Want to find out about traditional food from Puglia? You’ve come to the right place! As someone who has travelled around Puglia extensively as a solo traveller, I’ve had the opportunity to indulge in a wide variety of food from Puglia. There are many traditional dishes that are deeply rooted in the region’s history and culture.

FOOD FROM PUGLIA, ITALY

Puglia, located in southern Italy, is renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and, of course, its mouth-watering cuisine. In this article, I will take you on a gastronomic tour of food from Puglia, and introduce you to 78 of the most delicious and authentic Pugliese dishes.

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Introduction to food from Puglia.

Traditional food from Puglia is based on fresh, locally grown ingredients such as olives, tomatoes, artichokes, turnips, and seafood. Different towns in Puglia have different local specialities.

The region is known for its breads, pastas and high quality olive oil. Olives are harvested in the fall/autumn and pressed into extra virgin olive oil that has a deep fruity flavour. The oil is often used to finish dishes or marinades, giving them a unique flavour. Puglia has over 50 million olive trees!

Puglia is home to many excellent artisanal cheeses made from sheep or cow’s milk, as well as local meats like sausages and cured hams.

15 Best Alberobello Restaurants, Cafes, Pizzerias, Bakeries, Dairies and Wine Bars.

Food from Puglia – the guide.

Below is a guide to some of the best foods and dishes you should try when visiting Puglia.

For a truly authentic Pugliese meal, enjoy a pairing with one of the local wines such as Negroamaro or Primitivo.

I have split this guide into 13 sections of food from Puglia. You can use the table of contents above, or navigate using the following quick links. There is also a section on wine in Puglia at the end. The wines are not included in the 78 foods count.

Pasta from Puglia | Breads from Puglia | Cheese from Puglia | Cured meats from Puglia | Street food from Puglia | Sandwiches from Puglia | Meat dishes from Puglia | Fish and shellfish dishes from Puglia | Fruits from Puglia | Desserts from Puglia | Pastries and Biscuits from Puglia | Wine from Puglia.

1. Pasta from Puglia.

Food from Puglia (or Apulia) is well-known for its exceptional pasta variations. Easily the most famous is the orecchiette pasta, which is shaped like ‘little ears’.

Here are some of Puglia’s popular pasta dishes for you to try:

Orecchiette

Orecchiette is a type of pasta that originated in Puglia and is now enjoyed by people all over the world. It resembles small ears, hence its name ‘orecchiette’ which means ‘little ears’ in Italian.

Orecchiette pasta is traditionally made in the streets of Bari by a group of women known as “le signore delle orecchiette” (the ladies of orecchiette).

These skilled pasta makers can be found in the neighbourhoods of Borgo Antico or Piazza Mercantile in the old town of Bari. You can see them sitting outside their homes, working their magic with their hands and a wooden board.

Orecchiette dishes are a staple on Pugliese restaurant menus. It is often served with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes. It can also be served with vegetables like broccoli, turnips or cauliflower (see vegetable dishes below).

Related reading: 24 Excellent Things to Do in Bari.

Pasta alla Barese

Pasta alla Barese is one of the region’s most popular dishes. It comes from Bari, the capital city of Puglia. This dish usually consists of orecchiette pasta, rapini, garlic, olive oil, chilli peppers, and anchovies. Ingredients may vary.

Strascinati

Strascinati are types of handmade pasta that originate in Puglia. They are typically made with flour and water, then rolled out thinly into sheets before being cut into strips. The strips are then boiled in salted water until they become tender and delicious.

These plates of pasta are usually served with a traditional tomato sauce or seafood sauce.

a white plate topped with pasta covered in sauce.
Food from Puglia: Strascinati

Sagne ‘ncannulate

Sagne ‘ncannulate is a type of fresh pasta crafted mainly in Lecce, in Salento. It’s shaped like twisted ribbons, inspired by the city’s Baroque architecture.

a white plate topped with pasta and tomatoes.
Food from Puglia: Sagne pasta

The dough is made by kneading flour and water until it’s smooth and firm, then rolled and cut into strips. These strips are wrapped around a stick, removed, and left to dry. Traditionally, the pasta is served with sugo schiattariciati, a simple sauce made with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic, and cacioricotta cheese.

