September 2, 2014

An OU Glatt Kosher Restaurant Oasis in Southern Italy Thrives

CAPRI, ITALY — It is perhaps the only kosher establishment in Southern Italy and in a setting that is unique anywhere in the world. Located in the 5- Star Capri Tiberio Palace, the restaurant overlooks the breathtaking views of the mountains and the harbor below. Accessible only by an extremely narrow street lined with many boutique shops, the restaurant is under the supervision of the Orthodox Union, with a mashgiach temidi (full time mashgiach), an Orthodox woman from Sicily.

Executive Chef Francesco De Simone appeared to be extremely enthusiastic about his genuine Italian and Mediterranean dishes, made mostly from locally grown produce and imported meats. Both he and General Manager Francesca Tozzi lament about some of their difficulty in securing quality kosher meats, currently mostly imported from Milan and Paris. They are actively looking for such products as sirloin, quality chocolate and good margarine. But despite the difficulty of getting these products to Capri, the food is a culinary delight and on an average Shabbat in the summer, the two-year old restaurant serves 40 dinners at each meal, headlined by some of the best salmon and sea bass, an assortment of fresh salads, and beef and poultry that is treated with spices and herbs of some of the best Italian dishes. Chef De Simone is also proud of the fact that all baking, reflected in the tasty challahs and desserts, is done on premises. And then there are some of the award-winning kosher wines from Italy.

The Capri Tiberio Palace is a beautiful boutique hotel of approximately 50 rooms and suites that is anxious to attract more kosher travelers. Ms. Tozzi is eager to please the kosher vacationer and is actively pursuing many new ideas, including establishing a minyan (at least on Shabbos) and even installing key locks in the rooms to accommodate the Orthodox vacationer. It proudly displays an OU poster at its registration desk and for people staying in this exclusive hotel on a cliff, there is the added benefit of having a kosher breakfast either in the kosher restaurant or as part of room service. The hotel is owned by Eduardo Safdie, an Argentinean Jew who became a real estate mogul in Italy/ He currently lives in Rome. When asked whether this OU glatt kosher restaurant was one of the world’s best kept kosher secrets, Ms. Tozzi smiled “less and less so every day.”