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Jan 8, 2013 09:45 AM

Pescara to Alberobello and around...

Just wanted to share a few places we discovered on our trip around Puglia.

The first place we stayed was on the way down (we were driving from Switzerland). The Castello di Semivicoli is in a remote area not far from the sea in the hills between Pescara and Abruzzo. The Castello makes Masciarelli wines and has been converted to a lovely hotel with beautiful views of the countryside. Our hostess, Valentina, recommended a FANTASTIC restaurant in Pescara called LA ZATTERA where we feasted on crudo (try the sampling menu for 30 euros to split) and local pasta specialties. There is some English spoken there and they are extremely helpful about the wines. The view to the sea is nice, but do not expect much from the town or architecture. Ask about the traditional pasta dishes...

On to Alberobello. We stayed in a trullo outside of this picturesque place and ate two very good meals there. The first was in a little spot (maybe 5 tables) called LA CANTINA. Straightforward non-nonsense cooking and reasonable prices. Eat your seasonal pasta and greens for digestion. We were there in puntarelle season and the preparation with anchovy is divine.
For Christmas day lunch we dined with the locals and their families for a fixed menu lunch at LA LOCANDA di DON ANTONIO. We love our food and it was even too abundant for us! Course after course arrived and was devoured with a local primotivo. Copious antipasta and a wonderful wild boar. More expensive but not over the top.
Salvelletri - LA MAREA - down to the waterfront and before you go buy fish from one of the two local pescaterias where fishermen sell their catch, try this little place. No English spoken, but a hidden little gem in a small local spot. A large fried plate of fish, crudo and pasta. Cooked with care and in manageable portions with a lovely interior that you would not expect.
Martina Franca - LA TANA - hands down the best experience in the trulli area. They cook so well and have a great wine list. Friday was fish night and we had a sea bass encrusted in salt and cooked to perfection with chicore and the local bocconotto for dessert. DELICIOUS with a perfect espresso. GO and GO again. The menu is simple and they do not fuss with the food.
Lecce - street food. Street food. Sketch town with amazing baroque architecture. We ate the best kebab we've ever had and the cream horn was so insane I took a picture so my best friend in Indiana would know what she liked to buy when we were growing up was no where near the real thing.

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  1. thanks for the interesting info on this area we dont get many reports from !

    Id also love to see the pic of that creamhorn!

      1. re: SAMMCAMM

        Coda d'aragosta (lobster tail--generally credited to Campania). Did yours have any chocolate or was the pastry crunchy and just looks very dark in the foto?

        In calling Lecce a "sketch town", were you there during the pausa (the long afternoon lunch break?)

        1. re: SAMMCAMM

          offtopic, but the midwest has certainly changed since my childhood there - its hard to imagine italian pastries like lobster tails as part of the culinary landscape in Indiana! thanks for the pic verifying its identity.

          1. re: jen kalb

            jen, don't think it so off topic since the comparison was made in the original post. Sfogliatelle did of course exist in NYC in my youth, but even there they had been translated into something much more custard-y than the less-sweet ricotta-stuffed sfogliatelle and code d'aragoste (sometimes called aragostelle) I've come to prefer living in Italy, although I didn't eat any pastries while in Lecce, so don't know what they are like there.

            1. re: barberinibee

              Ive only eaten these sfogliatelle pastries in outer brooklyn and italy - the outer brooklyn bakeries will give you a choice between ricotta based and cream fillings. I was just surprised - but shouldnt be I guess - with the Indiana reference. I went offtopic to comment about the lack of Italian pastries in the Midwest of my youth where pies ruled supreme.

              However, in a world where there is (I understand) a Singapore/Malaysian restaurant within a stroll of my old suburban Ohio home, and a Japanese restaurant visited by Tony Bourdain and Somali, Persian and creditable chinese dining halls a short drive away, obviously the Midwest is much more diverse than it was!

              1. re: jen kalb

                Not recommending you go out of your way or ingest unwanted calories, but you can get ricotta sfogliatelle at Veniero's or have them put it is the mail to you, and heat it up in your oven (which reminds me, I am going to Genova shortly and will get that stove lighter!):


                1. re: barberinibee

                  All of the Brooklyn legacy pasticcerie offer sfogliatelle with the kind of not too sweet ricotta filling I've always eaten growing up; a few offer the plainer frolla version, which can have a cream(ier) filling. Funny how code d'aragosta seemed to pop up somewhere in the 1980s, perhaps with the arrival of new Italians in the post-65 migration: unknown to me before that, growing up in 50s and 60s Brooklyn, these "lobster tails" soon became a special treat for generations who'd gotten too comfortable with sfogliatelle. And speaking of Indiana and other points far south and west of Bensonhurst, I won't forget spotting a few plastic clamshell-packed sfogliatelle (so labelled, too) in the bakery case of a Kroger's supermarket in small town north Georgia. Globalization can be good for you, sometimes.

          1. re: SAMMCAMM

            thanks for answering, and here's my previous report on Puglia from last May, in case you are interested


          2. Thanks very much for the roundup, which includes several places not mentioned before on this site.