How are you? How important is food to you?
I admit that it is pretty important to me. When we bought Casa Vita, I envisioned a big table with all our kids and their partners, and lots of delicious Italian food.
Honestly, I cannot name one Italian dish I do not like – a disaster for my weight yes, but not for my mood!
The photo on top is my own homemade food: a salad with arugula, fresh figs from the yard, lettuce, small tomatoes, ricotta cubes and a dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crushed figs. The other plate has grilled veggies: zucchini, zucchini flowers, eggplant and fresh mozzarella. Photo by Mable Photography.
Guests traveling to Casa Vita often ask me for recommendations for good restaurants. So I will make up a list below, but you should not refrain from discovering new restaurants … There is so much good food in Puglia. If you are visiting a town, try to wander of the main paths and piazzas and find your way into the smaller alleys. Who knows what you will discover.
Here are some delicious ideas
Carovigno is a small but lovely town near Ostuni, with a beautiful piazza.
- Osteria gia sotto l’arco: this is a restaurant we can certainly recommend, a magical ‘gastronomia’ mingled with tradition and creativity!
Martina Franca is a fair-sized town in the heart of Puglia. It has some ugly modern areas, but the town’s jewel is its lovely historic center, a memorable maze of winding alleys, where whitewashed simplicity sits side by side with baroque extravagance. The town is built on a hill in the green Valle d’Itria, the trulli area of Puglia. It is about a twenty minute drive from Casa Vita. Martina Franca is an incredibly photogenic town, and it has some beautiful clothing stores too.
- Garibaldi bistrot: beautiful location, near the Cathedral, pure and good Puglian food, delicious wines, friendly owners.
- I templari: delicious food, not in the center, but it has a really nice terrace, and also the inside is beautiful.
- Mehta: I haven’t been there myself. But my friend Susan recommended it. It is high-end cooking, and the desserts are fabulous. I will surely visit next time and will keep you posted!
- Terra Terra: This is a smaller and cheaper restaurant located in one of the small alleys. The food is also very good, and they serve vegan dishes too.
- Nausicaa: Also a top restaurant, with a big collection of wines.
Casa Vita is officially located in Ostuni, but in fact, in distance it is between the two beautiful towns, Ostuni ànd Ceglie. Ostuni is called la città bianca, it is a white town on a hill. I cannot visit Ostuni enough, it has so many beautiful alleys, piazzas, stairways… Each time you discover something new. If you find your way (it took me some time to figure out how to get to a certain restaurant) to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view on the sea.
- Bella Vista: a nice view, if you are sitting outside at the right spot, you can see the sea. They have great pizzas and antipasti!
- Taverna della gelosia: it is located between different street levels, beautiful to sit outdoors on the patio, under the trees. The food is delicious and a good choice of wines too. The staff can be a bit stiff though.
- Il Cielo: this is located in a hotel and has a Michelin Star. Also on our list, must be worth a visit!
Casa Vita is situated between Ceglie and Ostuni. Ostuni is beautiful and magical, but also touristic. While Ceglie is more of a hidden treasure. It’s not as big as Ostuni, but here you find more local people. I love the piazza with the bell tower. You can sit here all evening, watching the men hang around in groups, the elderly men with three on a bench, families gathering, kids playing on the square till midnight. This is still the real Puglia. And you can eat very well for less money than in Ostuni.
- Cibus: a great restaurant, but more meat-orientated. The antipasti we got there were sublime, really delicious.
- Osteria Pugliese: very typical food. You’ll have enough if you order the antipasti della casa. It is very cozy inside.
- Pizzeria Grex Ludi: it is the only pizzeria on the main piazza – the piazza with the bell tower. You can eat great pizzas for three or four euros!
- Trattoria Piaceri e Tradizione: just behind the corner of the square. The cook Giuseppe will prepare you a delicious typical meal. And if you can, sit outside on the balcony, and you’ll have a beautiful view.
- Antimo: this restaurant is not in the town, but in the countryside on your way to Ceglie, when you come from Casa Vita. It is an organic farm. They use a lot of ingredients from their own land. The stuffed (with ricotta) zucchini flowers are delicious. You can also follow cooking courses here.
Locorotondo doesn’t really have any specific tourist attractions; the town itself is the main sight. It is also a small town on the top of a hill. It’s just a pleasant place to spend an hour or two wandering, taking photographs and sitting at cafe tables.
- U’Curdunn: Great restaurant and very cozy and beautiful inside too. Good service and excellent wines.
- La taverna del Duca: Delicious food, and you can also follow courses ‘how to make your own pasta’!
Alberobello is thé trulli-town and Unesco world heritage site. It is also terribly touristic, a visit during the summertime is a challenge. But I can recommend a very good restaurant just outside the center.
- Fidelio: A beautiful garden, magical to sit outside, but very attractive interior too, and exquisite food!
Polignano a Mare
This magical town at the rocky cliffs sure is worth a visit. It has many touristic restaurants (not all with a good price-quality balance), but I want to quote these two.
- Mint: I have been here with a friend, and Daughter has visited with her boyfriend. Excellent kitchen, vegetarian too. It is such a small but beautiful restaurant!
- Grotta Palazzese: This is more an experience than a good restaurant. You pay for the view and the experience, because you dine in a cave. Check the site, it is worth going there. But you need to know it is not cheap.
Lecce is one hour drive from Ostuni, and it is often called the Florence of the South. Lecce has a lovely historic center (centro storico), and travelers can easily spend a day or two exploring picturesque little lanes and finding the more far-flung Baroque churches. The town’s great artistic treasure is its architecture.
- Bros’: You wouldn’t think if you see it from outdoors, but this is a superior restaurant. I have had the pleasure to devour their menu, together with my American friends, last year in May. And look who’s been here too! For readers not from Belgium or Holland, this is Sergio, a famous chef de cuisine, who has received three Michelin stars in one of his restaurants.
Buon appetito! Sophia