Monopoli– Borgo Vecchio – stuff to eat

This post is about food in the old town, please see my previous post for other stuff, and the next ones for other areas.

Here’s my Google map with all the places mentioned.

Osteria Perricci (Low Intermediate A), 1 Via Orazio Comes, Tel. 080 937 2208, closed Wednesday

Lauded in several Italian guides, this was the best place in the old town for me in terms of good food at a good price. They serve authentic, rustic local cuisine, and plenty of it.

I came twice and had ‘the sea’ and ‘the earth’ menu which were available for both lunch and dinner. Of the two the seafood is the best, as you would expect being so near the sea. Once I spent just €20 and another time I paid €38, because I had a bottle of wine and four courses, instead of house wine and 3 courses

Invariably you start with complimentary olives (B) and bruschetta (A) before moving onto a host of antipasti. Most of it is great except for the green gloopy Crema di Rucola on a rusk which is virtually tasteless (C+) and the dried tomatoes are a bit bitter too (C) but the sausage and young provolone are ok (B). The fried courgettes are great (A).

The green vegetable that has been fried and tossed with breadcrumbs in the picture was described as ‘asparagi di mare’ but it’s very different from samphire which gets called ‘sea asparagus’ in the UK. It was okay, a bit bitter, but certainly edible (C+).

The primi are very simple, such as their Oricchiette al Pomodoro (A), and Linguine agli Scampi (B+), served with a bowl of hot chillis in oil on the side.  The secondi similarly so, in my case chargrilled Gamberoni alla Griglia and another time Spiedino Misto alla Griglia (grilled kebab of squid and king prawn) (both B+). The house red is ok (B) but next time instead of trying the house white I upgraded to a bottle of fruity Malvasia (B+).

Dessert on one occasion was melon. I didn’t try their cakes as they looked a bit dry. To finish you could have a homemade ‘liquore di alloro’, a bay leaf liqueur (B), or a clear and quite sour limoncello (A).

The old lady running the place is a bit stern but who cares when the food is as good as it is. The other waiters are nice enough (a glum youth and a smiley man) and Roy Orbison is alive and well and working in the kitchen.

Remember you can click on these pics to get a full screen slideshow.

La Vecchia Taverna (Low Intermediate B+),33 Via Argento, Tel. 080 777 779,

Another cheap, authentic and rustic place that attracts a fair few tourists. The food is good although not quite as good as Perricci, but the owner is more friendly.

I had the €25 set menu for lunch involving some good antipasti (B), Linguine ai Frutti di Mare (B) and grilled prawns. House white (B). Can’t remember the dessert but I got a glass of Muscat di Trani dessert wine to finish.

I sat inside as it was so hot but they open a terrace at the back in the evenings. A bit of a walk from my hotel but worth it.

Il Cavaliere (Intermediate B+), 17 Via Cavaliere, Tel. 080 930 3106

This is a very good place foodwise, but the atmosphere doesn’t feel very comfortable. Mind you that might be because they gave me a table in front of the TV so I could watch England get knocked out of the 2014 World Cup by losing 2-1 to Uruguay. I didn’t let this spoil my appetite though.

I started with the Antipasti Crudo della Casa which was very fresh, and tasted even better with some local Favalosa olive oil. I can’t help wishing for some Kikkoman soya sauce and a dollop of wasabi when I eat raw seafood in Puglia though (B).

Then Malagliati (‘badly cut’) pasta with Crema di Ceci, Vongole i Gambaretti (B+), followed by a Frittura Mista (B+). They serve everything on warmed plates, a rare occurrence in Italy. All this with a bottle of Salento white (B).

I finished with a large slab of Spumoni a layered Neapolitan icecream cake (B+). Also a couple of glasses of Passito di Pantelleria dessert wine from Sicily and some complementary Sfoglia con Crema Pasticcera (pastries with vanilla custard).

The bill came to €45. A good place with good food but slightly lacking in atmosphere.

Osteria Il Gozzo (Low Intermediate C), 5 Piazza Garibaldi, Tel. 080 930 1997

In many ways the opposite of Il Cavaliere above; a pleasant atmosphere but substandard food! It looks lovely both inside and out, and the people are nice, but they need a new chef.

The only nice thing about the antipasti was the dish it was presented in. The courgettes were brackish and undercooked (C-), as was the vinegary aubergine. The octopus salad was unremarkable (B-). Carpaccio di Bacalau was a new concept for me, and not a particularly nice one (C). The following gratinated mussels were too salty (C).

Wanting to relive well known southern dishes I ordered Orecchiette (little ears) pasta con Cime de Rape (‘turnip tops’). It wasn’t until it arrived that I remembered how much I dislike the bitter green vegetable, and it was particularly unpleasant here. I picked out the pasta and left the green gloop (C-/D).

Mind you the Italians probably feel the same way about turnips. Funny how two cultures can eat different parts of the same plant.

Thankfully the Negroamaro got better as it breathed (B) and the final Sorbetto and Limoncello were both fine (B).

A place to avoid unfortunately.

Pizzeria The King (Elementary B+), 31 Via Orazio Comes,

I like this place. They sell good pizzas and fritti but the best thing is that you can eat al fresco under an awning in a nice little square. I had their pizza and fish & chips on separate occasions, both were very good (B+).

They also sell Puccia, spelt flour breadcakes baked in a wood-fired pizza oven and which are used to make sandwiches filled with ham, cheese, rocket etc.

NB the previous link lists lots of other interesting Puglian dishes too. Just run the text through Google translate.

The middle aged guy who owns it (an Elvis lover?)  is very friendly and will practice his English on you. He also makes excellent homemade limoncello and he sold me a bottle to take home at a very reasonable price.

La Dolce Vita (Intermediate B), 29 Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, Tel. 080 410 7816

A popular pizza bar on the buzzing Piazza Garibaldi. I don’t know why I came here, probably because The King was closed and I wanted something easy and simple after a big lunch somewhere else. My Margarita was fine, but so it should be (B).

I had a Poretti beer here for the first time (B+). Produced in Varese in Lombardia, they’re now owned by Carlsberg quelle surprise.

Wunderbar Café (Intermediate A), 31 Corso Pintor Marneli

The name is cheesy but this German pub seems to be the buzziest place back street place in town for a midweek drink. They do food as well but I haven’t tried it. Their cocktails are good though and the atmosphere is fun and friendly.

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