/Puglia Wrap Up, Where and What to Eat

Puglia Wrap Up, Where and What to Eat

Church of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae, Santa Maria di Leuca
Church of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae, Santa Maria di Leuca.

I always hesitate to do these wrap ups because they force me to reflect on the obscene amount of food I am capable of eating. I especially overdid on a three day trip to Puglia recently. It is my favorite Italian region for food and it would be a shame to squander even a single culinary opportunity, so I binged on indulged in these pugliese specialties: pezzetti e involtini di cavallu, pasticciotti, mustaccioli, fave e cicoria, burrata, gamberi rossi di Gallipoli, pane di Altamura, focaccia, tieddhra di cozze e patate, cozze pelose, taralli, turcinieddhri, ricotta, capocollo di Martina Franca, orecchiette con cime di rapa, cavatelli con pomodoro e ricotta scante, panzerotti, canestrato, la giuncata, rustici, polenta fritta, crocche di patate, purpu alla pignata, and granita di gelso nero. Holy shit now wonder my skin is feeling taut. If you, too, wish to shorten your lifespan in Puglia, here are some places to do it:

Di Cosimo, Bari
Panzarotti deep frying at Di Cosimo.

Di Cosimo: Pizza and u’ panzerrott’ (pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella and tomato sauce and deep fried) are the specialty at this Bari landmark. Queue up for take out or wade through the crowd and find a table in the side room. Via Modugno Giovanni 31, Bari.

Take Five: This may be a sacreligious, but after a few days in Puglia I need to detox. A salad or two does the trick but they aren’t so easy to find. A cocktail and wine bar in Piazza Mercantile in Bari serves huge salads, as well as, sanwiches, piadini, and other snacks; they have a gluten free menu as well. Piazza Mercantile 66, Bari.

Pizza Barese, Bari
Focaccia barese at Panificio Fiore.

Panifico Fiore: Bread is baked in the back and served up front and, while excellent in its own right, most customers come for the focaccia. The dough is topped with tomatoes and olives (watch for the pits!) and baked in pans dosed with liberal amounts of olive oil. The result is a flatbread with a crispy bottom, a spongy interior, and sweet and salty top. Strada Palazzo di Citta’ 38, Bari.

Octopus Salad - Insalata di Polpo
Insalata di polpo, octopus salad, at Da Tuccino.

Da Tuccino: A Temple to Neptune if there ever was one. Set on the sea just north of Polignano a Mare, this fancy fish restaurant serves some of the best pesce crudo in the Provincia di Bari. The spaghetti con le cozze are spectacular. At the end of the meal, the server comes to your table and cleanses your palate with this weird grappa spray, totally bizarre but strangely refreshing. Maybe more alcohol should come in aerosol form? Contrada Santa Caterina 69, Polignano a Mare.

Granita di gelso nero e mandorla.

Super Mago di Gelo: The inside of this gelateria specializing in granita (slushy fruit ice) looks like it was designed by Scarface’s interior decorator, but once you get past the coke den decor, pay for your granita at the register (be sure to specify if you want panna–whipped cream) then place your order with the barman. Each portion includes two flavors of seasonal, slushy bliss. In my opinion, nothing beats gelso nero (black mulberry) and mandorla (almond). Piazza Garibaldi 22, Polignano a Mare.

Ricci di Mare (Sea Urchins)
Ricci di Mare, sea urchin roe, at La Rotonda.

La Rotonda: A sort of restaurant-shack on the litoranea south of Monopoli serving ricci di mare (in season), cozze fritte (fried mussels), grilled octopus, and basic pasta dishes on a patio overlooking the sea. SS Savelletri-Torre Canne, Fasano.

Orecchiette con le cime di rapa, homemade pasta with turnip tops, at L’Aratro.

L’Aratro: Most restaurants in Alberobello make their living off of the unfortunate mass tourism that has transformed the area in the past decade. L’Aratro is a welcome alternative, serving meticulously selected cheeses, cured meats, and wonderfully simply durum wheat pasta dishes. The owner is also a sommelier and prides himself on using Slow Food regonized products in his menu. Via Monte San Michele 27, Alberobello.

Cucina Casareccia “Le Zie”: If you don’t have the privilige of being invited to eat in someone’s home in Lecce, Le Zie will do. Ring the bell for admittance and you’ll be seated in one of the two rooms. Almost every table has a view into the kitchen where simple, peasant classics like fave e cicoria and pezzetti di cavallu are prepared with love. Order the antipasto misto to get a taste of Salento’s typical flavors like zingy marinated anchovies, sweet peppers, and sweet and sour zucchine. Via C.A. Costadura 19, Lecce.

Alvino’s rustico, puff pastry filled with besciamel, mozzarella, tomato and black pepper.

Alvino: This bar and caffe in Piazza Sant‘Oronzo is one-stop-shop for local sweet and savory snacks like pasticciotti and rustici. There are better places to find both, but Alvino offers convenient quality. Piazza Sant’Oronzo 30, Lecce.

Natale: Just around the block from Alvino, this much loved gelateria serve classic flavors, as well as more creative ones inspired by local specialites. The pasticciotto and mustazziolo are unique and I’ve heard good things about the stracciatella Thai, but have yet to try
it. Via Trinchese 7, Lecce.

Espressino freddo at Avio in Lecce.