Cavatelli

Cavatelli is a type of Italian pasta made from semolina flour and warm saltwater. Although its origins are not entirely clear, it is believed to have originated in the southern regions of Puglia, Calabria, and Basilicata.

Initially, it was served with simple sauces made with oil and garlic, but now it is commonly enjoyed with a diverse range of sauces. These include those made with olives, arugula, and heavy cream (double cream to us Brits).

Spaghetti all’assassina

Spaghetti all’assassina is a unique pasta dish from Bari, renowned for its unconventional cooking method. The dish is prepared using the risottatura technique, which involves cooking the spaghetti in a spicy tomato broth until it is caramelised, burnt and crisp.

a white plate topped with spaghetti and a fork.
Food from Puglia: Spaghetti all’Assassina

To perfect this dish, the tomato broth is added gradually to the spaghetti so that it can be fully absorbed, then sizzled and caramelised before each new pour.

Although there is some disagreement over its origin, it is widely believed that chef Enzo Francavilla first introduced the dish at his Barese restaurant Al Sorso Preferito in 1967, where it remains a popular item on the menu to this day.

Grano Arso Flour: Food from Puglia

I have put this flour in the pasta section, due to its use within Pugliese pasta varieties.

Grano arso, meaning ‘burnt grain’, is a highly prized variety of Italian flour produced in Puglia. It is a classic example of la cucina povera, or ‘peasant cuisine’. This unique flour is valued for its toasty, smoky, nutty, and earthy flavours. It also has subtle notes of coffee that enhance the taste of breads and pastas.

Its origins can be traced back to the 18th century when impoverished villagers would gather the charred grains left behind after farmers burned their fields to clear the land for new crops. Other accounts suggest that peasants would sweep up the burnt flour from the floor of communal ovens after baking bread.

The scorched grains were then ground into flour and mixed with water to make pasta or bread with a distinctive smoky taste. Orecchiette is the most popular pasta made with grano arso.

2. Bread from Puglia.

I can’t talk about food from Puglia without talking about bread. Bread is an integral part of Pugliese cuisine, with a wide variety of bread types available. The most famous of these is the Altamura bread, which has been granted DOP-protected status. Another famous recipe is focaccia bread, which is celebrated for its delicious Barese variety in Puglia.

Focaccia bread

Focaccia is a flatbread that is widely enjoyed in Italy, and the Puglia region is particularly renowned for its delicious take on this classic dish. The Pugliese focaccia is typically made with simple ingredients, such as flour, yeast, water, olive oil, and salt. However, what sets it apart is the way it is prepared and seasoned.

The dough is left to rise for several hours, allowing it to develop a soft, fluffy texture. Once risen, it is pressed into a large, flat shape and dimpled with the fingertips. The dough is then drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt and fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano.

a person cutting a pizza with a large knife.
Food from Puglia: Focacceria La Lira

Focaccia Barese

Focaccia Barese is a traditional version of the famous Pugliese focaccia, originating from the city of Bari. This type of focaccia is distinguished by its fluffy texture and the use of potatoes in the dough, which gives it a unique flavour and aroma. The potatoes are boiled, mashed, and mixed with flour, yeast, water, and olive oil. This creates a soft, sticky dough that is left to rise for several hours.

Once risen, the dough is pressed into a rectangular shape and dimpled with the fingertips. It is brushed with olive oil and topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, oregano, and coarse sea salt. The focaccia is baked in a hot oven until golden brown and crispy on the outside, yet soft and tender on the inside.

Focaccia Barese is a staple in Bari’s food culture and is enjoyed both as a snack and a meal. I have to say focaccia Barese was hands down the best flatbread I have ever eaten.

Focaccia Barese can be eaten on its own, but it can often be used to make a delicious sandwich, usually filled with Pugliese cheese and hams (see entry for Stracciatella cheese below).

Further reading: My street food tour of Bari (with photos).

Pane di Altamura

Pane di Altamura is a naturally leavened bread made from re-milled durum wheat semolina. It comes from the Altamura area of the Provincia di Bari.

