Da Paolino: Capri's Iconic Dining Under the Lemon Trees

In the heart of Capri, amidst the serene beauty of the island's lush landscape, lies a dining gem that has captivated locals and celebrities alike for decades. Ristorante Da Paulino has been a mainstay of Positano, Italy for generations. Owned and operated by the same family since the 1960s, the restaurant started humbly by selling homemade wine and sandwiches to tourists.
"We're proud to continue the tradition our grandparents began of welcoming visitors to our home" says Michela & Arianna, the owner's daughters and co-owners.

A Legacy Rooted in Family Tradition

The story of Da Paolino dates back to the 1960s when Paolino De Martino, a farmer and fisherman, managed a garden and bowling green that became a popular spot for locals. Paolino’s wife would cook simple yet delicious meals for visitors, including notable writers and artists such as Graham Greene. This warm hospitality laid the foundation for what would become one of Capri's most cherished dining establishments.

In 1976, Paolino’ sons Vittorino and Lino, officially transformed the garden into a small trattoria with just ten tables. Over the years, the restaurant grew in popularity and size, retaining its charm and familial atmosphere. Today, Lino runs the restaurant with Vittorino’s daughters, Michela and Arianna, who have upheld the family’s commitment to quality and tradition.

Michela and Arianna sisters share the restaurant's origins in the late 1800s, when their grandparents would welcome visitors to sample the garden's produce and local wines. Over time, they added meals and began accepting payment to foster the growing tourism industry. This helped fund improvements like building a family home and expanding the business.

In the post-World War 2 era, the family welcomed American soldiers on leave who enjoyed the casual atmosphere. Word spread and more visitors arrived each season. The owners credit their uncle for joining and helping professionalize operations in the late 1960s. This allowed the multi-generational family to fully devote themselves to the growing restaurant business.

Today, Ristorante Da Paolino is renowned for its antipasti buffet, dessert room and seasonal specialties showcasing local ingredients. Speakers fondly recall famous guests like Leonardo DiCaprio dining anonymously with other patrons. "Leonardo was so down to earth, chatting with everyone like old friends. Moments like that remind us of our restaurant's impact beyond the food," says Michela.

Dining Under the Lemon Canopy

What sets Da Paolino apart is its enchanting setting under a canopy of lemon trees. This unique feature creates a magical dining experience that transports guests to a tranquil oasis, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. The soft glow of lights strung among the trees adds to the fairy-tale ambiance, making it a perfect spot for romantic dinners and special occasions.

Before it became a restaurant, the area was a simple garden where lemons and grapes were cultivated. The family decided to focus on the lemon grove, recognizing its potential to provide a distinctive and aromatic backdrop for their dining venue. Today, the lemon trees are not just a scenic feature but also an integral part of the menu, with many dishes incorporating the fresh, zesty flavor of the fruit.

Culinary Delights and Signature Dishes

Michela & Arianna notes "We want to share the flavors of Italy with more people while protecting what makes our restaurant special - the family atmosphere and connection to this community."

Da Paolino’s menu is a celebration of traditional Caprese cuisine, enhanced by the creativity and passion of its chefs. Signature dishes include the famous lemon pasta, the ravioli Caprese and tagliatelle al limone su carpaccio di gamberi rossi. Seafood lovers can indulge in the sumptuous seafood risotto, a testament to the island’s bountiful marine offerings.

One of the most talked-about features of Da Paolino is its dessert room, a paradise for those with a sweet tooth. Guests can choose from an array of delectable treats, including tiramisu, Torta Caprese (a chocolate and almond cake), and lemon profiteroles.

A Celebrity Favorite

Over the years, Da Paolino has attracted a host of celebrities, including Leonardo di Caprio, Jennifer Lopez, Steven Spielberg, and Mariah Carey. The restaurant's guest book is filled with dedications from stars who have dined there, adding to its allure and prestige. Despite its celebrity clientele, Da Paolino remains true to its roots, offering warm and attentive service that makes every guest feel like part of the family.
More than anything, we hope future generations of our family will find the same joy and purpose in this work that I have," Michela & Arianna adds. "This place is in our blood and I'm excited to see where it leads us next."
With a staff of over 70 during peak season and a loyal customer base built over decades, the family business has proven its ability to adapt while honoring its agricultural roots. Under the guidance of Lino, Michela and Arianna and subsequent generations, patrons can continue enjoying the magic of this special place for generations to come.
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