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Driving through Puglia (Apulia)

g
Gold D Oct 3, 2006 05:06 AM

Hi

I'll be heading out on a driving trip through Puglia and would love any input on great places to eat and drink throughout the region. Will be in Lucera, Bari, Alberobello, Lecce, Matera (just outside Puglia) and points in between.

Thanks in advance for the help

dg

  1. m
    mixtboy Dec 9, 2007 01:57 AM

    We are planning a driving trip through Puglia next summer... we drive a classic Volkswagen camper and we'll be camping along the way. The main focus for us, as on most of our trips, is food food food... so any suggestions of a route would be superb. We're coming from Amsterdam, probably dropping down through Germany/Switzerland... whichever is quickest. Although that is a relative term when you consider our top cruising speed of 52mph! The recommendations i've read on here so far sound amazing! My girlfriend and I like rustic little places and family run joints... but do also enjoy a proper dining experience (michelin) when the wallet permits it. For us, it's always about the food first, then the atmosphere of the place. Generally if i see too many foreigners in a place, we give it a miss. And if one or the other is lacking we will generally move on to try to find one that has both. Will probably do the trip over a 16 day period... perhaps in June. Any tips appreciated!

    2 Replies
    1. re: mixtboy
      n
      Nettie Dec 14, 2007 05:36 PM

      We went with a tour group to Puglia in late October and we were thrilled with the food. We went to some good restaurants, but the best things we did were at places that were quite rustic. Most of these were set up through the tour group, so I don't even know if you can just stop in. I'll give you the info I have, though, since it sounds like these are the type of places that you would like.

      I'm attaching a photo of our lunch at Masseria Le Creste near Otranto--I think it's primarily a place that makes cheese, but they had stuff for sale there, too, so maybe they do get drop-in traffic.

      We had another nice lunch at Masseria Aprile near Locorotondo--they actually have a website. It looks from their website like they only serve meals to people who are staying there, but they might make an exception. http://www.masseriaaprile.it/

      We also had a lunch at Antica Masseria Brancati in an olive grove near Ostuni. Again, from their website they're more of a B&B, but our group ate there without staying there. The owners were very nice, though, and we bought some great olive oil to bring back (I wish I'd bought more). http://www.masseriabrancati.com/home....

      We ate at some more typical restaurants and stayed at some very nice masserie, too--if you're interested, I could find you information about those. They wouldn't be quite what you described, however (neither rustic nor michelin-starred restaurants).

       
      1. re: mixtboy
        g
        gargantua53 Jan 10, 2008 01:56 PM

        I had a wonderful trip through Apulia last summer and my conclusion is that the only problem you won't have there is about well-eating . I heard that when two Apulians meet, they don't ask one each other "How are you?" but often "What have you eaten for lunch?". The cheapest solution in order to try the true taste of apulian typical products could be to find them directly where they're made. This is not so difficult as it could seem and I think it's particularly indicated for cheese like "burrata" (a typical fat cheese of Andria), because the one you'll find in the "caseifici" (cheese-making shops) is often better than the one that is served in restaurants. However I had a very good and not so expensive typical apulian dinner in Monopoli at "Trattoria il Porto" (http://xoomer.alice.it/trattoriadelporto). It is located in the eldest part of the city and (like other restaurants in Apulia) it seems to be specialized in making "antipasti" (appetizers) (e.g. a very good small stewed goosefish and a fragrant mix of chicories and broad beans).
        Another very good but certainly more expensive experience was at "La Fontanina" (http://www.lafontanina.it), between Ceglie Messapica and Francavilla. It's both an hotel and a restaurant and it offers some modern elaboration of many typical apulian tastes.

      2. j
        jaweino May 24, 2007 05:59 PM

        We had an excellent lunch in Lido Bianco in Monopoli last year. Here's a link to my post on it

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/26842...

        1. k
          KMERC Apr 16, 2007 02:52 AM

          I generally spend time down in the Salento, so not sure how these places fit into your traveling plans but
          CIBUS in Ceglie Messapica.
          Le Puritate in (old)Gallipoli (its got an annoying old restuarant look to it but the fish is great (or was last year) and they are very nice.
          La Lanterna in Martana
          A Casa Tu Martinu in Taviano
          Rua de li Travaj - in Patu'
          Da Jolanda in Lucugnano.

