The small town of Positano sits on the Amalfi Coast in Campania, Italy. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Positano was a prosperous port of the Amalfi Republic. As the 19th century approached the town fell on hard times and over half of the populations immigrated to Australia. Positano was a poor fishing village in the early 20th century but the culture, food, and views of the coast and seas attracted tourist creating the town that exists today. John Steinbeck wrote an essay about Positano in 1953 that was published in Harper’s Bazaar. “Positano bites deep,” he wrote, “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
In this small town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, there is a luxurious hotel and restaurant, Il San Pietro di Positano. The restaurant serves the finest traditional, regional, and Italian haute cuisine. The Belgian born chef of Il San Pietro, Alois Vanlangenaeker, used only the best local ingredients found. Some of these ingredients are found on hotel property, such as the olive oil from the hotel’s own groves. Vanlangenaeker uses the ingredients to create exquisite dishes with delicious flavors. Of course, being in Italy, wine has a great influence and the restaurant and hotel wine list includes some of the best regional wines.
It is in this five star restaurant that Sam Moggio, chef of The Cellar in Daytona Beach, Fl, trained in the culinary arts. Chef Moggio creates delicious dishes with Italian and Mediterranean influences using the highest quality ingredients found in the area.
The restaurant in Daytona is located in the historic home of Warren G. Harding. The name of the restaurant is very telling as you enter through the side door of the home and descend downward into the dining room. The décor reflects Italian culture with photographs and artworks of Italian landscapes and cities. Sitting around a large round table, it truly felt like an Italian dining experience. There was a lot of good food, including Peperoni Imbottiti, Gnocchi Alla Bolognese, Ravioli al Mare, Avocado con Gamberi e Granchi, Risotta ai Porcini, Fettucini con Salmone Affumicato, Torta di Cicocolata, Frutti di Bosco, Torta di Pane and much more. The walls were covered with wine and the company was excellent.
The chef and his wife Lina, the hostess and wine expert, both came to the table to discuss the food, the wine, and the experience. It was a combination of the delicious food which was perfectly prepared and presented, the wine (of which there were many fine selections), and the atmosphere that made dining at The Cellar feel like a little bit of Italy in Florida