The Best Foods Of Puglia, Italy

Apulia, Italy or Puglia, Italy? Hmm, which one is correct? After living in Italy for a year, I had to visit the region for its amazing beaches, gorgeous towns, and, of course, the phenomenal food!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

 

I also had to figure out if the name is Apulia or Puglia. So, to clear this up for everyone, Apulia is the ancient name of the region, coming from Greek meaning “those who live on the other side of the Adriatic Sea.” Puglia is the modern-Italian name of the region and is used today. Both are interchangeable, so feel free to say either!
What to eat in Puglia Italy

 

Puglia is the southern region of Italy, otherwise known as the heel of the boot. For one year, we lived about three hours from this region, so we had a few chances to visit, see the gorgeous beaches, and eat the food. Many people think Puglia has the best food in Italy; even Conde Nest has Puglia’s food scene on their radar. Here is our list of must-try local foods while in Puglia, Italy.

 

What to Eat In Puglia Italy
Frisella is one of Puglia’s most famous foods. It is this amazing, crunchy, very dry bread normally baked in a stone oven and sometimes has a hole in the middle. These little crunchy breads have been around forever and are best when served with tomatoes and basil with some olive oil. I love it served like bruschetta, but the locals eat it dipped in salty water to give it some more flavor and soften it up.

 

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

 

Taralli are these little crunchy bites and are Southern Italy’s answer to crackers. They are small and circular and eaten as a snack. You can eat them sweet glazed in sugar or savory with garlic, black pepper, or chili (my favorite.) They are super versatile and easy to eat on the go while wandering about! I fell in love with them when we were there; the spicy chili kind, of course.

 

What to eat in Puglia Italy

Focaccia ripiena, or an Italian sandwich made of fresh ingredients on focaccia bread, rocks! I love these things! Of course, when they are stuffed with mozzarella, parma, and veggies, well, I just have to yell “Fantastico!”

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Puddica is a bread dough that is also mixed with mashed potatoes and rolled into flat bread. They are baked similarly to pizza and then covered with tomatoes and seasonings! YUM! I mean, bread and potatoes all rolled into one?! Che fico!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Pizzettes are basically miniature pizzas topped with fresh cherry tomatoes and cheese. You can find it with a variety of toppings, just like full-size pizza. Sometimes, instead of tradition pizza dough, they are made with flat bread. These are considered street food and easy to eat on the go. My kids love these and eat them like popcorn! Watch out – they can be addicting.

What to eat in Puglia Italy

CC BY-SA 2.5 it, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1903618

il rustico is very special to the Puglia area and hard to find anywhere else. The rustico is part pastry, part pizza. It is sealed and cooked, similar to a calzone, but instead of being made with pizza dough, it is made with puff pastry. Depending on what town you are in, they come stuffed with different things. In Lecce, they are stuffed with bechamel sauce, mozzarella, and fresh tomatoes then baked in the oven. Oh, Mamma Mia! Can’t you just taste the melted mozzarella!?

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Burrata is a local fresh cheese specialty in Southern Italy. It is unique because it has the outer skin much like fresh buffalo mozzarella but the inside is filled with cream. Yes, cream! This is a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream. It is usually served fresh and at room temperature. The word burrata means “buttered” in Italian. Let me tell you, I can eat a plate of this, easy, just like butter! Incredible!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Orecchiette is a type of pasta, and the word orecchiette actually means “little ears” in Italian. This ear-shaped pasta is handmade and normally is served with cime di rapa (broccoli leaves) and garlic. It can be served with ricotta cheese and a handful of ripe tomatoes. You also might find it served with mini meatballs. The locals say the shape of the pasta, with the little dips inside, is the best for soaking up the sauce! Anything you can find with this pasta in the area will be amazing!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Sagne ‘ncannulate is a local type of pasta that is handmade. It is thick cut, long, and spiraled, and some say it is much like the twisted streets of the baroque towns of Puglia. This is traditionally served with a homemade tomato-cheese sauce. AHHH, YES! CHEESE SAUCE! This is one of my family’s favorite dishes.

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Ostriche arrosto – Lecce is very close to two different seas, the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, although the locals call the area to the west “the Ionain Sea.” In the area, you find a ton of fresh fish and seafood. Oysters are a specialty and were probably caught that morning! This dish is grilled oysters with parsley, garlic, oregano, breadcrumbs, olive oil, and lemon juice. Magnifico!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Riso, patate e cozze – This dish is a specialty from the area of Bari. It is similar to paella but with only mussels (and not all the other seafood.) The most unique thing about this dish is that it is made with rice and potatoes along with the mussels. If you find some of this on a menu, try it out; you wont find it anywhere else in Italy.

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Tiella di verdure is a baked casserole of fresh, local vegetables, similar to ratatouille. It is topped with a load of mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and fresh basil. It has so much flavor, and the cheese just tops it all off and melts in your mouth. Seriously, it is spettacolare!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Pancotto is an ancient dish from the area of Capitanata in Puglia. It is made from a vegetable-broth base and stale or day-old bread. It also has a ton of fresh, local veggies, fennel seeds, local virgin olive oil, and finished off with chili peppers. This is really hearty and satisfying with a great flavor and a little kick of spice!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Zuppa di cozze alla tarantina are steamed mussels with garlic, onions, tomatoes, and hot peppers all cooked together with some white wine! The mussels are always fresh from the sea, and, of course, local vegetables! If you love seafood, this one is for you. Have a glass of local white wine to go with it. Che grande!