          If you are traveling inland in the Salento area, stop in at Maglie(its an interestesting lively town to visit, and great for a walk round the piazza and apertivo) and try the chocolate at Maglio.

          If the weather is still nice and you are on the Ionic sea side near Ugento stop in at one of my favorite beach establishments anywhere - CocoLoco

          How you get to puglia depends on where you are going and how much time you have. From Rome you can fly into bari and brindisi (some small local carriers go to both cities) , and save yourself the 6 hour drive down, and travel around that area. You can take the train to lecce (there is even an overnight train) and travel around Salento.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KMERC
            erica May 6, 2007 08:58 AM

            In today's New York Times (May 6, 2007) there is a good article about Puglia by Bruni.

          2. c
            chowbunny Dec 10, 2006 01:53 AM

            Monopoli really is a beautiful town. We had a great lunch at Pierino L'Inglese on Via Amalfitana. Great seafood.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chowbunny
              k
              kel Apr 10, 2007 08:08 PM

              Any updates or new info please.

            2. d
              DaleJ Nov 28, 2006 08:03 PM

              I spent a week or so in Puglia a couple of years ago. I think the outstanding feast was Sunday pranzo at Lido Bianco in Monopoli. A big seafood place absolutely filled with local families. Well controled mayhem and great fun and food.

              1. n
                Nette Nov 28, 2006 07:23 PM

                We just got back from Puglia. Stayed in Martina Franca. We rented an apartment, which was great. We flew into Rome and drove - took us more like 6 hours, but we ran into some heavy traffic. In Martina Franca, we like Ai Portici. We ate there twice - dinner and Sunday lunch. Very different experiences. Lunch was much more leiserely. The house appetizer spread was excellent.
                Our favorite meal of the trip was definitely Da Ricci, which is in Ceglie Messapica. Wonderful service, excellent food, lovely setting. We had the tasing menu, which as 60 euros each was a genuine bargin. We also had a wonderful bottle of wine - Stellarosa Salice Salentino Reserva 2003 by Cantine Due Palma. Ceglie Messapica is a beautiful little town, but we couldn't really explore too much, the tourist office doesn't even have maps to offer. We did have a good lunch there at Osteria Pugliese. It is a little local joint, but the food was wonderful and, again, the owners seemed genuinely thrilled to have tourists stop in.
                We also enjoyed lunch at Due Corti in Lecce. The food there is very different - excellent, but not what you see on other menus. The bread was also fabulous. The family who runs it were terrific - Mama and Papa came out to our table to speak when their daughter told them how much we enjoyed it. They seemed really thrilled that we like everything so much.
                Have a good trip.

                1. e
                  ElizabethS Oct 14, 2006 01:42 PM

                  We drove from near Alberobello to the Rome airport which took about 5 hours - it was an easy drive - but you will be arriving early in the morning at FCO and a 5 hour drive might not be very appealing - are you staying in Rome for a few nights first?

                  We were in Puglia for a week - we covered a lot of ground (the driving is really easy - pretty flat, good roads and after the Amalfi Coast the drivers seemed like little old ladies!) basically to the south of Bari - we thought we would see the Gargano peninsula but didn't have the time.

                  1. m
                    markabauman Oct 14, 2006 12:48 PM

                    Just a general travel question. We are planning a trip to Puglia a year from now- I have to make arrangements that far ahead. Emphasis, of course, is on food/wine and then general sightseeing. We will plan to fly to Rome from NY. We plan to drive while in Puglia. Would like to see the Gargano peninsula, coast, Alberbello, some of the smaller towns, Lecce, etc. What would be the best way to get to the region from Rome? Fly to Bari and rent a car? Drive from Rome? Take a train and rent a car? Would like some idea of travel times. How much time to allow for being in Puglia itself? Thanks for any information.

                    1. e
                      ElizabethS Oct 7, 2006 05:24 PM

                      In tomorrow's NY Times Travel section there's an article about Otranto and the mosaic floor

                      http://tinyurl.com/qsonq

                      1. t
                        tulipano Oct 5, 2006 10:53 AM

                        One other thing re: tipping. It's not really done here, at all. If you leave even an extra 50 cents they'll be appreciative, but it's not necessary, nor expected.

