Positano Coast celebrates a decade in Old City—and toasts summer’s return—with a newly expanded open-air lounge.
Few dining establishments in Philadelphia convey such a true sense of place as Positano Coast. Where other themed restaurants undergo renovations every five or so years as a matter of course, Positano’s everyday allure reflects an unmistakable and unchanging nod to the Southern Italian coastline. The brilliant white tiles, azure-splashed murals, and sofa-strewn lounge call to mind a Mediterranean villa. Indeed, the striking décor feels just as contemporary as it did when Positano launched 10 years ago.
While the interior may never change, the menu is constantly evolving. “The flavors of our food are reminiscent of seaside dining in Positano,” says owner Aldo Lamberti, referring to the Amalfi Coast village after which the restaurant is named. “And our rooms are airy. They complement our food, which is light and seasonal.”
“Over the last 10 years, we have been fortunate enough to take part in Philadelphia’s culinary explosion.”—Rosita Lamberti
One key Positano Coast fixture is Executive Chef Regulo Reyes, who for more than 20 years has worked for Lamberti. (Lamberti’s restaurant group owns seven eateries in the region.) The chef’s mandate for summertime is to focus on all things fresh and healthy: Paper-thin crudos remain a staple (“We were one of the first to offer crudo,” says Rosita Lamberti, Aldo’s eldest daughter and his second-incommand) as do a variety of breads and heirloom tomatoes. Other classic menu items include grilled octopus with charred artichokes, sea urchin pasta with squid ink, and Aldo’s mussels with chorizo.
However, Reyes does have some new tricks up his sleeves, including a pristine roasted grouper, wrapped in zucchini and served with fava bean purée, and the insalata fresca: roasted carrots, shaved asparagus, and red frill baby mustard greens drizzled with Prosecco vinaigrette. On the other side of the menu, a creamy risotto sprouts snow, snap, and green peas. “We’re trying to source more local ingredients,” says Reyes, dicing a pioppini mushroom picked from a nearby Kennett Square farm just a few hours before. Indeed, Positano “has been committed [to localization] for the last 10 years,” says Rosita.
Before partaking in my own Medi-inspired feast, I first visit Positano’s popular Sopra Lounge. Located in the back of the restaurant and decked out with white leather couches, low tables, and white curtains, it’s a fitting setting to enjoy the fresh, seasonal drinks (most of which are adorned or flavored with herbs, fruits, flowers, or petals) created by the bar’s three expert mixologists. “This is the antithesis of the speakeasy bar: a modern, open-air, second-floor lounge,” says Rosita. “We’re hardly a hideaway.” With that, she floats three edible rose petals on top of The Belle Epoque, a fresh, lemon-y cocktail of gin and Perrier-Jouët.
Positano toasts its first decade with more open air, thanks to a patio extension, which is expected to add 20 seats and will offer the perfect view of Dock Street. “Over the last 10 years, we have been fortunate enough to take part in the culinary explosion that has taken place in Philadelphia,” says Rosita, whose father counts the years by summers. “This time of year is so enjoyable because we get to see our guests who maybe haven’t been with us since last season,” says the elder Lamberti. “People are so happy to be here when the weather is at its peak.” 212 Walnut St., Second Fl., 215-238-0499