Altamura bread was granted protected designation of origin (PDO) status in 2003, which means that it can only be produced under specific conditions. These include using specific varieties of durum wheat grown locally, using a particular type of water, following a consistent production method, and ensuring the final crust is at least 3mm thick.

Food from Puglia: a loaf of bread sitting on top of a wooden plate.
Pane di altamura

Originally the primary food source of the Murge population, Altamura bread was kneaded in households and marked with the family name before being baked in communal ovens. Due to its intended purpose of feeding families for up to two weeks, the bread had to be highly resilient, which remains one of its most valued characteristics to this day.

Fun fact: Pane di Altamura is one of only six breads out of over 1,000 varieties that have been granted the esteemed DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status!

Taralli rings

Taralli are Italian dough rings that are typically made with olive oil, flour, and spices like fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. The word tarallo is derived from the Greek word daratos, meaning a type of bread. Although taralli are now a favourite snack in southern Italy, they were initially made for the poor by bakers who repurposed leftover dough scraps from wealthy families’ bread.

To make taralli, bakers would mix the dough scraps with olive oil, white wine, and then bake them. With time, taralli were improved by boiling them to make them crispier and shinier before baking.

Today, taralli come in both savoury and sweet versions, and are typically enjoyed throughout Puglia by dipping them in wine before eating. They come in many different shapes and flavours and are a great snack to have with a glass of wine. Warning – they are addictive!

Further reading: Guide to wine in Puglia + best wineries in Puglia.

Scaldatelli

Scaldatelli, also known as scaldatelle or scallatìll’, are a traditional agricultural delicacy originating from the Apulian province of Foggia. These snacks are similar to taralli but larger in size, made from flour, extra virgin olive oil, wine, salt, and fennel seeds.

In some cases, scaldatelli are also seasoned with chilli, black pepper, or black olives. After being formed into shape, they are briefly boiled in water before being baked in the oven until the crust turns crispy and golden. They are best enjoyed on their own as a light snack or appetiser, but they can also be paired with cheese and cold cuts.

Acquasala

Acquasala, a dish originating from Puglia, is a classic Italian bread salad made with ripe tomatoes and stale bread or dried biscuits. The bread is soaked in a mixture of olive oil, tomato juices, and vinegar, and then seasoned with salt and garnished with oregano or basil.

food from Puglia: a close up of a bowl of food with bread, tomato and onions.
Acquasala

Acquasala is a prime example of cucina povera, or “poor cuisine.” It is said to have originated during the Crusades, with locals offering it to departing warriors as they left Puglia by sea. This salad is closely related to panzanella, the Tuscan bread salad (also popular in Sicily).

3. Cheese from Puglia.

When talking about food from Puglia, cheese is my favourite topic!

Eating cheese in Puglia is truly a wonderful experience. There are so many local specialties that you can’t get anywhere else. Aside from the obviously glorious Burrata di Andria – a creamy and soft cheese made with mozzarella and cream – there are many other noteworthy cheeses from Puglia, which I will list below.

Burrata

No list of food from Puglia would be complete without Burrata.

Burrata is a delicious hand-made artisan cheese from the provinces of Bari and Barletta-Andria-Trani. The cheese is made with cow’s milk, rennet, and cream.

It was invented by a cheesemaker called Lorenzo Bianchino Chieppa who had the brilliant idea to fill a shell of stretched mozzarella with a mix of cream and smaller pieces of mozzarella. The result is an obscenely creamy interior, and a rich flavour of fresh milk.

This burrata in the photos above was infused with truffle, which was sublime, and now every time I smell truffle I am instantly transported to a Pugliese cheese/truffle heaven.

To enjoy Burrata at its best, eat it within 24 hours of being made. You can eat it alone with some salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil, or pair it with fresh tomatoes and prosciutto crudo. It’s also a great topping for pizzas or bruschettas.

a person cutting a poached egg on a plate.
Photo: Pane & Mozza, Alberobello

Stracciatella

There are actually three different foodstuffs from Italy with the same name. Stracciatella can be an ice cream, a soup or a cheese. In this section, we are talking about the cheese!

