Mesagne - Osteria dell Vicoletto, www.osteriadellvicoletto.it
Fabulous little restaurant, recommended to us by locals. We had a four course meal with wine for 52 euros total. Ambience, food, service were all excellent. Definitely one to revisit.
Vico Quercia, Mesagne, Puglia. Tel: 0831 1720678
Mesagne - il Connubio.
Another local recommendation and another gem. We received a warm welcome from husband and wife team. On a week day in winter the restaurant soon filled up with locals, always a good sign. Great food, great wine, great ambience – do not miss this one. Open every day for lunch and dinner except Monday.
Via Eugenio Santacessaria, 13-15,Mesagne - Tel : +39 0831 730643
Galatina - Le Tre Grazie Wine Bar and Restaurant ,Via del Balzo 34.
This was a different experience for us as, at the time, we hadn't come across a wine bar - restaurant combination in Puglia. Exploring Galatina we stumbled across Le Tre Grazie just in time for lunch. Located in a tiny cobbled street close to the cathedral we were the first customers to arrive (with more arriving rapidly on our heels). We received a friendly welcome from the manager, Fiorenzo, who explained each of the main courses to us. All the main courses are described in full on the menu and the contorni (side dishes) are included - in most cases a good salad and french fries. I opted for the cheese stuffed, bacon wrapped "kebab" and Bob had a local speciality beef dish recommended by Fiorenzo, both excellent but the beef definitely won.
We had a simple antipasti of salumi (cold meats) and formaggi (cheese) to start, very fresh and excellent flavours. Fiorenzo explained each of the meats and cheeses to us, highlighting the local specialities.
And the chocolate mousse that I could not resist for desert was sublime. Jazz music playing the the background, and for once, no TV blaring away (an Italian habit that we still haven't got used to).
Via Del Balzo 34, Galatina.
Tel : 0039 0836 522031 / 0039 326 927 8183
Monopoli - Osteria Perricci, Via Orazio Comes 1.
Another day out, another local recommendation, another hit! Fabulous trattoria serving "Cucina Casalinga Tipica" (typical home cooking), warm welcome, friendly service, great food and wine. Highly recommended. Google search for Osteria Perricci in Monopoli and you will get lots of great reviews.
Via Orazio Comes, 1 70043 - Monopoli (BA) – Puglia
Tel : +39 080.9372208
Brindisi (between Brindisi and San Vito dei Normanni) Locanda Ti Li Spilusi, Contrada Restinco
These are my top top favourites ...... there are so many more.
I was just in Puglia on a bike tour and wanted to add a restaurant we discovered in Matera, in the Sassi area. It's called Osteria Pico on Via Fiorentini, and we had a lovely meal there, one of the best of the whole trip. We also went to La Bottegha down the road from Pico based on recommendations in another thread on here, but it was absolutely awful - not one of our party of 6 had a satisfactory meal. Le Zie in Lecce was fantastic, but as it's tiny you should book ahead.
Le Botteghe, thanks. And when I said the Sassi area I meant the restaurant was in the old town of Matera which they call the Sassi, with all the cliff dwellings. We all had different types of meals - mine was an ensalata misto that had tomatoes that were hard and pulpy and a boring mix of iceberg lettuce etc. I could have been in Canada in the winter! Dressing to be mixed yourself. My meat dish which was what I understood they are known for was the lamb dish from the middle part of the menu and it was the toughest, boniest pieces of strong tasting lamb (mutton?) I've ever had, and left me with a bad aftertaste. No one else enjoyed their meal either for similar types of reasons. The service was extremely slow for the initial order as well as getting the bill but all the food came pretty quickly, all on top of each other. Maybe a really bad night? Osteria Pico on the other hand, the night before, made us feel special from beginning to end. The mixed salad had a lovely dressing on it, the pastas were all very simple but incredibly tasty, my friend had a steak dish that he loved, the waitress was adorable, and we had their house Primitivo which was amazing, and 5 huge glasses came to $20E! After our dinner at Le Botteghe we dropped in on our way back to the hotel and they were packed, and I was able to tell the owner through a translator how wonderful we had thought his restaurant was.
