Archive for the Bari Category

Bari – a drink and a bite in the Porto Vecchio

Posted in Bari, Italy, Porto Vecchio, Puglia with tags , on February 25, 2019 by gannet39

The Porto Vecchio is the old harbour to the east of the town. Map here.

This is where many of the fishermans’ boats are moored, the traditional blue Gozzi.

Molo San Nicola is the southern pier of the Porto Vecchio. You can get some nice views across the water towards the old town from here.

You can buy fresh seafood directly from the gruff fishermen who sell their catch on the pier. Freshly prepared Ricci (sea-urchins) were on sale the afternoon I went.

It’s a popular spot for people to hang out with friends and listen to reggae music from the bar, El Chiringuito. Video here.

El Chiringuito specialises in two things; Peroni, the quintessential Barese beer, and tomato and mozzarella Panzerotti, like small Calzoni but deep-fried rather than baked. I’ve been spoilt so these score a B with me but they they do hit the spot with a cold beer.

Peroni begain life in the north of Italy in 1846 but in 1924 they opened a new production plant in Bari which was the beginning of the company becoming a national beer. You can see photos of the plant and old Peroni trucks on the walls of the bar.

This is a cool little spot. I’ll check it at sunset next time.

Bari – food shops and friendly bars

Posted in Bari, Barivecchia, Italy, Murat, Puglia with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2019 by gannet39

My favourite bar in Bari is La Taverna del Maltese (Intermediate B+) at 67 Via Nicolai. It’s an everyone-friendly bar with PACE flags on the wall and a large screen for watching the football inside. There was an excellent jazz three piece playing live on a Thursday night when I last went.

They do food outside on the spacious terrace at the back but I’ve never tried it. There are a few, mainly German, draught beers on offer which are fine. On my last visit the barkeep taught me that a double limoncello (€4) is called a ‘regular’.

There are a few pubs near the Hotel Villa Romanazzi Carducci on Via Carducci but they are all pretty rubbish. Much better to go to the other side of the tracks I think. There are several bars along Corso Emanuele (at the old town end) which come into their own at the weekend.

My map is here.

I like to fill my bag with treats before I go home. Here are the shops in Quartiere Murat in the mid-town that I go to…

Enoteca Vinarius De Pasquale at 87 Via Marchese di Montrone is a sizable wine shop, founded in 1911, with an extensive range of Puglian wines. They also have an online shop.

In 2017 I took a long list of all the wines I’d enjoyed at restaurants all over Puglia and managed to get a good selection for my pop-up restaurant ClandesDine.

In 2014, their efficient staff helped me post a dozen bottles of Fiano ‘Minutolo’ by Cantina Polvanera back home and they all arrived safe and sound. I think they worked out at about £10 a bottle in the end, only about 25% more than their price in Italy which was very cheap to start with.

Cantina Cairoli is another big enoteca at 81 Via Cairoli nearby that you could use for back up. Local varietals recommended by my national manager Claudia (who is also a qualified sommelier!) are the reds Primitivo Manduria and Nero di Troia.

An excellent deli is Salumeria de Carne Francesco at 128 Via Calefati. In 2009 I managed to get a bottle of Fragolino (an apertivo infused with whole wild strawberries) from here. Fragolino was hard to get at the time because the alcohol was too low for it to be considered a wine, leading to an uncertain legal status.

Near Piazza Ferrarese you should check out the fantastic displays of cheeses and hams at Salumiere Nino at 31 Strada Vallisa even if you’re not buying.

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Taralli biscuits are a local speciality, the fennel (finocchio)and onion flavours being especially tasty but ideally they should be eaten a day or two after purchase. I’ve yet to identify the best bakery for them but the original branch of Panaficio Fiore in the old town might be a good bet (see my Barivecchio – Eating Cheaply in the Old Town post).

If you’re looking for chocolates and bonbons, Marnarid in Barivecchia near the cathedral is a very traditional sweet shop.

Confitteria Mucci at 116 Via Principe Amedeo is another sweet shop in mid-town with a lot of tradtion (see my Andria post).

Please see my separate posts for food and architecture in the old town.

Bari – Barivecchia – mid range restaurants in the old town

Posted in Bari, Barivecchia, Italy, Puglia with tags , , , on February 24, 2019 by gannet39

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)…

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…and a bottle of Salento Malvasia (B+) to keep me company. It was worth the wait in the end though.

