In 1903 Bar Pineta opened its doors in the small Amalfi Coast village of Maiori. Also known as the Lemon Garden, this fixture in Maiori, Italy only knew two owners, Luigi, then his son, Lelo. This past winter Lelo decided to sell and Amalfi Coast resident, Carlo De Filippo jumped at the chance to own this historic restaurant.
NEW LEASE ON LIFE: Massive Renovation Project
In April 2015 Carlo completed the sale and immediately got to work on the renovations. Only the original floor remained. Workers gutted the walls, the kitchen and completely replaced the electrical system. Carlo says despite the massive project, his biggest challenge came from local residents. ““All the people in Maiori expected that I would take this place and reopen in one week in the same way”.
Everyone asked ‘When are you open, when will you open?” Incredibly, Carlo and his crew managed to finish restorations and open in just 3 months. “This was a very big challenge for me.” Carlo explained, “This restaurant is very big and full of history. It was a big and expensive investment. My wife told me that I was crazy.”
GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION: New Name and New Look
On the evening of July 15th the newly named “Pineta 1903” re-opened its doors. Carlo, his staff and family greeted anxious residents and tourists.
Chef Giuliano Donatantonio prepared complimentary samplings of fried seafood and vegetables, Matteo Somma served up fresh pizza slices from his wood oven, and everyone quenched their thirst on prosecco or juice. Guests instantly noticed big changes upon entering the bar area.
Walls now feature bright new wallpaper and circular designs with modern décor. Just past the bar is the pizza oven.
Carlo has decorated this area with new red tables and two flat screen televisions. He hopes this area will serve as a local pub, where visitors can grab a pizza and beer while watching sports. But one area Carlo refused to change, and with good reason, was the lemon garden.
Just up the stairs past the pizza oven this elegant and whimsical dining room has enchanted diners since opening in 1903. Carlo explained that maintaining this historic garden took top priority. “Luigi, (the original owner) loved lemons. He took care of the garden all day”.
CHEF GIULIANO DONATANTONIO: New Menu and Five Star Flavors
Joining Carlo on this new venture is Chef Giuliano Donatantonio. Chef Giulianno cooked previously for 4-Star Hotel, Villa Romana in Minori. Together Carlo and Chef Giulianno created a new menu that would stay true to the flavors of the Amalfi Coast.
Carlo handled the pizza and sandwich menu while Chef Giulianno created new cuisines highlighting fresh ingredients. “When you come to the Amalfi Coast you expect high cuisine, but traditional cuisine” says Carlo. He gave his chef free reign to craft a menu that would stay true to this concept. More than two dozen cooks work for Chef Giulianno in his kitchen.
He insists all ingredients come from the Amalfi Coast and are fresh. Seafood served at lunch and dinner must be caught that same morning. Cheeses, fruits, vegetables and herbs can only be made and grown in the region. A graduate of a cooking school in Salerno, Chef Giulianno has spent almost two decades cooking in Amalfi Coast kitchens.
I sampled his fresh cod with julienne vegetables during our visit. The perfectly cooked fish was moist, delicate and tasted of rich Mediterranean flavors. After our lunch Chef Giulianno treated Spencer and I to a tour of his newly designed kitchen.
CHANGES ARE COMING: What’s Next for Pineta 1903
In the coming months you can expect to see even more changes at Pineta 1903. Carlo plans to move his Tobacco shop into the bar area. “I am still waiting on authorization, but expect to open in two to three months.” The lemon garden dining room may also be covered during the winter months. The pizza oven will no longer be closed on Mondays during the summer months and the coffee bar will now open at 7:00 each morning. Carlo hopes these changes along with the new menu and new look will be Pineta 1903’s recipe for success.
Address: Corso Reginna, 53, 84010 Maiori, SA, Italy
Phone: +39 328 881 5393
Hours: Daily 7am-1am