Closing out the last weeks of summer, we bring you Whitewaller Puglia. Below, you’ll find our list of the best restaurants and bars to experience while you’re in Southern Italy, created in partnership with Eleonora Betesh, founder of VIA Puglia Magazine.
One of the most celebrated kitchens in Puglia; Chef Sabatelli infuses a ‘creative contamination’ style to cooking that is intriguing and sensational, rightfully earning him a Michelin star. Co-led with his wife and business partner Laura, the elegant restaurant is located in a cavern in the historic center of Putignano, The well-balanced, minimalistic setting features dim lighting, sturdy dining chairs, and ample distance between tables, offsetting the chef’s bold culinary compositions. Taste your way through Puglia with tasting menus that show off Sabatelli’s talent and the region’s finest ingredients, some sourced from his own garden.
Whitewaller recommends: the Extra Territorial Emotions menu.
Ristorante Da Tuccino
One of the most famous seafood restaurants in Puglia, Da Tuccino is celebrated for its impeccably fresh and consistently delicious seafood, served on the rugged shores of Adriatic coast. The family-run restaurant has been serving clients for more than 50 years, relying on tradition, hospitality and a relentless passion for fish and seafood recipes. The menu includes an impressive array of antipasti alongside first and second courses with tasting menus that include oysters, carpaccio, pasta-based dishes with frutti di mare, and homemade desserts.
Whitewaller recommends: sharing antipasti and a taste of the smoked salmon.
Sushi aficionados who’ve sampled Japanese cuisine at the best addresses of international capitals are in for a surprise. Puro understands how sushi ought to be, and how else raw food can be experienced; indeed, the chefs’ mastery over compositions and quality is impressive. Relying on the abundance of Puglia’s raw materials, whatever is fresh and available is served. The dishes are so fresh, they melt in your mouth. Start with a selection of fresh tartar and the antipasti specials before relishing the Mabataki, Bitoki and Amaebi rolls. Private dinners available on request. Booking required.
Whitewaller recommends: the Puro Sushi Special and the Wagyu sashimi.
Giardini 36 is an experimental kilometer-zero eatery with a wide array of generous Apulian tapas with a creative interpretation. Groups will appreciate the “Table of Friendship” where couples can always join in for the experience, or for more intimacy, reserve a table in the candlelit room with just three tables. From the open kitchen, homegrown organic products become mouthwatering pies, sauces and stews – the professional team and well-prepared cooks make it seem effortless. A favorite address for vegetarians, too. The wine list is a shortlist of regional winemakers, chosen to complement the gastronomic experience.
Whitewaller recommends: the meat specialties; menu changes based on season and available ingredients.
As a fellow chef friend noted, “If I had to imagine the ideal pizza in my mind, and come up with such a vivid culinary imagination, this place must be it.” Chef Andrea Godi and Francesco Cassiano have a passion for pizza that runs so skin-deep; their pies have been awarded the ‘Best Pizza in Lecce’ and are included in the respected Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. The duo launched a gourmand pizzeria concept that follows Neapolitan traditions, with a custom-designed pizza oven capable of reaching 400° degrees – the ideal heat to create a “real pizza”.
Whitewaller recommends: the pizza with pistachio, mortadella, and stracciatella cheese.
Laurus Cocktail Experience
On a quiet corner in the bustling heart of Lecce, the mixologists at this intimate cocktail lounge concoct impressive cocktails to accompany great conversation into the deep of night. Dim lighting, jazz tunes, soft lighting, and swaying candles provide the right ambiance with seats at the bar and a small lounge area. Led by Marco Fabbiano and head bartender Giorgi Maltese, the cocktail list is inspired by botanical gardens using blossoms and spices from Asia to beans and sugar cane from South America; even the most seasoned traveler is in for a cocktail surprise.
Whitewaller recommends: asking the mixologist to create something especially for you.
The Cardinal Aperitif & Bar
Located in the historic town of Nardo this stylish cocktail bar is a recommended stop for drinks and mingling with locals, and shows off the contemporary bohemian side of Salento. Industrial lighting and rustic furniture contrast with frescoed ceilings and arches, a highly aesthetic balance between past and present. The cocktail menu highlights the team’s creativity and expertise in mixology, as well as a meticulous selection of celebrated vineyards from the region. Tasty gourmet tapas inspired by local traditions and Mediterranean flavors are delicious accompaniments, all in an informal atmosphere and ambient music.
Whitewaller recommends: the zesty tartar and a glass of Apulian rose.
Situated on the first floor of an elegant and beautifully restored historic palazzo, Dimora Ulmo affords picturesque views of the sassi and ancient city – just the scene for a seasoned traveler looking for an intercultural experience. The gourmet kitchen features several dining spaces with grand windows, enviable artworks, natural lighting and frescoed ceilings, while the round tables and modern seats keep the ambiance light and easy-going. Chef Michele Castelli, alongside his sous chef and Bottura-trained Virginia Caravita, capture Materan recipes with utter refinement and a fearlessness in experimenting with contrasting textures, flavors, and colors.
Whitewaller recommends: the Roots menu to experience the traditions of Matera.
Alchemico Bar & Cose
Apulians know a good thing when they taste it; right from its opening Alchemico Bar e Cose became a promising latest-addition to Monopoli’s nightlife scene. It has that big-town vintage flair and lively atmosphere that attracts those on rendez-vous, groups of friends and visitors looking to couple post-dinner aperitif and people watching. Yet drinks remain the main event, from world whiskies, rums to classic spirits, wines and beers. Interesting stories unfold here, particularly around the bar with a three-storey treasure trove of fine drinks.
Whitewaller recommends: a taste of the whisky list après-diner, and the Moscow Mule, too.
The location, the style, the vibe and the cocktails, of course, have made this wonder bar the cherry on the icing at the quaint chic town of Tricase. What was once an abandoned historic pharmacy became a social hotspot thanks to three friends who decided to convert the place into a hub for ‘liquid therapy’, using the finest organic products from their network of local farmers and markets. Forget about artificial syrups with fancy labels; this team turned to Mother Nature to source the most exquisite cocktail. Too good to be tried only once.
Whitewaller recommends: the Cadreghito, a spin-off of the caipirinha.