Stracciatella is a traditional cheese that’s actually the creamy interior of Burrata. It’s made by mixing shredded threads of mozzarella di bufala (known as sfilacci) with fresh cream, giving it a silky, buttery, and almost runny texture with fresh, milky, and slightly acidic flavours.

a person holding a piece of food in their hand with Puglia in the background
Cosi Comera Focaccia Barese with ham and stracciatella

Thanks to its mild taste, Stracciatella can be enjoyed with a variety of dishes, from pastas and risottos to pizzas and bruschettas.

Caciocavallo

Caciocavallo is a traditional Italian cheese that is produced in Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, and Puglia. It’s made from cow’s milk (sometimes mixed with sheep’s milk) and has a unique shape resembling two small cheese balls joined by a rope.

The cheese is heated, curdled, formed into large oval shapes, and aged for at least three months. It has a slightly salty and nutty taste, with a firm and slightly elastic texture.

Caciocavallo is versatile and can be enjoyed on its own, sliced as a snack, or used in various dishes like sandwiches, pizzas, and pasta. It’s also popular in southern Italy grilled or fried as a main course, and in traditional recipes such as lasagne and eggplant parmesan.

Ricotta

Ricotta, a soft and fresh cheese, is traditionally made from the whey produced during the production of other cheeses, using milk from sheep, cows, goats, or Italian water buffalo.

Fun fact: Ricotta is not technically a ‘cheese’ as such. It is considered a creamy curd that is achieved by reheating the whey, hence the name ‘ricotta’ which translates to ‘re-cooked’.

Fresh ricotta on plate on wooden background in Puglia
Ricotta cheese.

The curds are typically white, creamy, fresh, and slightly sweet in flavour. While its shape and weight may vary depending on the type of milk used, it is usually formed into a conical shape using a traditional container called a fuscella, which allows the cheese to drain.

Further reading: Ultimate Puglia Travel Guide.

Scamorza

Scamorza is a tasty Italian cheese made from cow’s milk. The cheese is shaped into two connected balls, one smaller than the other, and then strung up to ripen for 2 weeks, giving it its name, which means ‘beheaded’.

Scamorza has a semi-soft, firm, and chewy texture, with milky and smoky flavours. For a smokier taste, try scamorza affumicata.

Scamorza cheese sitting on a wooden board.
Scamorza cheese

Compared to mozzarella, Scamorza has a creamier and sweeter flavour, and it’s also drier. It’s perfect for baking, as it melts well, or it can be used as a topping for pizza or lasagne. It also pairs perfectly with a glass of Pugliese wine (I speak from experience!)

Mozzarella

Mozzarella is produced all over Italy, but Puglia has its own version.

The celebrated Mozzarella di Gioia del Colle is produced in the town of Gioia del Colle in the Bari province. The cheese has a slightly firmer texture and a tangier, more complex flavour profile than other types of mozzarella. This is due in part to the fact that the cows are primarily fed on grass, which gives the cheese its unique taste.

sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella on a plate.
Food from Puglia: Mozzarella

To make mozzarella di Gioia del Colle, the cow’s milk is first heated and curdled, then the curds are stretched and formed into the distinctive round shape of the cheese. The cheese is then bathed in brine and left to mature for at least 4 hours before being packaged and sold.

Mozzarella di Gioia del Colle is a versatile cheese that can be enjoyed on its own, sliced and served with tomatoes and basil as a classic Caprese salad, or used as a topping for pizzas and other dishes.

Treccia: Food from Puglia

Treccia cheese is made from cow’s milk that is commonly found in the central and southern regions of Italy. The cheese is named after its distinctive braided shape, which is achieved by intertwining three or more strands of fresh cheese curd. The braiding process gives the cheese a unique texture that is both firm and slightly elastic, with a mild and delicate flavour that is reminiscent of fresh milk.

a close up of a group of mozzarella on a table.
Treccia braid.

Treccia cheese is often enjoyed as a table cheese, sliced and served with fresh bread or crackers. It is also a popular ingredient in many Italian recipes, including pizzas, pastas, and salads. The cheese’s unique braided shape makes it a visually appealing addition to any dish, and its mild flavour allows it to pair well with a wide range of ingredients.