                        However, bear in mind that most waiters/waitresses here get paid a straight salary of about E30 a night, and it's under the table, with no benefits to boot. The service (coperta) charge on your bill does NOT go to your waiter/waitress. And the cost of living (at least in Bari) is more or less what you find in a mid-size American city.

                        So you don't have to tip, but if you do, you make your server's night MUCH better.

                        1. t
                          tulipano Oct 4, 2006 11:42 PM

                          I've lived in Bari for three years, and while I don't really have the budget for the high price places, luckily it's a city where you can eat exceptionally well even for cheap.

                          da Donata in via Lattanzia is excellent to try antipasto alla Barese, which basically means super-abundant mixed appetizers. Just ask for the antipasto della casa, and they'll bring you plate after plate after plate of different appetizers. It's in theory a pizzeria, and the pizza is pretty good as well, but everyone goes there for the antipasto. The one negative thing is that it's the only place I've ever been in Italy that has tried a bit to rush me out. There's always a big line outside, so they kind of try to keep the tables moving. (nothing exaggerated or anything, you just can't sit and talk for two hours like in most places)

                          Le Travi in Bari Vecchia (the old part of the city) is excellent authentic traditional food, and is a huge bargain as well. (i.e.- antipasto, primo, secondo, dolce, vino E25 a person...and it's all excellent) Make sure you include the self-service style antipasto, which has the best zucchini sott'aceto I've ever tasted.

                          For pizza, there's Bari-Napoli in via Piccinni, which has both pizza napoletano (a thicker style crust, more similar to what we get in America) and pizza barese (much thinner crust). Also order the patatine fritte, which are home-made potato chips.

                          This has nothing to do with eating, but stop in Ostuni and in Polignano al Mare, which are both incredibly beautiful towns, that are not particularly touristy (outside of Puglians themselves). Everyone who has come to visit me has insisted on seeing Alberobello and been disappointed, and then thrilled by Ostuni and Polignano. There's a famous restaurant in Polignano la Grotta Palazzese, but the prices are a bit out of my reach. http://www.grottapalazzese.it/english... In any case it's supposed to be amazing.

                          Hope that helps!

                          Edited to add...one more thing. Don't go to Vini e Cucina which is recommended in quite a few guidebooks. It WAS really good, but is now dreadful.

                          1. e
                            ElizabethS Oct 4, 2006 06:11 PM

                            Here's a link to a posting on Fodors from a fellow I communicated with after we were there (and subsequently met in Toronto) - there are some great suggestions for Puglia/etc

                            http://fodors.com/forums/threadselect...

                            I have never quite figured out the protocol here for posting links to other sites so this might be vaporized......but if you do get to the Fodors site - search for posts from "Bob the Navigator" - he also has some great suggestions in Puglia.............

                            1. e
                              ElizabethS Oct 3, 2006 09:07 PM

                              Hi - sorry about the lire - it was an old posting. It was 2000 when we were there and the three lunches (we prefer eating our big meal at lunch) were all in the $125 CDN range ....... so just over $100 US ........

                              Re dress - Acmet Pascia and Ricci were very casual................while we weren't wearing jeans others were (again - it was lunch) but we were wearing the North American "uniform" of chinos and a decent polo shirt/button down shirt......

                              Antica Cucina was a little more formal - mainly because it's not a tourist place and it was mostly Italian businessmen in suits.......but we were comfortable in our "uniform".

                              Re tipping - I think we probably tipped over and above the usual service that's included......mainly because at Antica Cucina and Ricci we had a meal created for us.....at Acmet Pascia we ordered from the menu (or more precisely we pointed at the fresh fish) and probably didn't do anything over and above the regular service charge.

                              I have to return again to the wonderful mosaic in Otranto - it's not in many books but it's lovely - following is a link

                              http://www.stonepages.com/apulia/site...

                              1. g
                                Gold D Oct 3, 2006 05:37 PM

                                Thanks for those recommendations...sound great.

                                a few questions:

                                What was the appropriate dress in these places?

                                What does the cost convert to? Since they don't use lire anymore I just wanted to have a general idea.

                                And what is the correct tipping etiquette in the region.

                                Thanks again....this is just the type of info I was hoping for. If you have more...even better!

                                dg

                                1. e
                                  ElizabethS Oct 3, 2006 03:41 PM

                                  Posted it twice somehome ....... sorry!