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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.

20140616_211327The 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.

20140616_211409Even though I’ve never been a fan of the bony Scorfino in the past I couldn’t fault any of it (all A).

20140616_215715In 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.

20140614_204205My 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

20140614_223810This mid-range place is described by Fodor’s  as one of Bari’s best fish restaurants.

20140614_204644I’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.

20140614_204205The Antipasti di Mare was fine if unexciting (mostly B).

20140614_215754The following Tubettini con le Cozze was slightly oversalted but fine (B).

20140614_203604A 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+).

20140614_215327The red negroamaro grape is found only in Puglia, and especially in the Salento IGP.

20140614_224308Finally 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-).

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The Calamarata pasta Ai Frutti di Mare was ok but unspecial (B), just featuring squid, mussels and cockles and no promised chickpeas.

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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+).

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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!

Bari – Barivecchia – a walk around Bari’s old town

Posted in Bari, Barivecchia, Italy, Piazza Ferrarese, Piazza Mercantile, Puglia with tags , , , , , on February 23, 2019 by gannet39

Barivecchia, also know as Quartiere San Nicola, was once quite dodgy, virtually a no-go area for tourists at night. Nowadays, thanks to redevelopment, it’s much safer, though still a thoroughly working class area.

There’s little point using a map in this warren of alleys and narrow streets. It’s best just to wander around and try to keep a sense of direction.

Here’s my Google map anyway.

Good luck asking for directions. The Barese are nationally famous for having a strong dialect, but within Bari itself, the inhabitants of Barivecchia are renowned for having a lexis that even the rest of the city finds hard to understand. Personally I find both the people and the place fascinating.

The logical place to start a walk is in the Piazzas Ferrarese and Mercantile, the two main squares in the heart of the old town. They blend into each other imperceptibly and are effectively two sides of the same square. This is where many Barese, especially the youth, come to socialise on a warm evening.

In Piazza Mercantile you can see the Palazzo della Provincia and its clock tower, once the home of the provincial administration, built in 1936.

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In Piazza Mercantile you can see La Colonna della Giustizia, ‘the column of justice’.

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It was a stone punishment pole to which fraudulent debtors were tied and lashed.

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Around the square you’ll see women selling the traditional local street food, sgagliozze, aka fried polenta cubes. Polenta is slowly growing on me (love it with kale and blue cheese) but I don’t see what the fuss is about here. I think you probably have to be brought up on the stuff to fully appreciate it.

Both piazzas are lined with restaurants, a couple of which are recommended by various guides. While I might come here for a drink I personally would avoid most of the eateries around here. They’re not bad, just very average in my opinion (see my Barivecchia – eating cheaply in the old town post for some alternatives).

The next main sight is the Duomo di Bari, or Cattedrale di San Sabino, built in the late 12th century.

The streets around here are very atmospheric, especially at night.

Just a short distance away is the Castello Svevo di Bari www.beniculturali.it.

It was built in 1132 by the Normans.

With your back to the bridge going over the moat to the entrance of the castle you will notice two archways leading into the old town. The first one on the left is called Arco Basso which is the street of the pasta makers.

You’ll see their wares drying in mesh bottomed boxes on the street.

I bought 500g each of Cavatelli and ‘Maccatoni’ (spelling?) for €2 and €2.50 respectively which for an artisan product is, as we say in Yorkshire, as cheap as chips. Keep them out of the plastic bag for a while though so the pasta can dry completely, unless you’re cooking it straight away.

Another nice church is the Basilica San di Nicola www.basilicasannicola.it (admission free).

This is where the relics of Father Christmas are kept.

So lots to see and do. You might want to merge the walk with grazing on some food, for which see my post Barivecchio-Eating Cheaply in the Old Town.

A quick lunch in Mola di Bari

Posted in Bari, Italy, Mola di Bari, Puglia with tags on April 5, 2015 by gannet39

Mola di Bari  or Mola for short, is the local fishing port where all the restaurants in Bari get their seafood from. It’s a short train ride from Bari Centrale and then a bit of a walk from the station to the seafront.

I was told by the manager of La Bul back in Bari that the best time to go shopping for seafood is at 5pm when the boats return to land their catches. I’m sure they sell some of it directly on the quayside too but there’s also the fish market on Lungomare Dalmazia. It was closed at midday when I drove past so presume it’s only open in the mornings.

