Lecce where to eat: the best Salento restaurants – Italian Cuisine


Giuseppe Zimbalo known as Zingarello and Giuseppe Cino, these are the two key characters to whom we owe the powerful beauty that made the city famous Lecce in the world. These are the two architect-sculptors who designed and built the monumental masterpieces that draw the face of this Baroque capital. A itinerary to many stages, each of which – for some centuries – is worth the trip. But there are new and other reasons to get here, and these are greedy reasons that go beyond the clichés, those that have made and make the joys of tourists in transit, namely pasticciotti, peasant and almond paste lambs (ugly, as stigmatized by a caustic and hilarious and super clicked social page). In the last five years, a handful of millennials has sieved the past rind that dusted the local restaurants, pushing the most local ingredients where no one had ever dared, introducing the first real tests of haute cuisine, polishing the pizza and the tavern, nourishing with quality mouthfuls and sometimes geniuses. Old certainties and fertile matter for a new and happy chapter of travel and gorge literature, like never before. Here is who and where, in no particular order.

400 degrees – Viale Porta d’Europa 65

Just enough for mixing, Bros for the kitchen and Andrea Godi for the pizza. It is the most holy trinity that triggered the gluttonous revolution of the Salento brand. The rest happened for the theory of broken windows, or for virtuous emulation, but the triggering points are these three without fear of denial. 400 degrees is the figure that stands out on the sign in Viale Porta d'Europa, it indicates the ideal temperature for baking pizza measured in Celsius, a lucky number in the personal cabal of the pizza maker-millennial who made his home in a segment of the bare urban periphery and raw. The only seduction of the district is this mecca of pizza lovers who come from every corner of Puglia to burn themselves by sinking the bite into the fried cone – a variation on the famous Ciro by Franco Pepe – hypergolosity filled with Parmesan cream Malandrone 30 months, dense, enveloping, more rocket pesto, ginger and dehydrated Cellina. About thirty pizzas in paper and a few signatures like the Extra Regina Doc, with tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil. Or the Fantastica, also available in a star shape with ricotta-flavored tips and topped with mozzarella fior di latte, cream plus pistachio grains and mortadella curls. Variant on the same refrain theme: a talent born to make pizza, see the dough that plays with that of the big names of Italian pizza.

Bros – via the Acaya 2

"In our restaurant we follow a precise philosophy: we organize work as a rugby team, we design menus as a strategic design studio, we communicate as a fashion company, we work as miners and we have fun as if we lived in Ibiza. This means for us to be Bros ”. Despite the copious literature collected in a handful of years, no one better than the Bros has been able to tell the Bros. Icastics, tattooed up to their necks, celebrated as rock stars, international like no Apulian before them. And young people to be more envious of the rest. A vertiginous success that divides the audience of gastro-onlookers into fans and detractors, indifferent to anyone. Just as no one with a glimpse of honesty can deny that the one set in Via degli Acaya, in the exact center of the city of Lecce, is a different Puglia, perfectly centered within the regional perimeter (indeed, Salento) but just as perfectly net of deja vu. From egg fucking cold (one of the first shocks, not only thermal, always from paper on the first day), a spoon egg-dessert served on the rocks, at Timballo di spaghetti, duck tartare and apple compote on a scented cream to black truffle, passing through rancid investigations, ultra-contemporary explorations of the archaeological heritage of the Mediterranean taste. "We believe it is time to bring the values ​​of Mediterranean culture back to the forefront. We mean to say that we want to shift the balance of the world to the South ". To each his own horizon, who the kitchen line, who the Maginot line, where the eyes of these roaring millennials go, ready to do anything to write the future, not just theirs.

Enough – Via Marco Basseo 29

Diego Melorio and Andrea Carlucci are to mixology as the Bros are to the kitchen, they are writing another story behind the counter, the one that brought Quanto sufficient to the national limelight dragging the fame of a new Lecce. The profile of the two gurus of the Salento blending follows all the clichés, magnificent beards, tattoo, glasses of order. What makes the difference in the quantum standard (the sign in via Marco Basseo is in courier new, the font of the old typewriters) is a hyperspecialization in the beverage, without shortcuts: no food. The little place in the historic center of the Salentine capital is like some small country chapels dedicated to one saint. Bartender of monotheistic religion, therefore, whose devotion is exercised with full observance and results in proportion. The drink list changes monthly, the rest is mercoleogical wisdom and psychology: the must of the house are the tailored cocktails sewn according to the personality, mood and desire of the customer.