Cacioricotta

This Apulian delicacy is a unique blend of cheese and fresh ricotta, made using traditional cheese-making methods and milk from pasture-fed goats or sheep. The fresh milk is heated to 85-90 degrees and then cooled down to 37 degrees before rennet is added, causing both the milk and the whey to coagulate.

a piece of Pugliese cheese is sitting on a cutting board.
Cacioricotta

The end result is a soft, ricotta-like cheese that takes on a semi-hard, straw-yellow hue when aged for two to three months. It has a fragrant, salty, and slightly acidic taste when eaten fresh, and develops a tangier flavour when aged.

This cheese is perfect on its own or grated over local pasta dishes such as orecchiette with basil and tomato sauce.

Pecorino Pugliese

Apulian Pecorino is a semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s milk, primarily produced in the areas surrounding Bari, Murgia, and Dauno Apennines. The cheese is hand-crafted using wooden tools and adhering to old traditions during the lactation period of the sheep, which is between February and October. As a result, it was granted recognition as a traditional agricultural food product of the region.

The fresh version of the cheese is ready to be consumed after just 60 days, while the aged variant must be matured for at least 6 months or longer.

Pecorino di Maglie, made with a mixture of milk from two consecutive milkings, one from dusk and the other from dawn, is a well-known version in the region around Salento. Meanwhile, Pecorino Foggiano from Gargano, in the province of Foggia, is available in both fresh and aged varieties and comes in various sizes.

Pecorino Pugliese has an intense, salty flavour with hints of grass and nuts. The outside rind of the cheese is covered in oil to seal in moisture and flavour. It is excellent with Pugliese wine!

Sweet Caciocavallo

Sweet Caciocavallo is a type of cheese that originated in Southern Italy and is known for its distinctive pear shape. Made from cow’s milk, the cheese is first stretched and kneaded to give it a unique texture that is both chewy and slightly elastic. It is then formed into its characteristic shape and hung to dry, which gives it a slightly sweet flavour and a caramelised exterior.

Sweet Caciocavallo is a versatile cheese that can be eaten both fresh and aged, with its flavour becoming sharper and more intense as it ages.

Food from Puglia: a group of yellow cheese sitting on top of a wooden table.
Pane & Mozza in Alberobello

This cheese is often enjoyed on its own or as a topping on pizza, and is a popular ingredient in many Italian dishes. It is especially popular in the regions of Calabria and Campania, but of course also popular in Puglia, where it is often paired with traditional meats like sopressata and prosciutto.

Further reading: Your Ultimate Guide to visiting Alberobello.

4. Cured Meats from Puglia.

When talking about food from Puglia, cured meats may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet Puglia has a rich tradition of producing local cured meats, although it may not be as well-known as some other regions in Italy. Some of the most famous cured meats from Puglia include:

Soppressata: Food from Puglia

This classic Italian sausage hails from the province of Salerno, with Ricigliano and San Gregorio as its main production centres. The ingredients typically include lean cuts of pork, pork fat, salt, and peppercorns, all of which are stuffed into the skins. After being pierced to release air, the sausage is pressed for a minimum of twenty-four hours before being dried and lightly smoked for a few days.

As an antipasto, the traditional way of serving this sausage is with bread and red wine. It’s a perfect accompaniment to start any meal.

a pile of salami sitting on top of a metal shelf in Puglia
Sopressata sausages

There are different versions of this sausage, particularly in Tuscany and Liguria, but the versions in Apulia and Campania are typically made with a combination of pork, beef, and spices such as garlic and fennel, giving it an intense flavour.

Pancetta Pugliese

This is a type of pancetta made from pork belly that is cured with salt, pepper, and sometimes fennel or other spices. The meat is then rolled tightly and tied with string before being hung to dry in a cool, dry place. It is aged for several months and is often used in traditional Puglian dishes like orecchiette with broccoli rabe.

Capocollo di Martina Franca

Capocollo of Martina Franca is a delicious and highly prized cured meat from Martina Franca in Puglia. This particular variety of capocollo is made from the pork neck and is highly regarded for its flavour and tenderness.

