This year, the Amalfi Coast property Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa reopened its doors for its tenth season – and to celebrate, it announced that it had a new Executive Chef at the helm. Alfonso Crescenzo now heads up the culinary offering across the property, including at the Michelin-starred restaurant Il Refettorio, the traditional eatery L’Antica Rosa and the Mezzogiorno Pool Café, placing an emphasis on locality and seasonality.

Here, the chef sheds some light on one of his signature dishes, La Sfera di Cioccolato.


What inspired the dish La Sfera di Cioccolato?
La Sfera di Cioccolato is a dish inspired by my land, which is the land of Tonda di Giffoni hazelnuts, but also by all the Italian southern territories and by some of my most important life experiences. Besides the fact that I love hazelnuts, chocolate plays a big part in my childhood memories – and Amarelli liquorice is a delicacy that I had the pleasure of appreciating, tasting and immediately including in my dishes during my work experience in Calabria. 

How is the dish made?
It is a sphere of hazelnuts, covered in dark chocolate. It’s served with a liquorice ice cream, hazelnut crumble, mixed berries and edible flowers.

Why is this dish one of your favourites?
Besides having its own unique taste, it is made of flavours and tastes that bring me back to my childhood; to a hazelnut grove where I used to spend my days with my family during the harvest. That grove is now part of my Farm, Terre Lavorate, and to me it smells like home.

Alfonso Crescenzo's La Sfera di Cioccolato

What personal touch did you put on this dish?
Unique tastes, persistence in flavours, and creativity.

Where do the ingredients come from?
Every single ingredient comes from our territory: hazelnuts from Giffoni (Salerno), Amarelli liquorice from Calabria, buffalo butter from Piana del Sele and fresh edible flowers from the beautiful Garden at the Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa.

What has the reaction been to this dish?
In one word: people think it’s delicious!

How do you see this dish evolving with the seasons?
Hazelnut is so rich in taste that it can be combined during different seasons with several different ingredients. We have a plentiful variety of fruits and elements that enhance its flavour, whether it is matched with sourness or bitterness.