What to eat in Puglia Italy

Sott’olio describes a way that the Pugliese people preserve their produce. Local grown vegetables, like eggplants and artichokes, are jarred with onions and peppers. The jars are filled with virgin olive oil and vinegar and then left to sit for many months. Once they are ready to eat, they add a great addition to any antipasto plate! These are delicious, and you will find these preserved vegetables that on many antipasto plates.

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Pasticciotto! Now you know I had to give you something sweet to eat, right?! This is the local specialty pastry made in Lecce. It is a flaky pastry crust with creamy custard filing. We tried them fresh in the morning from the baker and OH are they good! Sometimes they are made with fruits,  like cherries, and are even sweeter! A typical breakfast in Puglia is a great pasticciotto, and, of course, an even better Italian cappuccino. We Americans would call it the bomba!

What to Eat in Puglia Italy

Have an aperitivo, of an Aperol spritzer, and some antipasto! One of my favorite drinks is this spritzer. This little baby is Italian prosecco with a splash of Compari or Aperol and a big fat orange to soak up all that alcohol goodness. It is tart and sparkling sweet all in one and a great drink to have before dinner with some snacks. The Italians always drink it with a big straw. What is not to like about that?!

What to eat in Puglia Italy

What else can I help you with in Puglia?

Do you need information on what to see and where to stay? Check out our article on a weekend in Lecce, Italy.

Or, if staying somewhere else in Puglia, check out Booking.com and Trip Advisor. You can find the best deals, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.

What to eat in Puglia Italy

Looking for some awesome food tours in the area?

Check out Viator.com for the best the locals have to offer. My personal recommendation is a traditional home cooking experience in Lecce. Another great tour is the Gastro food tour from Bari. Lastly, I would recommend the full-day wine tour to two wineries in Salento, seeing the countryside, and tasting the local wines – my ideal day, of course!

Need flights to the area? 

You can fly into either Bari or Brindisi – both have routes from around Europe and from Rome. Check out JetRadar, to get the best prices and flight options.

Car rental?

Our car rental company that we love is FOX Car Rental, we use them in Europe and the USA. We have found they often have the cheapest prices, and great cars!

Discount Car Rentals Around the World

 

Reading menus, and speaking the language can always be a little bit daunting. Grab a quick Italian Lesson or two before you go! Pimsleur Language Programs
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Pimsleur Italian

 

I hope you love the food in Puglia as much as we did! Did I forget anything? Do you have a favorite food from the area that I didn’t list? Please drop a comment below and let us know!

 

– Stacey

 

Please be advised – Baskets Life Travel is an affiliate partner of travel and goods sites to bring you the best prices on cool products, locations, hotels, car rentals, and flight options. If you click on a link, we could receive payment, goods, or compensation. We only promote travel and products that we have personally used and know you will love, too. All opinions are our own. 

11 Comments

  • Reply March 26, 2017

    Aisha

    All the yum! Everything looks ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Adding Puglia to my list of must-visit places when I do my Euro trip next year 🙂

  • Reply March 26, 2017

    Agnes

    I love Italian food! I feel like if I’d live in Italy, I would gain so much weight because I would not be able to contain myself. Nice pictures too!

  • Reply March 23, 2017

    Lindsay

    OMG – it’s almost lunch time for me and now I’m so so hungry! I can’t really decide which dish I’d want to try first, though the focaccia ripiena immediately jumped out at me. I’m trying to move to the Balkans this autumn, and plan to be a short plane ride away from Greece and Italy. Puglia has definitely made it to my list of must-see foodie places and I’ll be sure to keep this post handy! PS – gorgeous photos!

  • Reply March 23, 2017

    Sandy N Vyjay

    The dishes are just so unique. Italy isn’t just about pastas after all! I am amazed to see such a variety of vegan items that look extremely delicious. I am in love with Puglia!

  • Reply March 22, 2017

    Bhushavali

    I think I should find a job in Puglia and just live there!! The food is just too incredible and I’d want to eat these everyday!!! Lolz… But then, bubye dieting!!! I’m just happy to see many varieties are vegetarian as well, which is not really common!

  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Rosie Benton

    Oh man I shouldn’t have read this before dinner! It all looks absolutely delicious and I hadn’t heard of hardly any of those dishes but now I want to try them all!! Great photos too.

  • Reply March 21, 2017

    Vishu Saumya

    Now this sounds like a complete guide to what to eat in Puglia. The food looks so yum that I have started feeling hungry.

  • Reply March 20, 2017

    Kallsy

    I can feel my stomach rumbling at the sight of all of these delicious Italian foods! While most people would think of bruschetta, pasta, pizza, etc. I would be curious to taste pasticciotto. It looks incredibly delicious and not to mention, I love sweets! I’m gonna need to find a recipe for this or take myself to Italy. 🙂

  • Reply March 20, 2017

    sabs

    I am so hungry right now! Everything looks good, but I would love to try the il rustico and frisella.

  • Reply March 20, 2017

    John

    My mouth is watering right now! All of this looks so good. I don’t know which one I would like to try first, but I’m leaning toward the il rustico, it sounds unreal.

  • […]  Want to know What to Eat while in Lecce? Check our guide to food in Puglia.  […]

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