3 Frogs – via Camillo Benso count of Cavour 7

Piedmontese son of gold artisans, a past at the master chef Giorgio Locatelli court, tired of tours around the world and an archistufo of being locked in the bridles of haute cuisine, Maurizio Raselli has changed track giving us a cut with the past, at least apparently. The buen retiro of the young cook, author of a haute cuisine set in a pop formula (also in prices), freely drawn from the canvas of experiences made in the North and South, is located in the quadrilateral in the center of Lecce where all the good news is being written. of Salento cuisine. Only 15 seats in a minimal room, sought after to the extent that not a single detail is left to chance, elegant yet domestic, welcoming. Passionate about human nature, even before being a researcher of raw materials, Raselli belongs to the race of chefs who favor the relationship with the producer before reaching the product. As the lord of the meats of Gino Amato da Specchia, from which he procures the fifth quarter with which he makes the Tongue of braised beef and galantine, spitzali roast, green bath, live oranges and capers, or the seared colt, his bottom , the cotognata leccese, baked purple garlic, radicchio and pink salt. In the cellar small labels and great wines, preferably in full nature.

Alex – via Vito Fazzi 15

Alessandra Civilla's kitchen has a gift: everyone likes it. To grandmothers and to mothers (more homologous than men), to whom returns known and beautiful flavors of round Salento. For men and women in jacket ordinances for office days, satisfy the appetites to be disposed of quickly while preserving lightness. And it also satisfies the ego of gourmets, aspirants but also facts and finished, who enjoy a streamlined and measured creativity, performed with a sure hand. At this canteen of around 100 seats with piazza Sant’Oronzo and the practically visible Roman amphitheater, magnificent fried paranza and linguine with seafood or better with hedgehogs, large raw fish and soups with fresh fish are served. In short, the whole theory of sea classicons, with the support of an attentive and quick service. But what makes the difference, what has earned a name for this female cook with fairy eyes and the energy of a panzer, is the agility with which she moves beyond the daily cookbook: dishes like Risotto with clams and smoked black tea on carpaccio of red prawns from Gallipoli, crystallized tomato, seasonal sprouts and drops of soy and red fruits reduction. But also the filleted fish soup, crustaceans and molluscs or duck (pink cooking), fennel and licorice, smoked with olive wood. Dishes that it is impossible to remove from the paper and who have registered Alex in the nomenclature of the gastronomic Renaissance in Lecce.

First restaurant – via 47th Infantry Regiment 7

The sign is a programmatic manifesto: First, with a capital letter, is the guest. It is the assumption from which the idea of ​​Silvia Antonazzo and Marco Borelli, sommelier and maître, couple in life and work, who created this adventure born in 2015 that takes on the connotations of the Lecce and Salento restaurants, started from the idea. For a dining service executed with grace, craft and lightness, but also for the incredibly strong arms of Solaika Marrocco, a talented girl equal to the ambition, great worker and pasionary of the raw materials of the place that handles with safety dodging the clichés. As in the iconic dish of an early success destined to remain on paper: Turcinieddhi glazed with beer with orange onion jam, tempura critics and hop infusion, a game of textures but also a crossing between opposite banks and traditions from Salento to Asia, from the fifth quarter to the wild fennel, from the sweet and sour chutney to the bitterness of the cereal. Cavalieri spaghettone with Leverano yellow datterino tomatoes is more domestic and reassuring. Versatile the button from the changing filling depending on the season: in spring the filling is roasted hen with rosemary and broth. The proven proof that one can emancipate oneself from the most stale rules of tradition, without betraying it, as demonstrated by a miss chef who has the warm blood of a Salento female, the determination and talent of a last-generation cook and the balance of a woman made .

Osteria degli spiriti – via Cesare Battisti 4

Unbelievable but certainly. In the Apulian city that more than any other has resisted the lure of modernity, stubbornly perched in the defense of tradition, nothing more difficult than finding a traditional address in which to abandon oneself trustingly leaving home the gastro-inhibitory restraints. Few guarantees on the yield, honesty, the invoice of the traditional cookbook, the choice of raw materials above all, in the mare magnum of small and very small taverns that crowd the capital of the meridian baroque, winking at the tourists with super pop prices. The Osteria degli Spiriti makes the difference, even in the galactic cellar equipped for the thirst of the most demanding wine-and-food hitchhikers, better if guided by the owner Piero Merazzi. For the rest there is the warm, maternal, comfortable kitchen of lady chef Tiziana Parlangeli, the temperament of a sweet, shy and discreet woman, at ease in front of the fires of the micro-kitchen equipped for big battles. It is here that the chef-worker graciously packages her Crudaiola of dark orecchiette with toasted almonds and cacioricotta, rocket and capers from Salento with blanched tomato cut into strips, but also the invigorating legume soups in winter, or a good plate of timeless Beans and chicory enriched with sweet onion. A single warning: with the entrée, delicious homemade buns are served, it is worthwhile to binge on them, but with the risk of leaving no room for everything else.

