Bari – Barivecchia – eating cheaply in the old town

Thanks to the redevelopment of the old town, Barivecchia is now full of small eateries offering traditional Barese cuisine at very low prices and this posts my most and least favourites.

There are a few mid-range places, especially around Piazza Ferrarese, which you can read about in my Barivecchia – mid range restaurants in the old town post.

For the most upmarket restaurants please see my post Bari-Posher Nosh in Mid-town Murat.

For stuff to see in Barivecchia see my post Bari-A walk around Bari’s old town.

My Google map is here.

The first two restaurants are both competitors so I review them first (one good, one bad). The other cheap places below them are in order of preference (all good).

Osteria del Travi (Elementary A), 12 Largo Chiurlia

A bit hard to find but if you walk straight along Via Sparano da Bari, cross over Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and keep going till you get to the arches, turn left through an arch and you’ll see it in front of you)

Osteria del Travi is another place bearing the title ‘Vini e Cucina’ above its door, which is simply the name of a cheap type of restaurant. It’s similar in many ways to the more famous Paglionico (see below), which Lonely Planet and many other people mistakenly calls ‘Vini e Cucina’, which is rather annoying.

I decided to try it a second time after a five year absence to see if my original comparison with its competitor was still true and fair, and I’m happy to say it was.

In 2009 I wrote this about lunch:

This place scores for simplicity of decor (wooden tables and benches) and having good simple food at a very cheap price.

We piled our plates high with antipasti and had a whole grilled bream with salad and a quarter of red for only €15 euro each.

In 2014 I wrote this about dinner:

Apparently this is the oldest eatery in the old town, founded in 1813, it has been run by a pair of brothers since 1980.

The brother I met, while being dour at first (a local quality I can appreciate as a Yorkshireman) is capable of the occasional smile and will stand and chat with his customers.

The atmosphere is simple but pleasant with wooden benches and tables covered with paper tablecloths. It probably hasn’t changed much inside since medieval times, nor have the traditional recipes it dishes up.

This time I passed on the antipasti buffet and I also decided to leave the pasta with horse gravy and horse steak till another time.


Instead I opted for the daily special Patate e Cozze (potato, rice and mussels) which allowed me to make a direct comparison with the more famous Paglionico where I’d had the same dish. It was so much better here, again a bit singed as it probably should be, and really delicious (A-).


I followed this with the ‘Arrosto di Carne’ (actually just pork) involving an excellent local sausage (A), a skewer of pork and a fillet of pork, all of which were a bit tasteless (B-). On the side a decent salad (B) and some ‘french fries’, which were more like crisps and tasted much better while hot (B-)

The rough house wine was also better (B-) than the horrible stuff at Paglionico.


To finish, a slab of apple pie (B-)…


… and a glass of their own homemade dessert wine (B) and a homemade limoncello (B).

Total cost, a miserly €25, excellent value. My advice is to come here rather than Paglionico.

Paglionico Vini e Cucina (Elementary C), 23 Strada Vallisa, off Piazza Ferrarese, Tel, 330 433 018, closed Sunday evening.

If you can find the section of uncovered Roman road on display in Piazza Ferrarese, as you’re looking at the information board, Strada Vallisa is to the left.

This place is very famous, thanks in particular I think to Lonely Planet, who list it under the name ‘Vini e Cucina’. In fact however, this title refers to a type of restaurant, traditionally much cheaper than a mid-range ‘Osteria’ (although these can also be quite expensive now) or a posh ‘Ristorante’. You won’t find a wine menu or a credit card machine in this kind of place and the ‘wines and cooking’ will be simple down-to-earth fare, which can be great, or not…

I first came in 2009 and wrote this: Run by the same family for over a century (you’d think they’d learned to cook by now), this vaulted cellar has a nice basic ambience with its paper tablecloths and simple decor. Sadly however the food was very disappointing.

