After a long day of sun, sea, wind, and shopping, a dinner at the chic, mellow Next 2 is just what the doctor ordered. With its minimalist resort aesthetic—natural materials and clean, modern décor—and its creative menu of southern Italian small plates, this is one of my favorite places in Positano to unwind in the evening. Views aren't the main attraction here. Next 2 is located rather high up in town, and though it's an open-air place, you can't see much of the water or coast. What you do get, however, is what no other eating and drinking establishment in town has been able to replicate—an effortlessly hip yet intimate and friendly atmosphere, and a kitchen that turns out successful cucina rivisitata ("revisited" or creative cuisine) that, while artistically presented, never strays too far from the roots of time-tested Campanian recipes, and never enters the realm of "adventurous" dining (that is, no weird fish parts).
For an appetizer, you can't go wrong with whatever carpaccio and salad combo they've got on the menu, and the pastas—all made with traditional ingredients, but with more of a modern chef's touch—are exquisite. Try the paccheri with mozzarella and pesto. For a secondo, I'd die happy if the pan-fried squid with potatoes, garlic, and parsley were my last meal on Earth. Despite the cool vibe of the place (and the young, stylish crowd), staff are warm and unpretentious, and though portions are on the small side, the food is satisfying. Next 2 is about as far from folksy Neapolitan dining as it gets, yet somehow the place still manages to feel friendly and down-to-earth. It also works nicely as an aperitivo spot, opening at 6:30pm for those who perhaps just want a glass of prosecco and a light bite.