The production of Capocollo of Martina Franca is a traditional process. The pork neck is first seasoned with a mix of salt, pepper, and other spices before being left to rest for a few days. It is then washed, dried, and coated with a mix of hot pepper and olive oil, which gives the meat its characteristic spicy flavour.

a pile of raw meat sitting on top of a table.

The capocollo is then placed in a casing and hung to dry for several months. During this time, it develops its unique aroma and flavour, which is a combination of the spices used during seasoning and the natural sweetness of the pork neck.

Capocollo of Martina Franca is typically served sliced thin as part of an antipasto platter, often accompanied by other cured meats, cheeses, and olives. It is also commonly used in sandwiches or served as a topping for pizza.

Further reading: 14 Beautiful Towns in Puglia, Italy.

Salame di Cardoncello

Salame di Cardoncello is a unique type of salami that is produced exclusively in the Puglia region. It gets its name from the cardoncello mushroom, which is a prized ingredient in Pugliese cuisine. The mushroom is finely chopped and mixed with ground pork meat, which is then seasoned with garlic, pepper, and red chilli flakes. The mixture is then stuffed into natural casings and cured for several weeks to develop its characteristic flavour.

The salami has a distinct earthy flavour and a slightly spicy kick. It can be enjoyed sliced and served on a platter with other cured meats and cheeses. It is also commonly used as an ingredient in pasta dishes, soups, and stews, where its robust flavour adds depth and complexity to the overall dish.

5. Street food from Puglia.

Puglia has a long and rich history of street food that dates back centuries. As a region known for its agricultural abundance and coastal location, Puglia street food is influenced by its fresh and flavourful ingredients. Street food from Puglia can be traced back to the early days of its port cities, where sailors and merchants would gather to exchange goods and stories while snacking on local delicacies.

Panzerotti

Panzerotti are a popular treat in southern Italy, traditionally served during Carnival season. These crescent-shaped turnovers have their roots in Apulia, but are enjoyed throughout the region. They are similar in shape and dough to small calzone pizzas, but differ in preparation. Panzerotti are deep-fried, which has led to their alternate names of calzoni fritti, pizze fritte, and frittelle.

While the classic filling for panzerotti is tomato and mozzarella, they can be filled with a variety of ingredients and combinations. Some popular options include prosciutto and mozzarella, pepperoni and provolone and spinach and ricotta.

Polpette di Ricotta

Ricotta balls, also known as Polpette di ricotta, are a popular snack in Puglia and are considered a classic dish. These fried dumplings are made with a mixture of ricotta, parsley, and eggs, and are usually served with a sprinkle of salt.

While the classic version features ricotta as the main ingredient, there are various other forms of polpette as well, such as those made with meat, vegetables, or seafood. These dumplings can be enjoyed either on their own or as part of a hearty sauce, and are known for their delectable taste and texture.

Frisella

Frisella is a classic flatbread originating from the region that is made with durum wheat and topped with a mix of tomatoes, olives, and herbs. This crunchy treat is ideal for a mid-afternoon snack or as a pre-dinner appetiser.

a pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil on a cutting board.
Frisella

The recipe for frisella is simple, requiring only plain flour, semolina flour, sea salt, yeast, and water. The double-baking process used to create these rusks is what gives them their extended shelf life, making them a favourite among field workers and fishermen in the past. Whether enjoyed on their own or paired with a variety of toppings, frisella continues to be a beloved staple in the Puglian culinary tradition.

Pizza Rustica

When it comes to street food from Puglia, pizza rustica is an absolute must-try. But please note this dish is nothing like pizza!

This mouth-watering treat is a type of savoury pie made with a combination of ricotta cheese, eggs, and various meats such as ham, salami, and prosciutto. The filling is enclosed in a flaky pastry crust, creating a delicious and satisfying snack that is perfect for on-the-go eating.

a close up of a pie on a plate on a table. Puglian food.
Pizza rustica

Pizza rustica is a beloved dish in Puglia, and is often enjoyed as a breakfast or mid-morning snack. It’s not uncommon to see locals grabbing a slice on their way to work, or enjoying a whole pie with friends over a leisurely lunch.

The ingredients used in pizza rustica vary from town to town, with each region putting its own unique twist on this classic dish. Pizza rustica is also known as Italian Easter Pie.