The ok-ish antipasti of grilled peppers, provolone, processed ham and fried olives (A/B/C/C) were followed by seafood pasta (B) and a queasiness inducing fritto misto of prawns, sardines and squid (C). My vegetarian friend was restricted by the fixed menu to having a plate of fave bean paste (D) and cime di rape (B).

Cheap Moretti malt beer and an ok house red (B-) made the food more palatable. It does have a nice atmosphere and we only spent €20 a head but I wouldn’t go back.


Five years later in 2014 I did in fact give it a second chance in the interests of research and wrote:

Nothing has changed, not even the vivid green table cloths, which are the only thing I like about this place.

The owner is quite brusque, which I don’t have a problem with most of the time, but it would be nice to get the drinks order in as well as the food (the menu is spoken only and delivered at high speed) before he walks away to talk to his friends. We warmed to each other by the end of the night though, perhaps because I spoke some Italian, unlike many of the tourists he must get here. Unknown Italians get a similar treatment too.

I did eventually get some water and red wine, the latter being pretty rough (C-). All of the (unordered) antipasti were C (cheese, olives) or D (vinegared courgettes) except for the cured ham and a potato frittata which were B.

Next the classic Barese dish Patate e Cozze but not particularly well made here (C+).


For the second  course some cavallo (horse meat), rolled up with garlic held together with toothpicks and simmered in tomato sauce, C+ for the meat and B for the sauce.


With a slab of watermelon and a limoncello (both A) the meal came to €30.

So it’s cheap, but undeserving of it’s rep in my opinion. Personally I blame Lonely Planet for elevating Paglionico to a higher status than it should be. Osteria del Travi is my Vini e Cucina champ.

Now we’ve got that out of the way, here are some other good places…

Antico Chiosco Da U Russ (Initial A), 1 Corso Antonio De Tullio

This is a great food truck parked in a car park near the castle. I found out about it by reading an Italian food blog.

They specialise in top quality grilled meats such as wild boar, donkey and horse. I had the Salsiccia di Cinghiale, grilled Porcini mushrooms and some sirloin by the looks of it. Everything was top notch (A) except the limoncello (B) but they are very generous with it.

Panificio Fiore (Elementary A), 38

An old-school bakery, very famous for their focaccia, in a city famous for focaccia.

You need to go in the day as they’re more of a shop than a takeaway so they close in the evenings. You can buy pasta and tarelli here too.

As ever, I was up for a bit of grazing before my main meal. Foccaccia is sold by the weight so you can choose how much you want.

I had a slice of their Mozzarella and Tomato (A) with a cold Peroni. Heaven.

La Pazzeria (Elementary B), 10 Via Corrididoni

I came to this ‘crazy pizzeria’ because I needed a sit-down after pounding the streets for several hours. The staff are good guys and live up to the shop’s name.

I had a Pizza Norica, a very thin Bari style pizza with tomato, mozzarella and Salsiccia Norica (a town in Perugia famous for sausage) which was a bit singed round the edges but still very tasty (C).

I also introduced myself to the Peroni Doppio Malta (double malt) which was very good (B+). Both were €5 each.

Antipasteria Pizzeria Borgo Antico (Elementary B), 46 Strada Palazzo di Citta

Very popular with the locals, perhaps because there’s lots of outdoor seating on the street, but otherwise it looks like somewhere to avoid due to the huge posters displaying their very reasonable fixed menu deals outside the front door.

I had a pretty ugly looking Pizza Margherita di Bufala (the tomato sauce only covering about two thirds of it) but it tasted ok (B) and the limoncello was homemade and strong. Might come and try their antipasti next time I’m in town.

Antica Gelateria Gentile (Elementary A), 33 Piazza Federico II di Svevia

A well-renowned and very old school ice cream parlour opposite the castle. A coppa grande (two scoops) is €3.

I can vouch for the Antica Cream (B+) and the Pistachio (B) flavours.

Remember to look at my other posts linked at the top of this post if you want more up-market food.

You’ll find all the eateries mentioned above on my Google map.

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