I spent a day working in school here so I didn’t get to see much, however the teacher did take me for a short drive, followed by a nice lunch with some excellent and very cheap seafood at one of the restaurants on Via Lungara Porto.

The town feels very impoverished and there isn’t really a special reason to visit unless you love seafood, but they do have an impressive Norman castle.

Bari – south of the tracks in Picone

Posted in Bari, Italy, Puglia with tags , , , , , on April 5, 2015 by gannet39

Picone is the district to the immediate south of the central train station. My employer usually uses two hotels both located on or near Via Capruzzi, a main road which runs parallel to the tracks on the southern side of the station. Thanks to some barmy city planning, the railway effectively cuts the city in half which is a pain for us on the wrong side.

As a relatively fit bloke I don’t mind the walk to Barivecchia or mid-town Murat (click on the names to go to separate posts) but it can be a bit edgy coming back through the station later at night.

Alternatively you could get to the other side via the underpass or the bridge marked on this Google map, which also has all the other places I mention in my posts.

Should you not care for the walk, I’m sure there is good food to be found on the south side, but the choice is much more limited. Here’s what I know:

La Tana del Blasco (Elementarty B+), 252D Via Capruzzi

A postage stamp sized bar where you can sit outside under the porticos and watch the traffic go by. It’s a good spot for a aperitif and some finger food after work. I had the misfortune to see England lose to Italy in the 2014 World Cup here surrounded by students, but don’t let that put you off.

Focacceria Fiore (Elementary B+), 232 Via Capruzzi

Bari is famous for focaccia and they make a good one here (B+). Timing is everything though. Try to catch them when the foccacia is fresh out of the oven, you’ll be able to smell it down the street when it is.

It might be an idea to ask when the next batch is due out because if  you leave it too late, there’s a good chance they’ll have sold out.

Trattoria Giulio Cesare (Intermediate B-), Piazza Giulio Cesare, about 10 mins walk from the Excelsior.

I came here with my veggie friend Mark in October 2009.  My Spaghetti Vongole was fine (B) and my vegetarian friend’s Pasta Arabbiata was good (B) until he found a large chunk of beef in it (D) and realised the sauce was a ragu rather than the more usual tomato and chilli sauce.

Lesson learned, ask the waiter about the ingredients before you eat a supposedly veggie sauce in Puglia.

In short, good food for carnivores at a reasonable price, plain decor, nothing special.

I can’t comment on the food as I haven’t been but Macelleria Signorile at 12 Via Giulio Petroni gets heaps of reviews on Trip Advisor, which is a good sign for this area of town. Reservations only apparently. Must try it next time.

Also a colleague says good things about L’Osteria di Mario at 109 Via Gioacchino Toma.

There’s a supermarket at 166 Via Capruzzi and a gym at 230.

Mercure Villa Romanazzi Carducci (High Intermediate A), 326 Via Giuseppe Capruzzi, www.accorhotels.com

A fantastic hotel with modern rooms and nice grounds. I always get a great view of the swimming pool but sadly no time to use it.

There’s a generally well-equipped gym but inexplicably they have no floor mats. Ventilation doesn’t seem to be a consideration either.

The breakfast buffet is very extensive. If you ask, they’ll make you omelettes and other eggy creations in the open kitchen. You can also have your oj freshly squeezed. Obviously the coffee machine is rubbish (C-) but again the bar will make you a proper one on request.

Hotel Excelsior Bari (Intermediate C), 15 Via Giulio Petroni,

Unfortunately when the Villa Romanazzi is full we end up here.

The rooms are a bit cramped but basically okay but the overall atmosphere is gloomy and faded with hardly any guests.

The breakfast is pretty desperate but the staff are nice and helpful.

The Wi-Fi is hopeless so get an ethernet cable from reception. but even this doesn’t always work either.

There’s a basic gym in the cellar but it costs €10 a day!

Inexplicably rooms cost about the same as Villa Romanazzi.

Oh well, at least you’re nearer the station.

We are also sometimes put up at the Grand Hotel Leon D’Oro www.grandhotelleondoro.it on the town side of the station.

I’ve not stayed there but by all accounts there’s nothing Grand about it!

Bari – posher nosh in mid-town Murat

Posted in Bari, Italy, Murat, Puglia with tags , , , , on April 5, 2015 by gannet39

Please see my previous post for buildings, bars and shops in Murat. This post is just about restaurants. Most of the more modern mid range to high end places seem to be in this neighbourhood. Here’s my Google map with everywhere on.

