Archive for the Barivecchia Category

Bari – Barivecchia – eating cheaply and well in the old town

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

The people here are nationally famous for having their own dialect, related to Greek, that even the rest of the city finds hard to understand.

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.

At the heart of the maze is the Duomo di Bari, or Cattedrale di San Sabino, built in the late 12th century.

Please click on any of these photos to get a full screen slideshow.

Thanks to the redevelopment, Barivecchia is now full of small eateries offering traditional Barese cuisine at very low prices. I’ve collected the ones to avoid in the Piazza Ferrarese post. The following are all places I’d recommend for a cheap meal. For posher places see the posts on the new town.

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)

Another place bearing the title ‘Vini e Cucina’ (the name of a cheap type of restaurant) above its door, it’s similar in many ways to the famous Paglionico in the Piazza Ferrarese post, but so much better in my opinion. Again 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 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 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. Go here and not the other place.

Cianna Cianne (Intermediate B), 5 Via Corsoli, Tel. 080 528 9382, 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 Pugiiese.  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.

20140616_205910I 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) (A)…

20140616_205128… 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.

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, Tel. 080 523 7039

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.

I went to the next place hoping Panaficio Antonio Fiore at #38 would be open for some of their famous focaccia, but it seems to just be a day time thing.

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.

Bari – Barivecchia – Piazza Ferrarese

Posted in Bari, Barivecchia, Italy, Piazza Ferrarese, Piazza Mercantile, Puglia with tags , , on April 1, 2015 by gannet39

Piazzas Ferrarese and Mercantile, the two main squares in the heart of the old town, blend into each other imperceptibly and are effectively two sides of the same square. This is where the Barese, especially the youth, come to meet and chat on a warm evening. 20140614_145648

In Piazza Mercantile you can see the Palazzo della Provincia and its clock tower, once the home of the provincial administration, built in 1936. Please click on the pics for the best view.

20140614_145216In Piazza Mercantile you can see La Colonna della Giustizia, ‘the column of justice’, a stone punishment pole to which fraudulent debtors were tied and lashed, which is nice.

Around the square you’ll see women selling the traditional local street food, sgagliozze, fried polenta cubes. 20140614_145235

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.

You’ll find all the places mentioned in my Bari posts, and some more I haven’t been to, on my Google map.

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. 20140630_213016We 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. 20140630_211443

Next the classic Barese dish Patate e Cozze but not particularly well made here (C+). 20140630_212632

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.  Go to somewhere in my next two posts instead.

20140630_222121

Even if you can’t buy, you should check out the fantastic displays of hams and cheeses at Salumiere Nino at 31 Strada Vallisa, just a few doors up from Paglionico above.

La Locanda de Federico (B?), 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.

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. 20140629_212640

The Antipasti ‘La Cecchina’ looked nice but was rather flavourless (B-). 20140629_220058

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.

20140629_223012Finally some sfoglia con crema pasticcera (pastries with vanilla custard) (B) and an unfiltered limoncello (B+).

It was reasonably priced though, 3 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 other places to go.

I grouped all the average places here together. Please see my other Bari posts on Barriavecchia and Murat for the good stuff.

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