This post is about mid-range restaurants in Barivecchia.
There are many other small eateries offering traditional Barese cuisine at very low prices. You can read about them in my Barivecchia-eating cheaply 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.
Cianna Cianne (Intermediate B+), 5 Via Corsoli, www.lacantinadiciannecianne.com
This place was a tip from a Guardian reader and I’d agree with their synopsis of it being a ‘no nonsense place’ serving cucina tradizionale Pugliese. The service isn’t the best, but who cares if the food is as good as it is here. I’m guessing mum (Caterina Percoco) is in the kitchen performing the magic while her dour son is the floor manager. The nice waitress I had on both visits was capable of smiling though.
It’s quite hard to find being down in a dead end alley that runs up against the old city wall. It might be easiest to locate by walking along the wall and looking down into the alleys until you see it. Coming up the ramp, from Piazza Mercantile and walking along scenic Via Venezia, it’s in the fourth alley along, although you will have to descend into the fifth alley and then walk back round.
There’s lots of room inside but if you want to sit outside you should arrive at 8 as all the seats were taken by locals by 9 on the rainy Monday night I was there.
I had to wait what seemed like an eternity while all the Italian customers who had arrived after me feasted on multiple plates of antipasti while I only had a few rectangular cubes of sgagliozze (fried polenta cubes). That said they were very nice sgagliozze (A)…
…and a bottle of Salento Malvasia (B+) to keep me company. It was worth the wait in the end though.
In response to my request for ‘piatti typici’ they suggested ‘a little fish with some pasta’ which didn’t sound like much but turned out to be two huge plates of food that I struggled to finish.
The pasta was the ubiquitous Orichiette (little ears) in a simple sauce of baby tomatoes (B) which also accompanied the sizable Scorfino (Scorpion fish), along with some toasted bread to soak up the sauce.
Even though I’ve never been a fan of the bony Scorfino in the past I couldn’t fault any of it (all A).
In terms of a digestivo, I was tempted by the cream version of the Padre Peppe amaro that I’d tried at Il Pescatore below, but plumped instead for their homemade ‘grappa’, served with raisins that had been soaking in a large jar behind the bar before being ladled out by the waiter. It certainly put hairs on my chest! (B+) I got all this for €40.
My second visit was a bit of a let down sadly, which is why the overall rating has sunk to a B. I had the antipasti which were all a tasteless C, and in the case of the cozze e patate, an inedible D.
Not sure why, perhaps because it had all been pre-prepared. I would come again but would just have first and second courses.
This next place is located next to Castello Svevo, the old Norman castle.
Al Pescatore (High Intermediate B), 6/7 Piazza Federico II di Svevia
This mid-range place is described by Fodor’s as one of Bari’s best fish restaurants.
I’m sure that description is true if you are prepared to spend a bit of money, but I was on a budget and so probably didn’t experience the best this place has to offer, hence the B.
The Antipasti di Mare was fine if unexciting (mostly B).
The following Tubettini con le Cozze was slightly oversalted but fine (B).
A glass of the 2013 Chardonnay called ‘Cantele’ from the Salento IGT was good (B).
Although I enjoyed the Negroamaro ‘Illiria’, also from Salento, even more (B+). The red negroamaro grape is found only in Puglia, and especially in the Salento IGP.
Finally I tasted a shot of dark treacly amaro called Padre Peppe which seems to be the most commercially available local bitter in Bari (B+). Also described as a ‘nocino’ or ‘elixir di noci’, as it’s made with walnuts I think.
La Locanda de Federico (C?), 63 Piazza Mercantile
A Lonely Planet top pick, open every day, However, I didn’t like the atmosphere or the attitude of the staff (a common complaint on Trip Advisor).
When they wouldn’t give me one of the vacant tables on their terrace because I was a single diner, I went to the place below instead and never went back.
La Cecchina (Intermediate B-), 31 Piazza Mercantile, Tel. 080 521 4147
Recommended by some guide book. I got pleasant service from a nice lady but the food was unremarkable.
The Antipasti ‘La Cecchina’ looked nice but was rather flavourless (B-).
The Calamarata pasta Ai Frutti di Mare was ok but unspecial (B), just featuring squid, mussels and cockles and no promised chickpeas.
My tastebuds might have not been working properly though (I was very tired after working seven days straight) because a previously favourite wine (Polvanera’ s ‘Minutolo’) also failed to excite (B).Or maybe it was just served at the incorrect temperature.
Finally some sfoglia con crema pasticcera (pastries with vanilla custard) (B) and an unfiltered limoncello (B+).
It was reasonably priced though, three courses with all the usual trimmings for €43.50, which was then reduced to €40. Not too expensive, and the food was ok, but there are better places to go.
Remember to check out my Barivecchia – eating cheaply in the old town for some other options. Go to Osteria del Travi if you haven’t already!