The heel of the Italian boot, Apulia, has a rich culinary tradition based on fresh ingredients from both land and sea. Next to the Adriatic Sea, the Puglia city of Brinidisi draws on these traditions, with local chefs preparing an array of fresh and tasty seafood dishes and award-winning wineries are pairing their rich vintages with seasonal menus.
Acquapazza Ristorante started as one family’s dream to open a bed and breakfast restaurant. Chef Mino Martina has helped to realize this dream, sharing a passion for serving good food and wine with all of his diners. Those who are unsure what to order should seek guidance from the knowledgeable and helpful waiters who can offer a number of daily specials that are based on seasonal ingredients bought daily at the market.
Starting out as a cooperative business in 1989, Cantine Due Palme has expanded its wine production into a well-respected restaurant. Although a car may be necessary to get there, the ride is worth it. Head over at lunch for the special menu, accompanied by guides who will explain the wine making and pairing processes. While you’re there, make sure to book a wine tasting and tour, (available for groups of 6+, and includes lunch).
Customers must venture out of the Brindisi center for Masseria Li Veli, a vineyard in Cellino San Marco. In 1999, the Falvo family decided to construct a cellar on the ruins of a medieval structure. The result is an architecturally stunning property, open to visitors interested in both the history and the grapes. Visitors can both tour the factory with a guide, who will explain the entire production process, and enjoy a meal of traditional Pugliese food paired with the award-wining wines. For those who want to try the wines, but cannot make the trip, there is also a Li Veli bistro location in London.
Located just out of Brindisi in the heart of Salento, Tenuta Partemio has been making award-winning wines since the early 1900s. Although Southern Italian reds have long suffered from a bad reputation, this winery adds Primitivo and Aglianico grapes to their famous Lomazzi & Sarli wine, improving the fruity flavors. Like a number of other vineyards, they offer wine-tasting and pair the wines with Salento dishes. Just be sure to call ahead to reserve a spot on their tours.
Named after a famous myth about a gluttonous giant, Pantagruele, is a charming local restaurant serving up Brinidisi specialties. With a terrace that overlooks the backstreets of the historic centre, the restaurant is always full of locals soaking up the sun and atmosphere. The menu offers different types of pizza as well as regional specialties, such as orechiette pasta and fish. Décor is eclectic, look out for the interesting paintings.
Housed in a neo-classical building, Masseria Baroni Nuovi is a former Salento country house that been converted into a hotel with restaurant, il Gelsomino. There is daily fixed menu and waiters suggest that customers try the local dishes, all prepared with produce grown on the property’s land. Though the restaurant caters to hotel guests, external customers are welcome to enjoy the farm to table meals, though staff asks that they make a prior reservation before their arrival.
Found next to Teatro Verdi, Bar Rosso e Nero has annually been named the best bar in Puglia by the Slow Food Society. Though not a place to have dinner, owner Romolo Specchia serves fantastic drinks and snacks, which can be enjoyed either in the café or outside on warm evenings. Customers must try the ice cream, which is churned by hand and is only made with seasonal ingredients.
The folks at this pizzeria will tell you that Romanelli means a fried panzerotto (pizza pocket), a food that they have made their specialty and have been frying up since 1949. They are full of flavor and a huge hit with locals and tourists alike, in fact, Pizzeria Romanelli has become so popular that there are now also two locations in Texas and Abu Dhabi. For customers who would prefer to avoid fried foods, the restaurant also offers salads.
La Cantina ti l’artisti, isn’t just a great local restaurant, serving up regional specialties, such as horsemeat and sausages, but also a live music venue, often featuring performances from local bands. The atmosphere is a bit younger than some other restaurants, and the owners are friendly, eager to ensure that everyone enjoys their night. The menu focuses on local dishes, try the bombette (stuffed pork), while listening to the latest Brindisi brand.
A small restaurant in Brindisi’s historic center, Marc’Aurelio is a housed in a palazzo from the 1800s and is famous for serving up local Pugliese dishes at affordable prices. With about 80 seats, it’s an intimate space and perfect for raucous family gatherings. The menu features plenty of lampascioni, onions native to the region, and there are also, surprisingly, a lot of gluten-fee options. Be sure to bring cash, because credit cards are not accepted.