The best restaurants in Puglia, Italy

Puglia is the land of plenty. The fertile heel of Italy’s boot is packed with silvery trees heavy with chubby green olives and fringed with sun-baked beaches. Puglia is a mosaic of cultural influences pieced together by the handful of dwellers that left their mark through the centuries – you can see it in the architecture, hear it in the region’s dialect and taste it in the food.

The best way to understand Puglia is through food: diving into plates of just-caught seafood from the Adriatic on one side and Mediterranean on the other, biting into jammy fist-sized figs or tearing chunks of bread from rustic loaves to soak up the remnants of a slow-cooked sugo. It’s about tasting the landscape – when the ingredients are this good, you can confidently cut the frills. Bountiful local produce and centuries of culinary secrets passed on from generation to generation mean that tradition will always reign supreme here, but there’s a new generation of chefs carving out their place in Puglia’s culinary landscape. From the humble trattorias helmed by nonnas to the Michelin-starred hotspots offering a contemporary take on the classics, these are the best restaurants in Puglia to book for your next trip.

Sophie Knight

Sophie Knight

Cibus, Ceglie Messapica

Located in the alleys of Ceglie Messapica’s historic centre, Cibus sits in an ancient fifteenth-century convent with stone walls and lime-painted arches. The restaurant was brought to life by a husband and wife duo who consider food not only as a source of pleasure, but as a way to understand the culture and history of a destination. Every dish shows a dedication to exploring different pairing possibilities using the exceptional produce on offer. Cibus has been practising hyper-locality long before the term “zero-mile produce” was coined. Sit under the vines with a bottle of Primitivo and make your way through the antipasti and pasta dishes, but save space for the veal cooked in the stone oven, and finish with a very sticky almond cookie filled with jam, known as biscotto cegliese.

Address: Via Chianche di Scarano, 7, 72013 Ceglie Messapica BR, Italy

Trattoria delle Ruote, Martina Franca

This place has existed in a time warp for decades. The menu is exactly the same as it was fifty years ago, as are the recipes and preparations. At Trattoria delle Ruote, eating is a ritual not to be rushed. Tables are limited and diners are encouraged to take as long as they need. The farmhouse setting makes this place special; tables fit snugly into a small trulli decorated with ancient tools. The food is rustic, much like the surroundings; you’ll eat artisanal salumi and formaggi from local farmers that taste of the Pugliese land, followed by perfectly dense orecchiette and buoyant balls of milky mozzarella. Everything is made in-house, from the pasta to the pickles, even the herbal liquors that linger on the table alongside the modest cheque.

Address: Strada Monticello, 1, 74015 Martina Franca TA, Italy



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