Sgagliozze (fried polenta)

Sgagliozze is a classic street food from Puglia. These crispy fried polenta slices are a popular snack throughout the region, and can be found at street vendors and markets alike. The name sgagliozze comes from the local dialect, and refers to the sound the polenta makes when it’s being fried in hot oil.

To make sgagliozze, polenta is cooked until it becomes thick and creamy, then spread out into a thin layer and left to cool. The polenta is then cut into diamond shapes and fried until golden brown and crispy. Served hot with a sprinkle of salt, sgagliozze are the perfect snack to enjoy while exploring the streets of Puglia.

While it’s not conventional to think of polenta as a southern Italy staple, sgagliozze has been around since ancient times. It is possibly the only way polenta is eaten in Puglia.

Popizze

Popizze are a popular street food in Bari. These small fried dough balls are a beloved snack among locals and visitors alike and can be found in food stands and markets throughout the city.

To make popizze, a simple batter is prepared with flour, water, salt, and yeast. The mixture is left to rise for several hours until it becomes light and airy. Once the dough is ready, small portions are dropped into hot oil and fried until they turn golden brown and crispy.

Popizze can be enjoyed plain, but they are often served with a variety of toppings such as tomato sauce, cheese, and anchovies. They can also be filled with ingredients like ham and cheese, or even sweet fillings like Nutella or jam.

Further reading: My street food tour of Bari (with photos).

Rustico

Rustico is a classic Italian savoury pastry that comes in various fillings sandwiched between two layers of flaky puff pastry. Typically circular in shape, it is usually stuffed with a combination of creamy béchamel sauce, juicy tomatoes, and melty mozzarella cheese. There are also versions that incorporate spinach and ricotta cheese.

A savoury pastry on top of a wooden table.
Rustico

Unlike other rustic dishes from Salento and Lecce, rustico does not have roots in traditional country-style cuisine and is thought to have emerged in the 1700s after the introduction of béchamel sauce. A popular street food item, it is often enjoyed as a breakfast or afternoon snack.

Puddica

Puddica, a traditional Italian flatbread and street food from Puglia, is made with a simple dough that consists of flour, yeast, salt, sugar, water, and olive oil. In the classic version, the dough is topped with ripe tomatoes and sprinkled with oregano, although there are variations that include capers, onions, prosciutto, black olives, and hot peppers.

The flatbread is then placed in a deep dish and baked until it turns a beautiful golden brown colour. Puddica is a beloved local specialty in Brindisi, and it’s often enjoyed as a light lunch paired with cheese or as a delicious afternoon snack.

6. Sandwiches/lunch items from Puglia.

Sandwiches and lunch items from Puglia are not the same as street food from Puglia. Whilst you could of course eat these sandwiches on the street, it is also common for people to sit down in cafes to eat them.

Il Pasqualino sandwich

The Il Pasqualino sandwich is a unique dish from Alberobello. It is made with slices of crusty bread, tuna fish, provolone cheese, capers and salami. It doesn’t sound amazing, but something about it works!

This is a famous item in Alberobello, and you can go into any deli or bakery and ask for a ‘Pasqualino’ and they will know exactly what you mean.

The sandwich is named after Pasquale Dell’Erba, who ran a grocery in the 60s and started to produce this sandwich for the local students who needed a cheap but filling sandwich to get them through their day.

15 Best Alberobello Restaurants, Cafes, Pizzerias, Bakeries, Dairies and Wine Bars.

Puccia Pugliese

Puccia Pugliese is a delightful panini that originated from Salento and Taranto, made with round puccia bread. The bread, which can be made from either pizza or bread dough, has a minimal crumb, making it ideal for stuffing with local cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables.

a close up of a sandwich on a table.
Puccia

Aside from the traditional puccia bread, there are other variants such as the uliate, which is smaller and contains cured black olives, and the puccia made from semolina.

Panino col polpo

The panino col polpo (octopus roll) is a traditional Italian sandwich that originated in the Bari region. The octopus is slowly grilled over embers, with a mixture of olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley brushed onto it as it cooks.

After grilling, the octopus is placed inside a split bread roll and drizzled with the flavourful sauce with rocket leaves. This delicious sandwich is often sold at street stands during Apulian festivals.

