When Lamberti Hands You Lemons...

If Marisa Tomei scouring the cobblestone alleys and piazze of Italy’s Amalfi coast for true love in Only You makes you swoon, you’ll fall in love with Aldo Lamberti’s Positano Coast faster that you can say ‘Damon Bradley.’ The second-story Old City aerie recently unveiled Sopra, an open-air lounge of marshmallow daybeds, floating lanterns, gossamer curtains, lime and lemon trees sprouting baby fruits, and pillows blue as the Mediterranean. Murals of the tiny seaside city for which the restaurant is named cover the walls, all twisted stone perched precariously on a green mountainside, as if the faintest breeze would send the town tumbling down to the sea. It’s romantic, for sure, but bad food has the way of killing the mood at even the prettiest restaurants. Fortunately, Positano Coast’s menu of Italian small plates (crafted by consulting chef Daniel Stern of Gayle and Rae) is both fresh and memorable. Seafood especially shines. Iridescent jewels of raw black bass sparkle with finely chopped chives and orange zest. The easy sweetness of razor-thin mahi-mahi crudo is balanced by fragrant nuggets of smoked mozzarella, the earthy salinity of sea salt, bitter radicchio, and lush extra-virgin. Sea urchin and crabmeat punctuate linguine dyed black with squid ink, and a cherry pepper-cream cheese stuffing elevates this fried calamari to another plane. The kitchen shows a deft touch with pasta, all cooked to a toothy al dente bite, and meats, as well, in a crisp veal parm and charred strip steak is enriched by a stroke of hearty Bolognese. The antipasto plate with mozzarella bocconcini, roasted red peppers, prosciutto di Parma, mixed olives, and grape tomatoes that burst like water balloons is fresh and flavorful enough that we actually thought for a second that we were in Italy. Not to be missed is Postiano’s homemade limoncello. Get the creamy version, way unlike the bracing highlighter-yellow goo served up at some South Philly trattorias. Go for either limoncello blended with lemon-infused vodka and garnished with a fragrant lemon leaf in the Positano Lemon Drop, or by itself on the rocks, where it’s impossible not to appreciate the pale yellow liqueur’s silky feel and refreshing balance of sugar and citrus. Need a trip to the Amalfi Coast in a pinch? Whip up a bottle with this recipe from Saveur magazine. To match the creamy texture of Positano Coast’s limoncello, just replace water with heavy cream. Enjoy the fruits of your labor on the rocks, straight up, or in a Lemon Water Ice, recipe below.

Lemon Water Ice
2 parts limoncello
1 part vodka
2 parts sweet-and-sour mix
Shake ingredients together and strain over crushed ice for a R-rated twist on a South Phily favorite.

Photo: Postiano.com, Olive Garden

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