Any time I read about Positano, a mysterious restaurant would always be mentioned – Da Adolfo. It almost became sort of a legend. The only info I could find about it was that reservations were hard to get and the food was to die for. But if you know me at all, then you know that a restaurant like that is right up my alley.
I knew Da Adolfo was in a difficult location, so I emailed our hotel concierge months before we left, and I asked them to secure reservations for us. Because of the time zone difference, it was hard for me to call the restaurant myself. The hotel replied that the restaurant wasn’t open yet (it’s open in the summer… and I was asking them this in February, my bad), but they would try calling them once they were open for tourists.
A few months went by, and I sent a follow-up email to the hotel concierge. Once again, he replied that he had tried to call them all day, but no one would answer. And of course, Da Adolfo doesn’t have an email address or any type of social media. Ok fine, we’ll try again when we’re actually in town.
Once we arrived in Positano, the first question I asked was about Da Adolfo. Could they try to get us reservations now? But yet again, after trying to reach them by phone all day, they had no luck. What is the deal? This restaurant isn’t expensive, or fancy, or in any magazines?? Why are they so difficult to get a hold of?
Finally, on our last day in Positano, I pleaded with the concierge to please try one more time. Lo and behold… they answered on the first ring! Reservation for two? For today? No problem. Meet them at the pier and make sure we get on the boat that they’re sending for us. Wait, what? A boat? Evidently, there’s no other way to access the cove that Da Adolfo is in. No roads, no cars. Only small boats.
We packed our beach bag (I was told they had beach chairs for rent), and headed for the pier. We spotted our boat right away… look for the red fish! After fighting a few other people waiting to get on the boat, our shirtless, barefoot boat captain sped away from Positano. A short ride later, we rounded a cliff and I could see it! The beach club looked beautiful… and so elite! No wonder it was so hard to get reservations here. But then, reality crashed down around me. We weren’t headed to that gorgeous beach club… we were headed to the shack on the right. Matt gave me an “are you sure about this?” look, and I did my best to appear like I had known this all along.
When we got off the boat, we headed straight for the beach chairs. The restaurant wasn’t serving food yet so we might as well relax next to the Mediterranean sea, right? Such a hard life.
Something still seemed a little off to me about how easily we got a reservation that morning after having tried for months. I sent Matt to verify that they had our names on the list. He was gone for quite a while and came back looking a little paler than usual. Our names weren’t on the list. I repeat, WE WEREN’T ON THE LIST. We rode this boat to the middle of literally nowhere and now we were stuck here with no Italian food. Apparently Matt told the manager of Da Adolfo that there was no way he was going back to tell his wife that we didn’t have a reservation. The manager laughed so hard and told Matt not to worry… they would TRY to squeeze us in once everyone else had been seated. This was a disaster.
As we watched everyone else’s name being called, I got a feeling of dread. This was going to be such a waste of a precious Italian day. And we would be hungry. This is NOT how my vacations go. I always have reservations. I always print off the confirmation of such reservation just in case the restaurant themselves have misplaced it. I’m never the person hoping for a table. I am not used to such laid back, willy nilly spontaneity. It was giving me anxiety.
After every person had a table, we were still left sitting on the beach. Matt peeped his head up over the railing and made eye contact with the manager. He had forgotten about us! Once he remembered, we were sat immediately at a crowded table right by the bathrooms. That’s ok… at least we had a table!
The menu was written in Italian on a chalkboard so we fumbled through ordering. I knew we were getting some type of fish and our waiter insisted we try their signature drink… white wine with fresh peaches.
I tasted one bite of our appetizer of grilled mozzarella on lemon leaves, and my anxiety melted away. I wasn’t mad we couldn’t get reservations. I wasn’t mad our hotel concierge lied. I wasn’t mad the manager forgot us. I just needed more of that mozzarella. It was so warm and chewy and had a perfectly charred taste from the grill. Something about it being grilled on the lemon leaves gave it such a different flavor… a little citrus and a whole lot of freshness. Oh, and don’t eat the lemon leaf.
The white wine with peaches was incredibly refreshing after lying on the beach. I don’t even like peaches, and we drank an entire pitcher.
The mussels in the tomato sauce were so flavorful… garlic-y and tomato-y. It went so well with our grilled fish and the zucchini pasta. All of the dishes had such simple ingredients, but the flavors were fantastic. I definitely did not expect all of this from a bunch of barefooted waiters serving at a shack on the beach. I love when I’m wrong and it turns out this way.
After stuffing ourselves silly, we took a nap on the beach and watched the ferry come and go.
Da Adolfo was the hardest restaurant to get to AND to get into. My only advice is to try to call them yourself to get reservations. I’ve read that they tend to answer their phone better in the morning (which is our middle of the night). If you can’t get reservations, you could always do like us and just jump on their boat anyways! Surely they’ll work you in, right?