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Puglia/Basilicata Report


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Restaurants & Bars 2

Puglia/Basilicata Report

badwaiter | Sep 10, 2007 05:00 AM

We enjoyed a spot of suicide tourism a few weekends ago cramming Alberobello, Matera and Lecce into a three day weekend. No regrets about the amount of time spent in the former locations but the latter is worth a longer stay for both the town and the surroundings. Unfortunately, we didn't eat really well in Lecce but it was our own fault. On the other hand we found some great places in Matera and Alberobello.

Matera: Il Cantuccio (Via Delle Beccherie 33) Right on the edge of the Sassi, this trattoria offered friendly service and a nice atmosphere. Even though this area is technically in Basilicata, like Puglia it featured great antipasti. Their antipasti plate was composed of a variety of items including a tiny porcini soup, a great zucchini sott'olio with fennel seed, a "sformato" of cime di rape and a caponata. For lunch my wife and I both ate primi. Her dish was the star-- Strascinate (like flat orecchiette) with crunchy pepper (pepperoni crusco) and a cream of black beans. It was very different and very tasty. I ate orecchiette with sugo di braciole and vino aglianico. It was good but I wish I ordered the other plate. They had a decent wine list but I didn't want an entire bottle at lunch so I drank house red which was fine.

Alberobello: La Cantina (Vicolo Francesco Lippolis 8) This restaurant is in the slow food book and in my opinion is everything a slow food place should be. For traditional food this is one of the best restaurants I have visited in all of Italy. There's no menu, just what's on offer that day. You order and if you are lucky enough to be facing the kitchen area, watch your food being prepared from scratch. Watching the owner, Francesco, was a free cooking class. Everything was prepared fresh, quickly and right on time. I apologize that I can't accurately name the plates, as I said there was no menu. At any rate, the antipasti plate was a meal in itself. It starts with fresh burrata, ricotta and mozzarella, there was fried zucchini in an agrodolce, and foccacia. They also served roasted baby potatoes and three kinds of salame. Lunch was plates of fresh orecchiette with shrimp (for me) and tomato basil and cheese for my wife. The food, as mentioned, was very simple but truly stood out. For desert I had homemade "Basil-cello." They didn't call it that but it was basically limoncello made with basil. I cannot recommend this place highly enough.

Lecce: Lecce gets started late. We had an aperitivo and then just ate sandwiches. The owner of our hotel recommended a few dinner spots but then when I reminded him it was Sunday he said they were all probably closed. Eventually quite a few places did open but many restaurants were still empty at 8:30. Unfortunately we were hungry after walking around all day. What was special was a pastry I had earlier in the day from Natale Pasticceria. Remember the Simpsons when Homer became a food critic and the restaurateurs tried to kill him with an eclair so rich he would die if he ate it? This was kind of like that. Three kinds of chocolate...a pudding center, icing on the top and chocolate sauce. I don't remember the address but it is right off the main square and you can't miss everyone standing outside eating gelato.

The first two pictures are Il Canuccio, the next one is La Cantina and the last is the pastry of death.

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