There are some absolutely wonderful restaurants across Italy. Eating out in Puglia is no exception. Often, the most unassuming restaurants can provide the most exceptional cuisine. The food is varied, often simple but always delicious! Most of the land in Puglia is rural - for perspective the region's 66 million olive trees produce 40% of Italys' olive oil - and so food tends to focus on using this abundant local produce, including fava beans, courgette, rocket, artichokes, fennel, peppers and durum wheat. The latter is used to make their 'orecchiette' which are little ear-shaped shells, often served with sauces including broccoli, ragu or mushroom as well as their bread, served in all shapes and sizes! The rocky land is also home to livestock, particularly sheep and cows, with lamb reigning supreme on menus! Many of the cheeses are also ovine in extraction with pecorino and ricotta frequently served. Mozarella is also popular as is our favourite - burrata - a fresh, soft cheese that should almost ooze with creaminess when cut, and which must be eaten within 24 hours of production. And, of course, with such a long coastline, fish and shellfish also appear in abundance on menus. In fact, the region supplies 80% of Italy's seafood.
The food in Puglia is, in our opinion, the best in Italy, no doubt in large part to the fact that it's low on airmiles and rich in taste.
Here are some of our favourite restaurants in the region which we like to recommend to our clients. We've listed them by location, to help you find the perfect place to dine wherever you happen to be sightseeing!
Pizzeria Quantabasta: A fantastic pizzeria serving some of the best pizzas we have ever tasted! There are plenty of tables outside but it still gets full in peak season. However, the family also own a nearby restaurant - Pizzeria Casa Pinto - which is just as good. Again, plenty of tables outside as well as a roof terrace.
Bina Ristorante di Puglia: A more formal, fine dining option which also offers a tasting menu to allow you to try a number of the local specialities. Stunning setting with white tablecloths and beautiful cream coloured stone walls. The staff are always really friendly and welcoming. The only downside is the lack of any outside seating but don't let this put you off.
Trattoria Al Vecchio Arco: This is a really typical family-run Italian restaurant with no menu. Instead you will be told what is fresh that day.
Ai Tre Santi: In the heart of the pedestrian centre of Locorotondo is this small restaurant with tables outside on the pavement. The menu changes daily according to what is fresh and in season.
Trattoria Centro Storico: A simple, rustic style 'trattoria' serving high quality, home-cooked dishes. Great quality and generous servings!
Il Ritrovo degli Amici: A small, elegant restaurant run by a husband and wife team, serving beautifully cooked regional dishes. In Summer fine dining takes place outside on the terrace. Booking is recommended and the restaurant is more suitable for adults than children.
Paradiso di Puglia: Some great local specialities are served here, including orecchiette and trofiette. Traditional style restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Il Guazzetto: Perhaps not surprisingly, given it's location on the coast in Monopoli, this is a great place to sample raw fish... it's superb!
Osteria Perricci: Fantastic fish and sea food as well as other options on the menu
Osteria del tempo perso: A beautiful restaurant in the heart of Ostuni, built into a cave and with an oven dating back to 1500 so a great historical setting! Varied menu with plenty of options for those on gluten free diets or who are vegetarian. There is also an option to enjoy a cookery class here.
La Gilda: This is ideal for more informal dining, and is certainly a great option for a light bite at lunchtime, enjoying lovely sea views.
In Lecce, definitely take the time to try L'Angolino di Via Matteotti. It's a great place selling traditional and authentic Puglian cuisine. Definitely try the traditional Puglian savoury flatbread - puccia - if you try out this place. They will stuff it with a variety of flavours and it's delicious!
Puglia is renowned even amongst Italians for its exceptional food, and this town is certainly amongst the best in delivering amaxing flavours and cuisine. Some of our favourite places here include:
Osteria Pugliese: A great osteria in the centre of the town serving absolutely delicious, authentic Puglian cuisine.
Osteria del Capitolo: This is another excellent chance to try traditional fantastic Puglian cuisine in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Agostino DivinGustare: A popular family run restaurant.
If you're just looking for an ice cream whilst sighsteeing to cool off, then our favourite in the town is Bar Roma. And to try the local delicacy 'biscotti cegliese' head to Bar Centrale. It's a delicious biscuit made of almonds and with a cherry inside.
Casa Mia on Via M. Serao is a fantastic pizzeria which you could easily walk past without noticing but it serves superb quality pizzas and other traditional dishes. It is extremely popular with the locals so unless you're planning on eating early before the locals arrive, it's advisable to try and book a table. Closed Wednesdays.
La Cantina: A tiny restaurant serving superb quality Puglian cuisine. As it's so small, it gets booked up quickly so definitely book a table in advance.