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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:

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Sep 24, 2023

Like you we aren’t those kind of foodies but we love food. I don’t understand people who a. Need lots of recommendations for restaurants or b. Book their whole trip including restaurants. We have never booked and 99% of the time enjoyed a decent meal. Don’t get me started on Insta recommendations 🙈. We have discovered some real treasures on our trips. Love Monday mornings (Western Australian time) to read your blog 👍

Mark Tedesco
Mark Tedesco
Sep 25, 2023
Replying to

Fantastic and thank you. My rule of thumb, when I am exploring Rome or another European city, is to find a place to eat at least 3 blocks from the tourist area. I am usually rewarded with great food and better prices. :)


Sep 24, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you! We will be in a self guided bike trip thru Puglia starting Thursday & wl use this useful blog!

Mark Tedesco
Mark Tedesco
Sep 24, 2023
Replying to

That sounds like an INCREDIBLE adventure! Good for you; life is short. Thanks.

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