My partner and I spent 5 days in Puglia recently, based in Monopoli. We were visiting friends, so most of the places we tried were their recommendations. We ate very well, and had some excellent wines, all from the region, mostly priced from 12 to 18 euros a bottle.
We were disappointed that we did not get to try the relatively new Masseria Spina in Monopoli. It has a Michelin star and gets rave reviews. Unfortunately it was closed for a private event the entire time we were there.
Here are the restaurants we tried:
We stopped in Barletta for lunch on our way from Caserta to Monopoli, and chose Baccosteria based on reviews in Michelin. A plate of crudités, an assortment of bruschetta, and a bowl of grapes were brought to the table while we perused the menu. We then had tagliatelle with black truffles and porcini in a sauce made with foie gras, and cavatelli with tiny clams, arugula and pignoli in a broth. The tagliatelle was exceptional. Next we had a filet of beef with a curried cream sauce, cooked perfectly rare, and monkfish , both very good. The atmosphere is very charming. With a bottle of 2011 Amativo, the bill was 79 euros.
Osteria di Chichibio, Polignano a Mare
This is a favorite of our friends in Monopoli. Started with seafood ravioli in a tomato sauce, then had prawns wrapped in speck and fritto misto. For dessert, tiramisu and Sicilian cannoli. Lively, bustling atmosphere. Total for 7 people was about 175 euros including a few bottles of wine.
La Cantina, Alberobello
Charming small restaurant serving regional specialties. Had a very nice lunch. Assorted antipasti. Mixed grill of lamb chops and sausage, unfortunately the lamb was overcooked. Veal stuffed with cheese in tomato sauce. Cabbage with pancetta. Great biscotti. Notarpanaro Taurino 2006 for 16 euros was a bargain. We were treated so I don’t know what the total bill was, but I would guess no more than 25 or 30 euros per person.
Il Poeta Contadino, Alberobello
Michelin-starred restaurant in a converted stable. Very beautiful atmosphere with soaring ceilings and stone walls. Marinated orata, mixed seafood salad with fennel guinea fowl stuffed with speck, frozen grand marnier soufflé, terrine of 3 chocolates with coffee sauce. Food was exceptional. Salice Salentino 2004, 27 euros (wine prices were high). Total 112 euros.
Oi Mari, Matera
Great atmosphere in the center of the old town. Gnocchi with mussels and gorgonzola, topped with arugula, caprese, cotoletta with fries, mixed seafood grill, grilled eggplant and zucchini. Food was very tasty. Total was 65 euros with a bottle of wine.
Antiche Mura, Polignano a Mare
This is a beautiful restaurant with excellent service and ambience, specializing in seafood, with a great selection of whole fish. Assorted antipasti. Marinated raw tuna, stracciatella, stuffed eggplant, bruschetta, several types of mussel preparations. Raw seafood assortment. Sea bass with zucchini, potatoes, and tomatoes, zuppa di pesce. We wanted a red wine, so our server recommended a Negroamaro that was not too full-bodied, just right with the fish. Total for 5 people was 240 euros.
Tre Archi, Altamura
We checked out the lunch options as we walked around the old town. This one looked appealing, and turned out to be pretty good, and obviously popular with locals. Mixed vegetable antipasti. Pizza with bacon, smoked scamorza and a light tomato sauce. With a half liter of house wine, it came to 23 euros.
Trattoria San Domenico, Monopoli
This is a lovely small restaurant with subdued lighting (many places tend to be very brightly lit). Maltagliatti with swordfish and tomatoes, spaghetti with eggplant and tomato sauce, frittura mista, scallopine with artichoke and scamorza, grilled vegetables. Almond croccante with crème anglaise and strawberries. 60 euros including a bottle of wine.
Osteria dei Spiriti, Lecce
Can’t recall the pastas, but they were good. Meatballs, beef filet with green peppercorn sauce. Assorted grilled vegetables. Cappello di Prete 2008 Salento Rosso Candido. Elegant atmosphere with subdued lighting. 81 euros including wine.
Trattoria al Cavaliere, Monopoli
Gnocchi with artichokes and monkfish, maltagliati (can’t remember the sauce). Big portion of grilled tuna (cooked rare as it should be), frittura mista, grilled vegetables. Spumoni, chocolate mousse. Simple atmosphere, nice service, tasty food. 67 euros including wine.