Thanks for elaborating. I think it is helpful to future diners to know what dishes disappointed you or that you might recommend they avoid. The memorably good food I ate at Le Botteghe was a platter of local cheeses, a pasta with a sauce of chickpeas and breadcrumbs, and a mixed grill of meats that to my recollection didn't include lamb. I did think the meat course was the weakest part of the meal -- although by that time I was so full, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed any third course.
It is the norm in most restaurants in Italy to give you olive oil and vinegar with the idea that you will dress your own salad. Osteria Pico seems a bit unusual in that regard, in my experience. Did you eat salads elsewhere during your trip?
I know what the Sassi is. What I was trying to say is that the city of Matera is not in the region of Puglia, but in the region of Baslicata. It is so often included in Puglian itineraries (and threads), I'm sometimes not sure people realize they are no longer in Puglia when they go to Matera.
Some of the best food I've had on 3 trips to the region was around the area of Andria/Minervino, not far from Castel del Monte...I wrote up a few of the places I ate in this report from about a year ago.
Carovigno is a beautiful and largely untouristed town near Ostuni; we just had an excellent dinner there at the elegant Gia Sotto all Arco. I normally choose less "fancy" eating places in the south, but made an exception here and was glad that I had done so:
I'll second minchilli's recommendation to seek out the streets of the pasta-making ladies in the vicinity of Strada Arco Alto. I wished I had spent more time in Bari, which had all the makings of a very good eating town. I enjoyed an excellent meal at Bacco (with good wine from Castel del Monte), and while Bacco isn't expensive for what it offers, it is more expensive and more fashion forward than other places, and since overall quality is high in Bari, you might want to go with something more traditional.
Will you be in Bari? If so I can recommend the following:
Al Pescatore: Fish, fish and then more fish. Located just at the edge of Bari Vecchia, beneath the castle. Definitely order the antipasto, which changes depending on what's been caught. They will start with raw seafood (tell them yes to the crudi) and move on from there.
Terramina: A lovely place located in the more modern part of Bari. Very much a Slow Food kind of restaurant with dishes featuring local vegetables, legumes, etc. Again, it's the kind of place where you can put yourself in the owners hands and be safe and happy.
Stoppani: my favorite old fashioned coffee/ pastry shop in Bari. Have a lazy breakfast dipping your brioche in cappucino.
If you have time stop by the old port where fishermen sell their wares in the mornings. Right on the waterfront you can order a plate of freshly caught sea urchins and to be scooped up with a piece of crusty bread.
In Bari Vecchia make sure you walk down Strada Arco Alto, to buy hand made pasta directly from women making it in front of their homes (right near Pescatore.
Im not sure you could do better than considering the restaurants listed in the Slowfood Guide; the 2013 guide is just coming out and these are the top names (designated with a snail)
1) L’Aratro – Alberobello (Ba)
2) Antichi Sapori – Andria (Bt)
3) Perbacco – Bari (Ba)
4) Il Castelletto – Carovigno (Br)
5) Cucina Casereccia, Le Zie – Lecce (Le)
6) Falsopepe – Massafra (Ta)
7) Masseria Barbera – Minervino Murge (Bt)
8) L’Antica Locanda – Noci (Ba)
9) Peppe Zullo – Orsara di Puglia (Fg)
10) La Piazza – Poggiardo (Le)
11) La Fossa del Grano – San Severo (Fg)
of course these are not the only restaurants in the guide and some very good restaurants may have priced themselves out of it this year - Slowfood has a price maximum. I would think that if you wanted seafood in this day and age of high prices, there would not be many places offering it represented in this list.
there are some good past threads on Puglia,l including especially some recommendations for Martina Franca. I recommend a search.
re: jen kalb
On the above list, I can highly recommend Antichi Sapori and Masseria Barbara. I wrote about my experiences at both places in a report from 2011.
I believe I also remarked on the very good, traditional Le Zie, probably in a report from a 2009 visit.
More recently, I highly recommend A Casa de Tu Martinu, in Taviano, Salento, for meat and traditional non.fish preparations.
I also urge you to do a search, and to narrow down your geographical area, as this is a large region.
Price is not an indicator of quality..this perhaps even more emphatically the case in Puglia than in other regions.