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Crazy for Buca di Bacco

Situated right “on the beach” in Positano, the restaurant is open and quaintly decorated and exceptionally clean. I was greeted with smiles and buonasera all around before I was quickly seated upstairs on the terrace.  The views from the terrace are breathtaking. From the beach-goers down below to city nestled between mountains and the expansive ocean ahead. Just a beautiful sight to see.

There was much to choose from on the menu from the zucchini blossoms stuffed with mozzarella to grilled octopus on burrata cheese to gurnard fish in “crazy water.” Have not had gurnard fish before so I googled it. From what I found it’s an ugly looking fish that is a bottom dweller. It’s a white meat fish that is bland tasting. Not the greatest description but since this is not regularly served where I’m from it did stand out in my mind as a contender for my entree.
The gurnard dish was noted as one of their specialties but they had a trofie pasta in a pesto sauce that caught my eye so I was torn as to what to order. I immediately made the decision that since I am on vacation I could have both.  Therefore, I started with a half order of the trofie pasta and as my main dish ordered the gurnard in crazy water. So, about this “crazy water.”  It’s the literal translation of acqua pazza. Big in this area of Italy and it refers to the lightly herbed broth with tomatoes the fish is poached in. This is going to be delicious…crazy water and all.
The pasta arrives and not only does the dish look perfectly plated, it smells so outstanding that my nose hairs proceed to dance. I dig in. The homemade pasta is cooked perfectly or should I say al dente. The pesto is bright and fresh and the dish is topped with sundried tomatoes and pine nuts. I take note of the sundried tomatoes because they added the perfect amount of saltiness, crunch and complexity.  I find out that these are not “canned” sundried tomatoes soaked in olive oil. No, these are fresh and made by the restaurant. Pesto is one of the simplest but most flavorful sauces – if done right. And this one is. You can not only taste the freshness of the basil but you can still see small pieces of it in the sauce. Not too cheesy but I can taste two cheeses, a pecorino and parmesan of which play off one another and add just the right amount of bite to the dish. Needless to say I polished it off.
For wine I ordered a half bottle of the Fidelis 2011 which is made from the Aglianico grape, native to the Amalfi region. Full bodied and resembles a good cabernet without all of the hefty tannins.
The gurnard dish comes out and it looks good. Really good. There are large chunks of gurnard surrounded by wedges of potatoes and a diaspora of shell fish ranging from mussels to cherrystone clams. The dish is plate licking delicious. The crazy water sauce had me tempted to pick up the dish, put it to my mouth and slurp out the remaining sauce.
Do I recommend, Hotel Buca di Bacco? Absolutely. If you happen to find yourself in Positano, its great for groups, solo travelers and the perfect spot for a romantic dinner because the views are outstanding.
Hotel Buca di Bacco
Via Rampateglia, 4, 84017 Positano SA

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