What meals should you try in Bari and the Apulia region? Which groceries should you bring from Apulia? What’s so characteristic about the Apulia’s cuisine? Here’s our list of the best and the most popular meals and products from Apulia.
La Puccia, pizza or perhaps a panino?
An incredibly popular alternative to pizza in Apulia. The crust is very similar to that of a pizza, but thicker and less crunchy. The meal takes the form of a sandwich, with various ingredients inside – it can be vegetarian or contain lots of meat. Usually, there’s an abundance of ingredients inside, all fresh and regional. The dish was originally intended for farmers and other physical workers, to reinvigorate them after a full day of work, and as a result, the sandwich is made incredibly stodgy. It’s certainly worth a try when in Apulia, as you’ll probably not get it anywhere else. La Puccia costs around 4-6 EUR.
Orchiette al Sugo
Probably the most popular pasta in this part of Italy. It’s the small ravioli, which we can find seemingly everywhere – every restaurant, every shop, every marketplace. In the old part of Bari, we can still observe people on the streets making their ravioli everyday. The most popular variant of Orecchiette is the Con le Cime di Rapa (with broccoli rabe), or with tomato sauce and cheese on top (al Sugo). If you ever encounter the Orecchiette al Sugo with burrata – do not hesitate. It’s a really simple, but delicious meal. Orecchiette al Sugo will set you back about 5-6 EUR.
Le Pittule are the small pieces of deep fried dough (although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the taste). They’re often served during parades, festivals or in street booths. We can also encounter them being used as appetizers (or ‘amuse-bouche’) in restaurants. Simple, but delightful!
A very unconventional mix of ingredients: potatoes, rice and clams. The dish comes from Bari and is still greatly popular in the city. Although it seems very random, the three main components accompany each other incredibly well. We use an oven to prepare it, putting the ingredients in layers, on top of each other, so the flavours mix together and we get a very strong taste. It’s a very stodgy meal. You’ll surely find it in many bars serving local food in Bari.
If you ever venture to any restaurant in Apulia, you’re bound to encounter Taralli. They’re the small, crunchy rings, perfect for an appetizer before a dinner or supper, but it also works as a great snack to accompany wine, for instance. Slightly tough, crunchy and simply delicious. Give them a try!
Once again, an incredibly simple meal: breaded pieces of polenta, deep fried. They’re often prepared on the streets, in huge pots, served while still very hot. It’s full of fat though, so limit your doses. Very original and cheap, give it a shot, as it’s also very characteristic of Apulia.
Apulian muffins, filled with cream or chocolate, delightful and stodgy. Accompanies the morning coffee greatly, especially when still warm. A great little snack for when we’re feeling like getting something sweet.
Cheese is an incredibly important and common component of Italian cuisine. Apulia is no different in that regard – here, we’ll also find cheese everywhere. There are some more characteristic cheese types in the southern part of Italy, which are worth trying.
Caciocavallo Silano is a very well known cow milk-based, teardrop-shaped cheese. Its taste can be quite varied, ranging from delicate and sweet to a more spicy, strong taste. Another very characteristic type of cheese is the Canestrato Pugliese. It’s an incredible sheep cheese, produced from December till May. Its name comes from traditional Apulian baskets, which are still utilised to create the cheese. The baskets are made of sugar cane, and are responsible for the pattern on the cheese’s outside. It fits great with the local wine, is delightfully aromatic and often spicy.
Another common cheese in Apulia is the Cacioricotta, produced mostly from sheep/goat milk. The taste can vary from soft and spicy to tougher and stronger in flavour. In the Apulia region, we can often find it added on top of pasta-based meals, like Orecchiette al Sugo.
Apulians also tend to use Burrata. Who has not yet tried this cheese, should certainly make up for it. It’s a delectable, delicate cow cheese, softer than mozzarella both in form and taste. You may encounter it being used in sandwiches, on pizza, to accompany pasta, salads or even as a standalone snack. It’s perfect for both cold and hot meals. It’s firm on the outside and fluffy, damp on the inside. Before using it, take it out of the fridge an hour earlier, to let the taste come back strongly.
Pane di Altamura
Altamura is a small town, well known to all Italians for its incredible bread. It’s made from semolina and it’s heart-shaped. Certainly worth trying, it’s truly one of a kind.
A classic street meal of Apulia. Simple yeast dough in the shape of a triangle/croissant with some delicious filling. Most often, the inside consists of tomato sauce and mozzarella, but we can also encounter Panzerotti with meat or vegetables. It’s cheap, quick and simple, tastes best hot. A great snack to accompany beer, for instance.
Seafood – Crudite
It should come as no surprise, that seafood is very popular in Apulia. We can encounter it in nearly every restaurant or street food booths. Easy access to the sea means that the food can be constantly replaced, keeping everything fresh. Apulia’s most popular variant of seafood is raw seafood. Oftentimes, we can spot the locals on the coastline, trying to fish. It’s also not an unusual sight to see fishes being sold straight from the fishing boats, in towns with such an access. Fish markets are also generally very popular in all of Italy.
Octopus can be eaten in a hundreds different ways on Apulia. Every chef (and so, every housekeeper) has his own method. We can find it in nearly every possible form. You can encounter it in a luxurious restaurant or in a sandwich. If that’s what you’re into, Apulians truly know how to prepare an octopus.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Although vegetables and fruits don’t sound very exciting to us anymore, they’re still worth mentioning in the context of Apulian cuisine. Thanks to the southern sun, good soil and the nearby sea, the local fruits and vegetables taste even more delicious here. Apulians tend to use them a lot, when preparing sandwiches, La Pucci or just pizza.
Because of the high temperatures, light, fresh meals tend to be more popular. Tomato sauces, grilled eggplants and celery are very common here, and rightfully so, as they all have a very fresh and full taste. The Gargano oranges (Arancia del Gargano), Femminello lemons (Limone femminello del Gargano) and clementines from Taranto (Clementine del golfo di Taranto) are all under the DOP sign (Protected Designation of Origin), which furthermore proves their quality.