Locanda Positano Brings a Bit of Italy to LafayetteMar 11, 2018 11:44AM ● By Fran Miller
BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER
Feeling the lure of the Italian Riviera, but an overseas trip is not in the offing? Lafayette’s new Locanda Positano can help quench your Amalfi Coast thirst, if only for an hour or two. While this newest addition to Lafayette’s ever expanding downtown restaurant scene might not perch above the Tyrrhenian Sea as its namesake coastal town, it does offer a seaside aura that charms and transports, as well as authentic dishes as only an Italian mamma can make.
That mamma is Carmela, owner Enzo Rosano’s Naples-native mother who ventures to the states occasionally to oversee the kitchens at Rosano’s two restaurants – Locando Ravello in Danville and now Locanda Positano on Brown Ave. where Rosano has transformed the former home of Artisan Bistro. He opened the dining room by removing a few constraining walls, added seashore shades of blue, turquoise, and sunny yellow, and expanded the outdoor patio to an all-season, twinkle-lit pavilion of coastal allure. An image of Positano flanks the dining room’s central tiled fireplace, and an entire wall in the dining room’s corner nook (where a spectacular aquamarine Murano glass chandelier dangles overhead) features a mural of the fabled town. A soccer-tuned television hangs over the small central bar, and rounding out the authentic Italian vibe is Rosano’s friendly staff, of whom 80% are Italian natives. One in particular is known for spontaneously belting-out an aria now and again.
Mamma Carmela’s specialties include her famous meatballs with tomato sauce and crostini, Gnocchi Della Mamma with fresh mozzarella, tomato, gorgonzola, or pesto sauce, and a traditional veal Bolognese lasagna. But Enzo is no slouch himself in the kitchen. The youngest of nine, he learned to cook at a young age and ultimately attended culinary school in Verona. Wanderlust brought him to America where he helped open Half Moon Bay’s Mezza Luna in 1998, Aqua Pazza in San Mateo in 2006, the original Locanda Positano in San Carlos in 2011, and Locanda Ravello in Danville in 2015. In addition to Mamma Carmela’s offerings, Rosano’s menu features a great selection of salads and antipasti (try the Beet Salad with arugula and soft, creamy, balsamic-drizzled burrata, or the simple Wild Smoked Salmon with fennel, lemon, olive oil, and crostini), thin crust pizzas, hearty pastas, and four ‘secondi’ items including Enzo’s Favorite Branzino, Maiale Brasato (braised pork medallions), Eggplant Parmesan, and Pollo Milanese (breaded organic chicken breast on a bed of eggplant parmesan). Portions are plentiful and flavors are delicious. An ample wine list features Italian and California favorites. And your meal is not complete without an after-dinner house made Limoncello digestif. Yum.
The congenial Rosano views his restaurant as an extension of his own home, and he and his staff welcome guests with warmth and familiarity. His hope is that patrons return again and again and that Locanda Positano becomes a local ‘go-to’ favorite. With its welcoming ambiance and delicious menu offerings, it seems Rosano is on track to bring that hope to fruition.
Locanda Positano: 1005 Brown Avenue, Lafayette
Lunch and dinner, Tuesday thru Sunday, 11:30am – 10:00pm
Reservations via Yelp, or call (925) 310-4337