Oliviero, Villa Sant Andrea, Taormina, Sicily 16/20


TAORMINA is a special form of modern tourist hell, an entrapment of coaches on a one way system on top of a hill, a ghetto of shopping malls filled with euro-tat mostly probably made in Asia, redeemed only by its ancient amphitheatre which is of course why everyone comes…There is another Belmond hotel in the town itself, but this seaside offshoot is at the foot of the resort, out of the way on the beach, on the Nazionale itself. Belmond is a luxury hotel chain for which I do not hold a particular candle but this is that rare thing, a combination of casual and expertise, a lunch on a terrace without all the trimmings and fuss, a beach trattoria par excellence, if you treat it as such. The menu on the web site has no prices, it is that kind of place, but the head chef Salvatore Gambuzza has a good understanding of modern ideas – there is even an amaranth pie or a quinoa and potato soup for the Honestly Healthy crowd, also caesar salad with prawns for the conservatives. He is a cook who thinks.

This was a stunning rendition of a local dish: IMG_0039usually it is made with dried broad beans which are cooked down to a mush, and then seasoned with a few fennel fronds, known as Maccu, it is a spring dish to use up the last of the stores mixed with the first green shoots, but here it is fresh broad beans drizzled with a soft ricotta and laced with the greens, an artisanal masterclass. Other dishes were equally of a level…

You sit on the terrace by the sea, the sun shines, you are cosseted…and the cost of lunch was less than you might think, although at dinner it might be different. Belmond – a global collection of now 46 iconic luxury, is how they describe themselves, which should make the bel ring, financially speaking.

Oliviero, Villa Sant Andrea Via Nazionale 137, Taormina, Sicily Italy 98039 

39 (0942) 6271200, Email: reservations.vsa@belmond.com


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