Staples of the Amalfi Coast’s culinary heritage and digestives have, over time, become excellences of the area.
Like any self-respecting territorial cuisine, Amalfi Coast cuisine is rich in certain uniquenesses that have shaped its gastronomic identity.
In addition to the dishes each municipality jealously preserves, liqueurs constitute the heritage of this ancient tradition.
From healing benefits to a symbol of local hospitality
Prominent among these is Concerto. This amber liqueur was conceived in the Royal Conservatory of St. Joseph and Teresa in Pucara, one of the 13 hamlets of Tramonti. A group of nuns gave birth to this harmony of flavors to care for the children and women they housed within the austere walls of the convent.
And it is precisely from this harmony of taste that the name Concerto is derived: a symphony of herbs, including fennel, licorice, cloves, nutmeg, edelweiss, and spearmint to which is added some infusion of bear and coffee that brand its flavor and color, making it darker.
Over time, the drink, initially created for curative purposes, has become one of the excellences of the coastal area. The Concerto’s recipe has been handed down from family to family from generation to generation. However, today, there are actual production stores, especially in Tramonti.
Excellent as a digestive, it is usually consumed at the end of a meal, both within the home and in the temples of local restaurants.
King of the tray of digestive liqueurs produced on the Amalfi Coast always remains limoncello, made from the rinds of Sfusato Amalfitano, the local yellow gold known worldwide.
With its alcohol content ranging between 20 and 30 percent and its bright hues, it is sipped after meals as an aperitif. It is used to make up the Lemon Spritz, one of the most popular cocktails among residents and tourists on hot summer evenings.
It is also used in the pastry industry to flavor desserts, ice cream, or, why not, fruit compositions.
As with the Concerto, limoncello production also occurs within the home, in local liquor factories and restaurants. The recipe is straightforward, and anticipation is always the main ingredient.
Lemon peels are left to macerate in pure alcohol, to which a syrup made from water and sugar is added. Once bottled, they set it aside for at least a month before tasting.
A twist to Fogliolino
At Pineta 1903, in addition to liqueurs belonging to tradition, one can end a meal by savoring and contemplating the taste of Fogliolino, a liqueur made with lemon leaves left to infuse.
The restaurant’s recipe is given to the contribution of Mariantonia, wife of Carlo De Filippo, owner.
“When I started making it,” De Filippo says, “I used to make customers taste it without telling them what ingredients it was made of. Every time, everyone would bring up wacky things that had nothing to do with the real composition of the ingredients.”
A strategy that was later, for different reasons, discontinued. “The traditional recipe for Fogliolino,” De Filippo explains, emphasizing the product’s evolution, “usually makes it very bitter. And only the extraordinariness of a female mind and palate, my wife’s, could find a way to remedy this. The secret is replacing the lemon leaves every 24 hours with new ones. This way, the leaf will discharge with the infusion only the aromatic part and not the bitter part. A small innovation changed the recipe’s taste inscribed in tradition.”