La Pignata (Advanced A), 173-175 Corso Vittorio Emmanuele

This is my new favourite up-market place in Bari having knocked El Bul (see below) off the top spot after my visits to both in 2017. They are both on opposite sides of the same block so if you can’t get into one for whatever reason, you can always try the other. You have to ring the bell to get in at both places so don’t think they are shut if you try the door and it doesn’t open.

The proprietor is 82-year old Mr. Franco Vicenti who warmed to me for asking to try the local specialities of his choosing in my iffy Italian. He is a very warm-hearted outgoing person and spends a lot of time walking around the tables and talking to his customers who obviously hold him in high regard. I felt honoured when he told me I was ‘under his protection’ by which I presume he meant he’d look take care of all the culinary decisions!

After a welcome plate of warm foccaccia (A)…

…followed by Fried Baby Squid (B+) and then the Misti di Mare della Casa (C)(blurred pics sorry) which was served in old school style, as were all the dishes, under a silver cloche to be whipped off under a customer’s nose to surprise them. I’d never experienced this so it was quite fun.

Next a primo of the local classic Fave e Chicoria (B+).

After this another primo (not on the bill?) of unusually brown Orecchiette, perhaps made with Grano Arso, burnt wheat flour, and grated ricotta. Whilst discussing the dish I learned that Ricotta Marchotica is ricotta made in March and is better than that of other months.

With these a couple of glasses of Chardonnay (B+).

Next, a secondo of Lamb in a a slightly oversalted mushroom sauce (B+) with rosemary roast potatoes (A).

Which I had with a glass of Negroamaro (B). Got better after a while so maybe it should have had longer to breathe.

Then a Sorbetto to clean the palate (B+) followed by a Sporcomusso ‘dirty mouth’ cakes (B+) to dirty it again.

I had a Moscato di Trani sweet wine to accompany this but (B).

With a tiny slice Cassata cake (A), some almond brittle (B+), a shot of Grappa (B+) and a Macchiato (B) the final bill came to €75, which was great value.

This was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had in an Italian restaurant and I’ve made a vow to be a faithful customer as long as they continue to be open. Do try and go.

Terranima (High Intermediate A), 213 Via Nicolò Putignani, Tel. 080 521 9725, www.terranima.com

Another one of my favourite places in town, it’s also a Gambero Rosso selection and a Lonely Planet top pick. You can eat reasonably-priced well-cooked traditional fare, served by nice people in pleasant surroundings. What more could you ask for?

Everything I’ve eaten here is A/B and their own label house red is a good buy. They have some interesting local amari should you like this kind of digestivo.

On two different occasions I spent €35 and €45, which was good value for money.

La Bul (Advanced A), 52 Via Pasquale Villari, Tel. 080 523 0576, www.ristorantelabul.com

Off the beaten path so a little hard to find. It looks like it’s shut but ring the bell and they’ll let you in.

From 2017:

El Bul (Advanced B), 52 Via Villari (around the block from Pignata)

I really liked this place when I last came in 2014. It’s still good but I think I preferred their Menu Territorio (€55) rather than the Menu Mare (€60) which I had this time, and it was nicer to sit outside in their backyard in the summer rather than their inside dining room at the front . They also have a Menu Internazionale and a Vegetariano, both for €60.

After a Spritz (B), lots of nice bread (A) and a few amuse bouches like a shot of Gazpacho (B) and a Canatbrian anchovy (B), I began properly with Battuto di Mazzancolle, Spuma di Ricotta e Buccia di Cedro, or pink shrimp tartare, ricotta cheese mousse and cedar skin (A).

Next, Triglia Cruda, Bietole Arlecchino e Acqua di Aglio Nero, that is raw red mullet, “arlecchino” swiss chard and black garlic water, which was a bit too salty (C+).

Sgombro Affumicato in Casa, Coffettura e Gelee di Friggitello, or smoked mackerel, little sweet pepper confiture and gelee (A).

Cappelletti Neri di Latticello, Brodo di Cicale di Mare e Verdure, or ‘little hats’ of black, stuffed pasta, mantis shrimps and vegetable consommé (B).

Dentice, Zuppa di Olive Leccine e Croccante di Pane Azzimo, or sea bream, “leccina” black olive soup and crunchy unleavened bread (C).

