In the sunny peninsula of Salento for two weeks of sunshine and good food, we followed a strict schedule of cold swimming and happy eating. Salento is literally the heel of Italy So everyday, we looked for a beautiful natural cove to swim in the morning, and then we indulged in a very long liquid lunch in the best restaurant we could find somewhere by the sea.
So this post is about where to eat good seafood in Puglia, and one of the places I can recommend is a small restaurant called Taverna del Porto in a small village by the sea on the peninsula of Salento in Puglia.
On one of our many drives along the coast of Salento, I noticed a stylish restaurant by a tiny marina in a tiny village. I had to sit up and take notice of this blue-and-white restaurant because it had a sophisticated atmosphere even at first glance from the outside. This stylishness seemed rather out of place in this quiet town in the middle of nowhere.
INSPIRATION FOR GOOD FOOD IN THE SALENTO PENINSULA OF PUGLIA
“We must eat here,” I said to my companions. The restaurant is called the Taverna del Porto. I had never heard of it, as it really is a small restaurant off the tourist track in Salento. But somehow I felt it would have good food.
So one day, we drove over to this village, which is about 40 kilometers away on a coastal road, just to have lunch at Taverna del Porto.
LOTS OF LUCK AND NO RESERVATIONS
We were lucky we went early because we had no reservations. Every table was booked except for one, and we were able to get this because we were the first customers in.
At first glance, the Taverna del Porto in Salento did not disappoint at all. It had the most amazing array of fresh seafood I’d seen so far in the heel of Italy. Everything imaginable from the sea was arranged so beautifully on a long counter, and everything was fresh from the water.
DELICIOUS SEAFOOD IN PUGLIA
I ordered the local oysters of Salento, which were ever so tasty. Then I had a mixed plate of raw seafood. Basically, it was sashimi, but Italian style. So we had salt and olive oil instead of soy sauce and wasabi. This was very good and it was interesting how the seafood in Italy tasted so different from seafood in Japan.
INTERESTING PASTA COMBINATIONS IN ITALY
For a main course, I ordered a pasta with local fish. I can’t have the typical Italian meal of three courses and dessert. So I usually have an appetizer and a pasta, followed by dessert. I order pasta every chance I get in Italy because the chefs in Italy create interesting and delicious pasta that you cannot find anywhere else.
The pasta was delicious. At Taverna del Porto, there is no set menu for pasta dishes. Every day, the chef creates a set of pasta dishes based on the catch of the day and the ingredients available.
For dessert, I ordered a homemade tart with chocolate sauce. The tiramisu at the end was also excellent. The tiramisu is made by the mother of the owner of the restaurant, according to a special family recipe. Compared to tiramisu in other places, it’s full of fresh cream.
PRICE OF A GOOD MEAL IN PUGLIA
As for the price of the meal at Taverna del Porto, all I can say is that it isn’t cheap. We paid about the same price as a good meal in Tokyo. It’s obviously an upmarket restaurant in spite of its casual atmosphere.
And in spite of my initial impressions of this being just some small restaurant in the middle of nowhere. The clientele who arrived later, most of them obviously regulars, were certainly not your average Italian villagers. In fact, many of them looked like they walked out of a page of Travelife Magazine.