Dining out in Italy is always a pleasure, whether you’re sampling one of the world’s top tasting menus in Modena or eating at a local trattoria in Tuscany. In Puglia, the region’s farming history has informed its culinary traditions, but the area’s reputation as serving only simple, rustic food is quite out of date.
I was thrilled at the range of restaurants I discovered on my most recent trip, from sleek Michelin-starred bistros to homey eateries serving regional specialties like burrata and orecchiette. Puglia is best explored on a road trip, and we’ve highlighted restaurants at essential stops: the scenic seaside towns of Polignano a Mare and Monopoli, the white hilltop city of Ostuni and Puglia’s baroque treasure, Lecce.
La Locanda dei Pescatori
After enjoying Borgo Egnazia’s impressive one-star restaurant, Due Camini, we took the advice of the concierge and drove into the fishing village of Monopoli for our second night’s dinner. Monopoli was equal parts quaint and cosmopolitan, with narrow, winding streets filled with shops and restaurants. The concierge had made us a reservation at La Locanda dei Pescatori, and when we arrived, it was completely empty (never a good sign, especially in touristy places). But within 10 minutes of us sitting down, every one of the outdoor tables was occupied, and boisterous waiters began shuttling dishes and wine bottles out to diners while passersby looked on in envy. To pair with a bottle of local organic white wine, we opted for a fritto misto starter consisting of calamari rings, delectable bite-size whole fish and prawns. Next was a simple plate of linguine alle vongole with small, briny clams and juicy yellow tomatoes for me and a rich langoustine ravioli topped by almond and lemon sauce for my traveling companion. Both pasta dishes were delicious and satisfying. If you have time to make it to Monopoli, this casual eatery is an excellent option for dinner. Closed Monday.