Torta alle Nocciole, Cioccolato Fondente e Scaglie di Sale, that is, nut cake, dark chocolate and flakes of salt (A).

With this, a lovely glass of Passito sweet wine which could have done with being chilled (A-).

Antonio is a nice chap and a very talented chef but I found some of his creations a bit hit and miss on this occasion (A/B+/B/C). I received excellent service again from his partner Francesca but I wasn’t too keen on the dour male waiter or his timid female trainee.

One of my justifications for coming to these fine dining establishments is to try their wines so that I can select the best ones for my pop-up restaurant ClandesDine but only one scored higher than a B. I really liked the Tramari rose wine (B+) and later ordered a few for the cellar.

With water, and seven glasses of wine the final bill came to €105. I also tried a couple of their wonderfully perfumedgrappas (B+ and A-) which did not appear on the bill. I was slightly disappointed with the food but I would still absolutely recommend them.

Be careful if you go to their loo…

From 2014:

The interior is bright and modern but I preferred to sit in their pleasant yard with its honeysuckle covered walls. The helpful and friendly co-owners Antonio, the young chef, and Francesca, the manager, both speak  English and are always chatting with their customers.

I had the €50 tasting menu which was good value given the quality of the food and that included a few glasses of wines from Salento. There was more than one amuse bouche as I remember but the star was a grissini wrapped with what I understand was cured pigs cheek. It was a flavour epiphany for me (A+).

Next I had Mazzancolle al Vapore e Acqua dei Tre Pomodori (steamed king prawn with three types of small tomato). This and other dishes were garnished with a wild herb called ‘limoncello’ (due to its lemony taste) which Antonio told me grows wild on the rooves of Trulli.

Francesca told me their seafood had come from Mola di Bari  the local port where I was working the next day (please see separate post).

I followed on with Risotto al Peperone Crusco, Straccatella e Polvere di Alici (risotto with red peppers, creamy mozzarella and powdered anchovies).

Maialino con Gelatina di Mocato di Trani e Salsa di Aglio Dolce (a tiny piece of piglet with a fig and a jelly of local muscat wine and sweet garlic sauce).

Varazione di Crumble e Crema agli Agrumi (I think apple crumble with citrus infused cream).

Finally my favourite Amaro di Capo, enlivened with a strip of orange peel.

The final bill came to €55, which is good value for what I got I felt.

All excellent and highly recommended for a treat. Definitely on the favourites list.

Biancofiore (High Intermediate B+), Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, Tel. 080 523 5446, www.oraviaggiando.it Closed Wednesday

Another modern and slightly posh place but still friendly. I had their tasting menu for €35 which was good value.

This involved Calamaretti Scottati con Piselli e Scaglogno al Forno (seared squid with peas and shallots baked in the oven).

Cappellacci con Mantecato di Baccala su Vellutata di Asparagi e Scaglie di Bottarga (a stuffed pasta filled with cream of saltcod and asparagus and shavings of mullet roe).

Trancio di Ombrina con Parmentier di Patata, Rucola e Friggitello Saltato (local fish with mashed potato, rocket and pan fried green peppers).

Soffice ai Frutti di Bosco con Salsa allo Yogurt (forest berries with a yogurt sauce), and a couple of little extras including glasses of Muscat di Trani and their own thick, treacly, homemade nocino (a local amaro made with walnuts).

So in short a modern, friendly place that serves good food at a good price.

Ai 2 Ghiottoni (Advanced A/B), 11B Via Putignani, Tel. 080 5233330, www.ai2ghiottoni.it

This is generally considered to be the best place in town. It is good but a bit too high end for me. I’ve been twice and had two different experiences, once as a lone diner and once as part of a group.

When I went by myself in 2014 I received a warm welcome from the tactile owner but was underwhelmed by the slightly snooty service. Perhaps to be expected as I tend to show up in t-shirt, jeans and trainers.

In 2009 I’d had my first taste of burrata here which was a flavour epiphany at the time but I wasn’t that impressed by it this time (B), perhaps because it was a day old. The fresh ricotta it came with was amazing though (A).

The Bavette (‘little dribble’, thinner and wider than linguine) ai Frutti di Mare was good for the price (B+). Everything else was fine except the unsolicited house special, the Spaghetti Assassina I think, long pasta tossed in singed chilli oil, which was one of the worst things I’ve ever eaten in an Italian restaurant (D). And it’s their special! Maybe I just caught a bad one…

I did have one good new experience though. Their homemade ‘Mandarino’ made a nice change from limoncello, but you wouldn’t want to drink too much of it (B).

