those simple virtues offset its lack of outdoor tables and breathtaking views. The Arbace family has managed Il Grottino for seven centuries and it hasn’t changed much since 1970, about the time restaurant shed its celebrity status — once upon a time the Kennedy family came here, as did Jacky O. and Ginger Rogers. It’s a quick walk from Piazza Umberto, serves Naples and Campania staples (gnocchi, fish, and many fine fried and can’t miss breaded mozzarellas). Some tourists find Grottino’s service aloof. Others cite arrogance. They’re a minority. In fact, it’s a stylish little remnant of a place that catered to a well-dressed, sophisticated “tourist” clientele, and suffers its absence with difficulty. Closed November-March. The restaurant is at Via Longano 9 — a street that leads from Piazza Umberto.

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