ABOVE: Nicola, the Santavenere Hotel's maitre
d', is one of the nicest men you'll ever meet. When I complimented him on his
sunny disposition, he replied: "I love what I do."
You won't find bland "Continental cuisine" in the Santavenere
Hotel's dining room. On the contrary: The hotel's menus have been planned in
consultation with leading chefs, restaurateurs, and wine experts as part of
Mondo Maratea's oeno-gastronomy project, which also influences the cuisine at
the Locanda delle Donne
Monache in Maratea's historic center.
The Santavenere Hotel has two restaurants:
Ristorante Il Carrubo, on the rocky shore of Punta Santavenere
below the hotel. This pleasant bar-restaurant has a sheltered terrace
overlooking the sea. It's accessible via a easily negotiable footpath with
railings, by chauffeured electric golf cart, or by a small boat from the Porto
di Maratea during high season.
Breakfast is a treat at the Santavenere. The breakfast
buffet has seasonal fresh fruits (including such exotica as tiny wild
strawberries), breads, local hams and cheeses, cereals, yogurt, eggs, and
homemade fruit preserves that put bottled jams to shame.
But the high point of the Santavenere's breakfast buffet is the
mouthwatering selection of pastries. (Can pastry chefs be canonized? I'd worship
in the Little Chapel of the Cream-Filled Cornetti any day.)
Instead of the limp apricot-filled croissants that most Italian
hotels offer, the Santavenere has freshly made croissants with jam, cream, or
chocolate fillings; cornets and rectangular pastries (my favorites) that are
bursting with pastry cream; chocolate- or cream-filled doughnut balls; fresh
sugar doughnuts; and even fruit tarts that look as if they belonged on a dessert
tray. All are served warm from the oven, with the last batch arriving from the
kitchen around 8:15 or 8:20 a.m.
Breakfast is also available in rooms, but--if you're a pastry
aficionado--you're bound to prefer the buffet.
Lunch and dinner in the main dining room are leisurely
meals, served by an attentive staff that will be happy to answer your questions
about the hotel's regional specialties and wines. I'd suggest ordering the day's
set menu, especially if it includes seafood. The Santavenere's chef is a genius
with fish, and you won't go wrong if you trust his judgment and that of his
brother, the sommelier.
The Santavenere's à la carte
menu varies from year to year; during my visit in the fall of 2002, antipasti ranged from
€11.40-15.50, pastas were mostly €12.20 or €13.20, main courses cost
€20.00-35.00, and the average dessert was €10.00.
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