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  • Writer's pictureMark Tedesco

Our Italian Adventure: Eating out in Puglia

PART 61: It might be interesting to share how we pulled off living in Italy for part of the year. I will post some steps we took.

We live in Puglia in the summer and then back again in the winter.

Step 1: I have to admit that I am not a foodie (if one defines a foodie as someone who researches the best and most prestigious restaurants online and then goes to experience them).

That is not me.

But I love good food and a pleasant, friendly atmosphere, so my favorite places to eat out are simple and more hole-in-the-wall establishments.

I will share some of mine, and please feel free to share some of yours in the comments.

Step 2: Lecce

  • Braceria Toro Nero is an excellent restaurant in the historical center of Lecce, with fresh food, outdoor seating, and friendly staff. A large display of meat draws hungry carnivores, and a varied menu that can appeal to anyone. The dishes are also very reasonably priced. We already have our favorite dishes, and it is our go-to restaurant in Lecce.

  • Antica Pizzeria da Michele needs no introduction since it is the best pizza in Lecce, and everyone who visits the city knows it.

  • Settimo Cielo is an independent (not a chain) gelateria with the freshest and most delicious gelato in Lecce (according to…me). Angelo is the proprietor who works hard day and night. Make sure to say hello to him.

  • Pollicastro Boutique Hotel Bar is in the historical center of Lecce and is unique because the owner handcrafted all the art pieces, chandeliers, and furniture. It is a boutique hotel, but there is a bar with an amiable bartender who welcomes everyone. There are several amazingly furnished rooms to browse or enjoy one's drink. It is another world in the heart of Lecce.

Step 3: Nardo'

  • Caffè Parisi is an elegant bar/cafe in the center of Nardo', which is a great place to meet people, grab a coffee, and order one of their incredible pastries.

  • Bar Piazza Salandra is across the piazza from Parisi and is locally owned and family-run. It has an informal and friendly atmosphere; its menu is interesting, including great salads, sandwiches, and vegetarian fare. We like the friendly atmosphere and all the menu choices when we are hungry.

Step 4: Otranto.

  • Forno 2m is a great takeaway place for incredible cold and hot food. They also have a bakery; the site is very popular with locals who grab a few wishes and wisk them home for lunch. The staff is helpful, the prices are excellent, and the food is always fresh. It is a local secret that I am sharing here.

Step 5: Santa Catarina

  • Momento coffee bar is in front of the Ionian Sea. Is that reason enough to go there? Yes, but there is more. They make excellent coffees and baked goods and recently brought on board a gelato maker, Francesco, who creates homemade gelatos daily. The establishment is also open at night, serving drinks and sandwiches, and it is hopping. But the mornings are calm and beautiful; we start our day every day there.

Step 6: Galatina

  • Staglio Forno is a great bakery and pizza place with incredible bread, rolls, and pizza. I have heard that Galatina has some great restaurants, but we are often there on the go, so this place is perfect for us.

Insights: Since we are in Salento, most of our eating experiences are in that region, which has shown no lack of variety, freshness, and friendliness. We love locally owned establishments that we can help support and make known. Here in Puglia, food becomes an exercise for the taste buds and a way of forging bonds.

More next time.

My book is "Stories from Puglia: Two Californians in Southern Italy." Amazon US:

And also, on Amazon Italy:

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