Avio: A coffee shop near the Castello serving a special blend of the local Quarta coffe. Avio is an obligatory stop on any caffeine loving visitor’s itinerary. The espressini freddi are a rich summer alternative to the classic caffe’ espresso. Corner of Via Trinchese and Via XV Luglio, Lecce.

Nobile: Located in San Cataldo, a run down suburb of Lecce on the sea, this hole in the wall does the best pasticciotti in the region. They are turned out hot all day long and even in the dead of summer, these heavy pastiera cream-filled indulgences are hard to pass up. Via Marco Polo, San Cataldo.

For more, check out the posts A Day on the Salentine Coast and Eating in Monopoli.


  1. Engred June 3, 2010 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great post Katie – Puglia is now on the “to do” list!

  2. janie June 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    Thank you for all the great info-I’m dying to go to Puglia!

  3. Jeff June 4, 2010 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    The Panzarotti of a restaurant called Romanelli here in Brindisi are world famous. Part of the family left and opened one restaurant in Texas! I highly recommend them only here we called it a “fritta”. The place is just off of Piazza Victoria go past the bronze statue of good ol’ Giulio Cesare and turn left or ask anyone for the “Romanelli”


  4. Megan in Liguria June 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this blog! I am about to spend 3 days there myself and plan to take much of your gastronomic advice! 🙂

  5. Gary June 9, 2010 at 4:24 am - Reply

    I just returned from Puglia, based in Ostuni for a week with day trips to Matera, Lecce, Alberobello, and just hanging out. If you ever get to Ostuni, search out Forno 31, a wood fired bread bakery (forno a legno) that has been in continuous operation for over 300 years! Ostuni also has one of the largest Saturday markets in Puglia.
    Another classic Pugliese dish to try is ciceri e trie, which is chick peas and tria pasta, with a bit of deep fried pasta on top instead of bread crumbs or cheese. It is superb.

  6. fabio June 14, 2010 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Did you tasted “Pizzica Rustica”? here is mine 😉 http://www.thepuglia.com/2010/03/ricette-pugliesi-pizza-rustica-detta-pizzica

    • Katie June 18, 2010 at 8:30 pm - Reply

      yes i’ve had pizzica. its like a flat pizzo. soo good.

  7. pietro November 3, 2010 at 12:45 am - Reply

    Im a director of Villa del Sol. My Hotel is an hotel situated in south Italy (Gravina in Puglia). Have a good location because is in the Parco Nazionale dell’Alta Murgia and around have a suggestive land.. The food is tipical Pugliese. I want you know the fantastic place in south italy (Gravina in Puglia)…this is the link for more information.. Tanks. http://www.villadelsol.it/itinerari_turistici_gravina_in_puglia.html

  8. Lesley September 6, 2011 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    When in Puglia, stay at Villa Magnolia..learb how to make your own pizza’s , pasta and more!

  9. Carolina March 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I will be in Puglia next month,driving down from Ascoli,and I know our stay will be enriched by all the suggestions shared here.I will try to be ‘carb free’ for a few days pre-departure in preparation for the pasta,the pasticciotti,the pane and all the glories of Puglia.I feel gifted to have discovered this site!!!

  10. linda December 17, 2012 at 5:04 am - Reply

    We traveled to Puglia as a couple June/July 2012, stayed at Villa Magnolia situated in the heart of Puglia nestled between Bari-Brindisi and Lecce, an easy drive to Ostuni, Alberobello etc. So glad we stayed here as the place is magnificent and the hosts attentive to guests needs. We were lucky enough to be there for a hands on Pizza making evening and had so much fun.

  11. […] Board Chowhound message board for Italy Trip Advisor Message Boards for Puglia and Basilicata Parla Food-Katie Parla has a lot on her blog about eating in […]

  12. Valerie September 1, 2014 at 8:07 am - Reply

    I am in Puglia now-some good suggestions here. Glad I brought my yoga pants! The fish dishes have been wonderful, had a great orecchiette with pesto and seafood in a trattoria in Bari in Piazza Mercantile. We also love the seaside “shacks” scattered south of Monopoli. Casual with the freshest fish and the beautiful Adriatic at your feet.
    Her’s my question we are here a month and I am looking for some meat-need a break from the fish. Any suggestions?

    • Katie September 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      Do you have cooking facilities valerie? Every pugliese town has numerous butchers. my favorite meat dish in the region, pezzetti di cavallo, is readily available at many trattorias and roasted entrails are ubiquitous. Im sure there are other options for meat but those are my picks!

  13. Valerie September 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    Hmm, I guess I should try the Cavallo while I am here. I am not sure about pezzetti perhaps my first cavallo taste should be the braciole instead. I did find a pretty good braceria in Ostuni yesterday and had a nice mixed plate of grilled meat, sausage, chicken.

  14. […] of good eats in Puglia — including Katie Parla, author of the blog Parla Food (see her Puglia Wrap Up), the Gambero Rosso Ristoranti iPhone app and Gianni, the owner of our vacation rental.  Grazie a […]

  15. Yoga Gravina In Puglia - Kriya Yoga September 12, 2015 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    […] Puglia Wrap Up, Where and What to Eat | … – Wondering where and what to eat in Puglia? Here is my round up of my favorite restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops. […]

Leave A Comment

You are currently not connected to the internet