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Marina di Cantone Restaurants, Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast's insider take:

Most first-time visitors are too busy holding onto the back of the seat to notice the traffic signs on the spectacular Sorrento–Positano route. But if you head west rather than east at the watershed town of Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, a more rural side of the Amalfi Coast emerges, with villas grouped around small terraced olive and lemon groves and fertile market gardens. Beyond the pretty village of Nerano, the road drops to Marina di Cantone, a laid-back, slightly shabby, family-oriented resort with a long, thin sandy beach, which can also be reached by boat from Positano. Don't be fooled by appearances, though: Marina di Cantone has three of the best restaurants on the Amalfi Coast. The rather anonymous (not to say ugly) white building between the beach and parking lot houses the unmissable Taverna del Capitano (39-081-808-1028;; closed Monday and Tuesday lunch), a creative seafood place run by the Caputo family, with son Alfonso in the kitchen. Occupying most of a wooden jetty a little further along the beach, Lo Scoglio is the reign of Mamma Antonietta: The rich and famous yacht over from Capri to sample her spaghetti alle zuccchine, dripping with butter and cheese, and served with lashings of black pepper (39-081-808-1026, open daily). But it doesn't end there: Just up the Nerano road is Quattro Passi, where the best of the day's finny catch is paired with the terra firma side of the local culinary tradition, with vegetables from owner-chef Antonio Mellino's own garden (39-081-808-1271, closed Tuesday evening, all day Wednesday). The wine cellar—which burrows under the road you just drove down—needs to be seen to be believed (and Mellino will happily oblige). A few simple rooms on the grounds make for decent bivouacs if you can't face the drive back to Positano.

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