Gourmet spirits – via Cesare Battisti 10

Angelo D’Amico, pizzaiolo hand-lesta class 1991, has a past in the acrobatic pizzeria and some free style trophy on the shelves. Sins of youth. But the real challenge, that of developing an author pizza in the very crowded address book of the Lecce pizzerias, has won it in recent times by transforming a sign that languished in a crowded address every day, weekdays and holidays. The secrets are two, one immediately leaps to the eye: the super-stuffed segments one by one, at the center of the plate a compendium of the ingredients in stuffing served in purity in a cup, a god that to look at it is a beauty. The most popular that young people like is the Crocchè, a white, mozzarella base, bacon, stracciatella and crocchè potatoes plus mint at the end of cooking. Tasty and ignorant only in appearance, since the ingredients are of good hand-crafted and the day's handmade frying. The Mortadella is more elegant, a white base with authentic Bolognese mortadella, Bronte pistachio, pistachio cream and cow ricotta, garnishes that make the slimming diet and avarice gouging. The dough is well kept, the pizza maker works with hydrolysis and kneading at a 24 hour mass at a controlled temperature, rising at room temperature for 4-5 hours and selecting flour with wheat germ with a high nutritional content, reaching the maximum natural leavening and maturation of the dough. Sealed with deep throats and peaceful sleep.

300 thousand lounge bar – Via Centoquarantesimo Regiment Infantry 11

Fresh flowers every day, a dizzying wall of bottles labels, a blue-blooded frontman (son of the great La Cotognata family from Lecce) with a stellar mixologist resume, Davide De Matteis. These are the ingredients added to a touch of contemporary art enough to not be indigestible rather than incomprehensible. Procedure: shake vigorously but without tearing the barman's elbow (the real one is at the counter with elegance measured even when facing the Jack Torrance by Shining, or the scary numbers on a Saturday night in Ibiza) and serve with a smile, organic ingredients, natural and proximity. It is the profile of 300 thousand longue bars, the greedy corner that has moved forward the evolutionary axis of bars and cafes, of great tradition in the opulent, literary, aristocratic Lecce. Open not really over four but almost, from seven in the morning to midnight, to a short ball shot from Piazza Mazzini, the epicenter of shopping and the busy city life, which was once called Piazza dei 300mila (god knows why). Rustic and light recipes, pasticciotti and raw fish, anthology cocktails and large bubbles at all hours, as well as a reasoned selection of Apulian wines not even in the restaurant.

Duo – via Garibaldi 11

From TV to radio and vice versa, from Felline to Lecce, from pop to high catering. Many lives in one for Fabiano Viva, the same showman, the same cook, the same frown, all played on the mood of the same, identical ambition. The last one, the haute cuisine one, was a flash of light during a short stage in Piazza Duomo next to Enrico Crippa. Since then many greetings to the traditional cookbook and to the divine suburban place in which Viva milled large numbers, to dedicate himself to the numbered places of the gourmet restaurant at number 11 of Via Garibaldi in Lecce, the capital. A kitchen that dares and divides, may like it very much or not (the taste is the realm of relativity, with the peace of barons and baronesses of written cuisine) but that does not allow doubts on the artisan workmanship of bread, pasta, desserts, from 'amuse bouche on the last plate. Among the warhorses, a Scampi and caviar cream Risotto with sour butter and scampi bisque for finishing. The tribute to the chef from Alba is an entirely vegetable, summer and multicolor dish, a pickled aubergine with purple aubergines and sprouts: mint, oregano, limonin grass, wheat, chicory puntarelle, green and red basil, amaranth, thyme and lemon thyme, turnip red, radish, celeriac, carrot, friggitiello pepper, caper flower, purple cauliflower.

Osteria da Angiulino – via Principi di Savoia 24

An institution that if played in terms of fame with the patron Saint Sant 'Oronzo, the inn right in front of Porta Napoli, both topos of the city of Lecce. Certainly more popular than the Baroque churches, destination for tourists curious about architectural volutes rather than the devout people. Osteria da Angiulino has fed hordes of natives but also of out-of-school students, one and the other welcomed with striking and strafied ways of orecchiette, ciceri and tria (typical dish of Salento made with chickpeas in soup with fresh fried pasta), meatballs and tripe in broth or Roman. At Angiulino the kitchen is perfectly domestic, the prices are moving, the time is frozen: as we are, it corresponds exactly as we were, simple, hungry, pleased to be in company around the checkered tablecloths and the hasty service, including homemade rosoli and toothpicks for post prandial explorations.

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