The old fishing village of Marina Grande in Sorrento is a hidden jewel, easily missed by travellers captivated by the heart of Sorrento; its main Piazza Torquato Tasso and Marina Piccola.
Those seeking solace from the bustle of tourists should take the 10 minute walk to Marina Grande, a working fishing port which has retained its rustic Italian charm. There’s a real sense of community with washing lines strewn from balconies and friends and families congregating by the beach.
It was mid-May and out of season which will have played a part in the slower pace of Marina Grande. The beach front is made up of cafes and fish restaurants selling the day’s catch and we sat with a coffee watching the boats bob up and down peacefully. Routine everyday life was going on around us; the fishermen sat out in the sun untangling their nets from the morning’s work and a school class of children were guided hand in hand across the square.
Here I discovered the most incredible restaurant I’ve come across in long time and a pleasure I have to share with you. Ristorante O’Puledrone stands out from other restaurants on the marina – it is understated, a discreet stone building with barn doors opening out onto the cobbled road, minimalist tables and chairs and a white board that read; “Fresh fish daily. This restaurant is owned by a group of fishermen. Please ask about today’s catch”.
It opened for the first time only five weeks ago and is a cooperative of 8 local fishermen who supply restaurants around the marina and nearby shops. The fishermen set sail at 5am each morning to fish off the Amalfi Coast, most commonly bringing home prawns, calamari, sardine, tuna, swordfish, clams and mussels, seabass and other white fish.
Gaetano, one of the fishermen in the cooperative, expressed that the industry has been suffering for up to five years and opening a cooperative restaurant, whilst it took 2 years to gain permission from the authorities, will help them to seek another form of income. When they bring the catch in each day their chef gets first pick of the fare before the remainder is sold elsewhere. This is literally the best fish in Sorrento.
I ordered mussels with spaghetti and it was exquisite, tossed in garlic, tomatoes and chilli with huge juicy mussels. It sounds simple but it is quite possibly the tastiest simple I’ve ever eaten. Mum ordered fried fish of the day, a plate full of an unidentified white fish fried in a very light batter. It is a fish very common off these coasts, in between a sardine and whitebait. It might have a name, but the language barrier prevented us from getting to the bottom of it. Again, it was absolutely perfect.
The meal was very reasonably priced and the only discrepancy was mum and I debating whose meal was more delicious. If I have any regrets, it was discovering this place on the last day. I’d have done almost anything to take Gaetano up on the offer to join them at sea the next morning…