Whether you're planning to visit Pompeii on a day-trip or book a hotel to stay longer, at some point during your visit, you'll probably need to grab at least one meal. During the two and a half days we spent in Pompeii, we tried out two restaurants, a cafe, and some street food. While most of the eatery choices in close proximity to the ruins are very touristy, some are better than others, and even good restaurants near the ruins may appear deserted for dinner since most tourists visit Pompeii only for the day. Here are our recommendations, ratings, and caveats of available eateries in Pompeii (the ancient ruins) and Pompei (the modern town):
For warm Italian service and delicious Italian cuisine, Hostaria Plinio will take care of your needs while in Pompei. From their crunchy bruschetta to rich lasagna, our taste buds couldn't get enough of their generous servings. On our first evening, we sampled their spaghetti alla carbonara and lasagna dishes, pairing them with half liters of chilled Peroni. What a meal. It was our first meal in Italy and set the bar high for the remainder of the trip. We returned to Hostaria Plinio on our third (and last) night in Pompeii, this time ordering pizza and spaghetti con carne. The pizza was bigger than the plate, and the spaghetti portions were also substantial. We waddled our way back to the hotel, completely sated.
This place appeared to be family-run and operated, and while our young server couldn't speak a lick of English (nor we a bit of Italian!), food is a universal language and communication proved to be no problem. On both our visits we ate in their beautifully appointed garden and enjoyed service that resembled the hospitality extended to friends more than a business taking care of patrons. Does it get any better than that?
Price range: $$
Appetizers: 4-5 euros
Pasta dishes: 7-10 euros
Meat dishes: 10-15 euros
Pizza: 8-10 euros
Alcohol: 3-4 euros (per glass or half liter)
Service: 5 out of 5
Bang for your Buck Value: 5 out of 5
Location: Less than a 10 minute walk from the main entrance to the Pompeii ruins (14 Via Plinio).
The Coffee House (Lucullo's Garden Bar)
Located in the same building as the Hostaria Plinio, we visited the Coffee House* on our second night in Pompei. After studying the menu posted on their garden wall, we finally went in and took a seat near a bubbling fountain. Although there was only one other family seated, it took nearly ten minutes before we were noticed and menus provided. The offered fare varied from paninis and pizza, to pasta and meat dishes. Having spent a long hot day under the sun in Sorrento, we settled upon a panini and an alfredo dish, paired with Peroni and a white wine purportedly grown on the slopes of Mt Vesuvius. We had no complaints with the food, but it was nothing special. The service was slow even by Italian standards. Danny ordered a second beer after his meal and twenty minutes later had still not received it, even though the waitress was standing in the doorway between the garden and restaurant, clearly not busy. When we were ready to ask for our bill (il conto, per favore), the waitress finally remembered to bring the beer, extending our dinner by another twenty minutes when we were desperately craving our pillows. Since Hostaria Plinio provided a better experience, both in terms of the food and the service, we would suggest giving the Coffee House a pass.
Price Range: $$
Service: 2 out of 5
Bang for your Buck Value: 3 out of 5
Location: Less than a 10 minute walk from the main entrance to the Pompeii ruins before you reach Hostaria Plinio (14 Via Plinio).
*We committed a travel blogger faux pas and failed to note the exact name of the restaurant. The Google street view from August 2012 indicates signs with "Lucullo's Wine Bar" but the TripAdvisor for a restaurant at that address is for the Coffee House.
|Not a picture of the actual cafe :)|
When it comes to soothing growling stomachs while within the walls of the Pompeii ruins, you have only one choice: the Pompeii Scavi Cafe. Since there is no re-entry into the ruins once you've left, if your time in Pompeii coincides with mealtime, you either must pack a lunch or spend your euros here. Like most eateries that have a monopoly control over their locale, the food is passable and the prices are steep for what you get. We indulged in two rather large pizza slices (three if you count the one that met an untimely end), a Coke and a few beers for only a little less than a sit-down meal at Hostaria Plinio. Survey the contents of the deli window, pay for your choice, then present your receipt to receive your food. This cafe is adequate for your needs but nothing more.
Price Range: $$
Service: 2.5 out of 5
Bang for your Buck Value: 2.5 out of 5
Location: Located just north of the Roman Forum within the ancient ruins. Convenient for a snack or light meal without leaving the site.
If you're desperate enough to eat here, you may as well just buy a bag of chips and wait for a real restaurant. We grabbed a slice of pizza and a panini from this street cafe attached to the train station after returning late from our excursion to Mt Vesuvius to catch a train to Naples and on to Rome. The pizza consisted of one pepperoni piece and a few crumbs of cheese on a half-baked, doughy mess; not even hunger was a suitable sauce. Granted, our pizza came from the hot plate deli case, so perhaps they have better fare when you actually sit down in the restaurant area, but I don't know that I'd give them another chance. I will say that the employees were very pleasant and engaging, but beyond that our experience could not validate a recommendation.
Price Range: $
Service: 3 out of 5
Bang for your Buck Value: 0 out of 5
Location: As you exit the station, it's to your right within the same building complex as the station.
While admittedly there are few solid restaurant choices near the Pompeii ruins. we would highly recommend the Hostaria Plinio establishment both for excellent service and delicious foods. And speaking of food... here are a few drool-inducing pictures from there!
|Massive pizza from Hostaria Plinio|
|Spaghetti con carne, also from Hostaria Plinio|
Have you visited the modern town of Pompei or the ruins at Pompeii? Any restaurant recommendations or caveats?
Linking up with Bonnie Rose and other travel bloggers for #TravelTuesday!
All places were visited between July 4 and July 7, 2014. All opinions are my own, and we received no compensation or incentive for these reviews.