                                  1. e
                                    ElizabethS Oct 3, 2006 03:39 PM

                                    We loved the food in Puglia - here are some suggestions: (taken from a posting I did on Fodors)

                                    A Michelin One Star in a town just north of Bari (Barletta)called Antica Cucina doesn't see too many tourists, let alone North Americans. They had a simple solution to the language barrier - take us into the kitchen, drag everything onto the counters and between Italian, French, English, sign language and charades constructed an amazing seafood meal. At the end of lunch when we asked for the bill we braced ourselves - the menu had a fixed price lunch for 35,000 lire but we had easily had twice as much food as was listed on it. The bill came - 35,000 lire each and one bottle of wine (that was complete fiction!). Throughout lunch 'regulars' kept coming up and introducing themselves - happy to see tourists at "their" restaurant!

                                    Al Fornello da Ricci, near Alberbello. A Michelin one star specializing in Puglian cuisine. We stopped by there on a Sunday - they were jammed! We explained (in fractured Italian/French/English/sign language) that we didn't want to stay that day, we would come tomorrow, but could we have a menu to look at. Back to the Agriturismo we went with the 10 page menu which my husband spent 2 hours painstakingly translating with the help of an excellent Italian menu book we had. We were ready for lunch. On Monday we turned up at 1:00pm - all ready to order. We were the only people in the dining room (and it would remain that way) and the captain quickly ran into the kitchen to get someone who spoke English. Nigel, the Malaysian Second course (grill) chef (a whole story in itself) arrived at our table, gently took the menu away and proceeded to order for us. Unbelievable! First, we had enough food for an army (yes, we asked for doggie bags) and again, at the end we steeled ourselves for the bill. Once again, it was for 2 'menus' which in no way approximated the amount of food we ate (or took home). Nigel asked us back to his house which unfortunately didn't work out - but we'll be back!

                                    In Otranto - Acmet Pascia for the freshest seafood and wonderful swordfish carpaccio. Also the mosiac on the floor of the church there is spectacular - my favourite of all.

                                    I'll look through my files as I think we had a couple other ones - but the 3 above are not to be missed IMHO!

                                    1. e
                                      ElizabethS Oct 3, 2006 03:39 PM

                                      We loved the food in Puglia - here are some suggestions: (taken from a posting I did on Fodors)

                                      A Michelin One Star in a town just north of Bari (Barletta)called Antica Cucina doesn't see too many tourists, let alone North Americans. They had a simple solution to the language barrier - take us into the kitchen, drag everything onto the counters and between Italian, French, English, sign language and charades constructed an amazing seafood meal. At the end of lunch when we asked for the bill we braced ourselves - the menu had a fixed price lunch for 35,000 lire but we had easily had twice as much food as was listed on it. The bill came - 35,000 lire each and one bottle of wine (that was complete fiction!). Throughout lunch 'regulars' kept coming up and introducing themselves - happy to see tourists at "their" restaurant!

                                      Al Fornello da Ricci, near Alberbello. A Michelin one star specializing in Puglian cuisine. We stopped by there on a Sunday - they were jammed! We explained (in fractured Italian/French/English/sign language) that we didn't want to stay that day, we would come tomorrow, but could we have a menu to look at. Back to the Agriturismo we went with the 10 page menu which my husband spent 2 hours painstakingly translating with the help of an excellent Italian menu book we had. We were ready for lunch. On Monday we turned up at 1:00pm - all ready to order. We were the only people in the dining room (and it would remain that way) and the captain quickly ran into the kitchen to get someone who spoke English. Nigel, the Malaysian Second course (grill) chef (a whole story in itself) arrived at our table, gently took the menu away and proceeded to order for us. Unbelievable! First, we had enough food for an army (yes, we asked for doggie bags) and again, at the end we steeled ourselves for the bill. Once again, it was for 2 'menus' which in no way approximated the amount of food we ate (or took home). Nigel asked us back to his house which unfortunately didn't work out - but we'll be back!

                                      In Otranto - Acmet Pascia for the freshest seafood and wonderful swordfish carpaccio. Also the mosiac on the floor of the church there is spectacular - my favourite of all.

                                      I'll look through my files as I think we had a couple other ones - but the 3 above are not to be missed IMHO!

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