The bill came to €44 which isn’t too bad but I don’t think I’ll be back by myself.

In 2009 I wrote: Eleven of us went to this fantastic restaurant (appropriately named ‘The Two Gluttons’) after a training convention and had a huge multi-course banquet with drinks for only €40 a head.

Our starters included some sublime ricotta, burrata mozzarella (hard exterior and a soft interior filled with cream ) and panzerotti (deep fried air pockets of dough filled, in this case, with mozzarella) and a salad of boletus mushrooms with celery and parmesan (all A).

Also nice were the fried olives, polenta, two types of octopus, some other grilled mushrooms, omelette and deep fried polenta (B).

My main was a plate of grilled prawns and scampi (A), one neighbour loved her Orecchiette with Cime di Rape (a member of the broccoli family) and another the Spaghetti Assassina (pasta coated in chilli and tomato and flash-fried).

The wines were a wonderful Negromaro red (Cantine due Palme)(A) and the white a Locorotondo DOC (Bianco Vendemmia ’08) (B+).

And then came dessert! Several plates piled high with canoli, baba, sfogliatelle, fruit tarts, almond macaroons, figs , pomegranate (A) as well as chocolate balls, roast chestnuts, a huge bowl of liquorice, a slab of chocolate and jugs of homemade limoncello (B).

Pizzeria O’Chalet (Intermediate B), 18 Via Domenico Nicolai, Tel. 080 523 8303

Recommended by a colleague for its seafood, this reasonably priced family restaurant is quite handy if you’re staying at the Hotel Leon D’Oro. The Neapolitan style pizza is supposed to be good too.

Everything I had (Cavatelli ai Frutti di Mare and char-grilled baby squid) was fine (B). The cooking is simple and the portions are generous which is all you want most of the time.

I couldn’t manage the house white though (C-) and.I felt the replacement bottle of Fiano (B) was a bit expensive at around €20. Maybe check the price before ordering bottles. A good place all in all.

Bari – Quartiere Murat – architecture

Posted in Bari, Italy, Murat, Puglia on April 5, 2015 by gannet39

Quartiere Murat is where most of the good mid-range and high end restaurants are located. Please see my next post for food, this is about architecture.

The Murat district is bordered by the sea and the old town Barivecchia to the north, and the train tracks to the south. The other city quarters of Madonella and Liberta are to the east and west.

It’s named after Joachim Murat who was a Marshal of Napoleon Bonaparte and head of the government of the Kingdom of Naples, who ushered in the construction of the new area. The walls surrounding the old town were dismantled on the land side and replaced by Corso Vittorio Emanuele which allowed the city to expand.

At first, much of this part of town seems quite unattractive with relatively modern blocks squeezed together by dirty streets with narrow pavements. However, there are some lovely buildings dotted around if you can find them.

I love the over the top Art Noveau stylings of Palazzo Mincuzzi (corner of Via Sprano da Bari and Via Putignani) which is now a clothes store in the posh shopping district (pedestrian streets Via Sparano and Via Argiro).

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You can also find Teatro Petruzzelli near here at 12 Corso Cavour. It’s the fourth largest theatre in Italy but is sadly closed in 2014 due to the state of the economy.

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I don’t know what this building is called (at 127 Via Putignani, on the corner of Via Cairoli) but I love the detailing and the animal heads above the balconies.

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Each animal is carrying its typical food in its mouth so the walrus has a fish, the fox has a bird, the ram some grass and so on.

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I’m not quite sure what its religious function is but Palazzina San Clemente at 245 Beata Elia di San Clemente has a beautifully carved stone entrance.

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20140628_200311Here’s a bit of dirty and forgotten Art Nouveau at 205 Via Putignani, just a few doors down from Ristorante Terranima.

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So while it might not seem like it at times, there are a few architectural gems dotted around Bari, you just have to look hard for them.

Bari – Barivecchia – eating cheaply in the old town

Posted in Bari, Barivecchia, Italy, Puglia with tags , , , , , , on April 2, 2015 by gannet39

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.

20140627_202612Instead 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-).

20140627_205336I 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.

20140627_213022To finish, a slab of apple pie (B-)…

20140627_212923… 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.

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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+).

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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.

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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 speicalise 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.

Panaficio Antonio 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.