Monopoli – la città nuova

I’ve used this post to lump together anything not in the old town or on the coast (see separate posts).

Here’s my Google map to help you get around.

I’d been debating whether to go to this place for my whole stay but I couldn’t resist it on my last night…

Angelo Sabatelli Ristorante (Advanced A), 27 Viale Aldo Moro, Tel. 340 510 1419

This Michelin starred restaurant features in most of the guides and is the Trip Advisor #1 in Monopoli, all for good reason. You would pay several times more for food of this quality in the UK.

I saved myself a €15 taxi ride by walking there from the hotel which was a little unsafe as there are no pavements but it was ok while there was still light. It took about 30 minutes from the Hotel Clio. The restaurant called me a taxi for the return journey.

20140625_200244It’s located on an old country estate, now subsumed into the industrial suburbs of Monopoli. Once you turn up the drive the scenery becomes more rustic with old twisted olive trees along the wayside.

20140625_200635The restaurant building is old but decorated in a modern style, which reflects Chef Sabatelli’s philosophy of reworking traditional dishes and ingredients in new imaginative ways.

All the staff were very friendly and English-speaking and indeed about half of the twenty or so customers on the Wednesday night I went were from the UK.

I was sorely tempted by the €100 tasting menu but couldn’t really justify it on my wages, even though I’d just had pizza the night before and no lunch that day in preparation for a blowout. The €50 four-course seafood menu, which came with a few little extras, proved to be more than adequate though.

After an amuse bouche or two, the names of which I forget, I had Ricciola Crema Soffice di Patate Affumicate Capperi e Croccante di Amaranto’ translated as marinated kingfish with smoked potato cream, capers and amaranth crisps (A).

The bread basket included Taralli made with five different cereals, but I found these rather dry (C).

Next, ‘Spaghetti Benedetto Cavalieri Aglio, Olio, Peperoncino e Capesante su Salsa di ‘Maraschiuolo’ or spaghetti  with garlic, oil, chilli sauce and scallops in a wild broccoli sauce (B). The Benedetto Cavalieri company have been making pasta in Maglie Lecce in the south of Puglia since 1918.

And then, ‘Ombrina Arrosto con Zabione di Ostriche e Carciofi’ or roasted seabream with oyster sabayon and artichokes (A).

After this, ‘Zuppa Calda di Cioccolato al Latte e Bergamotto con Arancia e Crostini al Miele’ or warm milk chocolate and bergamot with orange and honey crostini (A).

Finally an assortment of sweets on slabs of marble and slate which I found to be a rather disjointed combination of flavours (C+).

I enjoyed the wine even more than the food thanks to the help of the knowledgeable sommelier, although most of that knowledge was transmitted in floral Italian. I requested all the drinks to be Puglian and he came up with a local organic Fiano called ‘Minutolo’ by Cantine Polvanera.

Fiano is a favourite grape of mine due to its beautiful fragrance, although I’ve usually only drunk it in Campania. It was fantastic (A), the best white of my four-week trip and I couldn’t stop lifting my glass. A snip at €23, compared to most of the other pricey wines in the eighty page wine list. Back in Bari I posted a dozen bottles home of the same wine, at about €7 a bottle.

For dessert the 2008 Muscat di Trani, appropriately named ‘Estasi’, was perhaps the best I’d ever tasted (A+) but I couldn’t find it in the wine shops in Bari sadly.

I also got to try a local Rosolio, a sweet liquor derived from rose petals, around 35% in strength. This base is then flavoured with other fruits, in this case ‘Gelso Rosso’ or red mulberry (B). It came from Gravina as so many Puglian liqueurs seem to do.

The bill came to €86.

Overall this was a great experience. Even if I have been a bit picky about some things, it will be a lasting memory of Monopoli.

Enoteca Il Tralcio, 33 Via Daniele Manin, open 9am till 1 and 5 till 9pm,

This place was recommended as the best wine shop in town by the local owner of a school I worked at, and he’s a guy who likes his wine so he should know.

20150408_085841Pierluigi the helpful owner chose for me a special bottle of Primativo di Manduria DOC for €22. This was a 2004 ‘Il Sava’ from Vinicola Savrese, that had been aged in terracotta jars using methods the cantina claim to be 2000 years old. I still haven’t opened it as it’s so special!

20140615_150324I also picked up a bottle of ‘Gariga’ amaro (again made in Gravina) that had impressed me at Terranima in Bari for €29.

Fratelli Meo, 53 Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II (the main square in the new town).

Also recommended by the school owner as being the  best deli in town, or certainly one of the oldest. A good place to pick up some nice ham and cheese to take home.

Caseificio Gioia In Tavola, 17 Via Paolo VI, Tel. 080 930 6720

According to the head waiter at Sabatelli, good burrata is also made in the Monopoli area (it’s most famous in nearby Andria) and ‘Joy in Table’ is the best place to get it. I haven’t been but I’m sure she’s right.

Hotel Clio (Intermediate C), 20 Via John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Tel. 080 802 711

I stayed at this fading hotel for six nights. The location isn’t too bad, it’s next to the sea, about 15 minutes’ walk from the old town (see separate posts for the Borgo Vecchio) and the train station.

The room I stayed in was basic but spacious and the Wi-Fi worked most of the time. The breakfast is unremarkable yet adequate but I’m told the food in the hotel restaurant is to be avoided.

The younger receptionists were very friendly and helpful, especially Analisa (studying for our exam), but the two miserable old toads who seem to run the place really could do with finding some other vocation in life.

The best thing about the hotel is the large outdoor pool area which was empty when I was there in mid-June. It’s also a stone’s throw from the sea should you fancy a dip in salt water instead. There is no beach just here but a lot of people swim off the rocks.

A colleague who couldn’t walk very well was put up at the Palazzo Indelli in Piazza Garibaldi which is right in the thick of things and looks much posher. Their restaurant was on my hit list but it was a bit pricey and the restaurant never seemed busy so I left it.

I’d happily put up with the Hotel Clio though if I could get to visit Monopoli again.

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