I was initially unsure about this sandwich, but I can confirm it was excellent! I’ve included a photo above of the place where my octopus roll came from – said to be the best octopus roll in Bari. Check out my full Bari street food review here.

Calzone di cipolla

Calzone di cipolla is a traditional stuffed bread from Puglia. This is different to the type of calzone we might know at home. Calzone in Puglia is not a folded pizza, but usually a bread. This bread is filled with a savoury mixture of tomatoes, onions, olives, and anchovies. For the best flavour, it’s recommended to use cipolle sponsali or local red onions, known for their sweetness.

The outer layer is made from classic focaccia or bread dough, while the filling may be enriched with grated cheese or raisins, although these are not considered traditional. After baking, the pie should be allowed to cool and can be served at room temperature or slightly warm. It’s said that the best flavour develops the day after baking.

7. Fish and shellfish from Puglia.

The Adriatic sea has influenced food from Puglia with an abundance of seafood options. Among them, local favourites include mussels, anchovies, squid, cuttlefish and swordfish. Freshly caught anchovies are a regional delicacy, and can be enjoyed fried or boiled. You can find all of these delicacies in the bustling fish markets of Bari, Taranto and Brindisi.

a table topped with lots of plates of food in Bari, Puglia.
Bari fish market

Some of the most popular dishes include frittura di pesce (fried fish), seppie alla griglia (grilled cuttlefish), and cozze al sugo (mussels in tomato sauce).

Bari Street food- Octopus rolls on display.
Octopus rolls on display in Bari

Baccalà alla Salentina

An ancient food from Puglia, Baccalà alla Salentina is a traditional dish from the province of Lecce, where it is considered a local delicacy. Baccalà is the Italian word for salted codfish, which is a staple in many Mediterranean and Atlantic cuisines.

The dish has its roots in the region’s fishing tradition, where salted cod was a valuable food source that could be stored for long periods of time. Over time, the recipe evolved to include local ingredients such as tomatoes and hot peppers, which are grown in abundance in the fertile Salento peninsula.

The salted codfish is marinated in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, hot peppers, and tomatoes, then cooked until tender and flaky.

Polpo alla Luciana

Polpo alla Luciana is a classic octopus dish from the Puglia region. The octopus is cooked in a tomato sauce along with garlic, olives, capers and onions. It’s then served over slices of toasted bread or polenta – or as in the version below, served with spaghetti.

a plate of spaghetti with octopus and tomatoes.
Polpo alla Luciana

Spaghetti ai ricci di mare

Spaghetti ai ricci di mare is a classic Italian pasta dish featuring delicate sea urchins, specifically their roe. To preserve the tender texture and flavours of the urchin, it’s important to cook it briefly. The sauce is typically made with olive oil, garlic, and salt, with parsley as an occasional garnish and lemon wedges on the side. While the dish is usually made with spaghetti, linguine can also be used.

This dish can also be found in Sicily and Sardinia, and it’s best enjoyed during the winter season when the urchin is at its peak. In Bari this dish is cooked in open air markets with fresh sea urchins straight off the boats, as well as served in all traditional restaurants too.

Frittura di Pesce

Frittura di Pesce is a classic fish-fry dish from Puglia. It consists of an assortment of freshly caught seafood – such as squid, shrimp and anchovies – that’s coated in a light batter and fried to perfection. This delicious dish is often served with a side of lemon wedges and is a must-try when visiting the Puglia region.

It’s often served with nothing more than lemon juice or salt; however, some places offer additional sauces to really kick it up a notch!

a wooden box filled with food on top of a table.
Fritto Misto Di Pesce

Linguine al cartocci

Linguine al cartoccio is a traditional Italian dish that originated in Puglia but has become popular throughout central and southern Italy. The recipe includes linguine pasta, squid, shrimp, mussels, tomato puree, olive oil, garlic, and parsley.

To prepare, the garlic is sautéed in olive oil until golden, then combined with the seafood, parsley, and tomato puree. The linguine is boiled in salted water until al dente, then tossed with the seafood sauce. The mixture is placed in a baking pan, covered with foil, and baked in the oven for a few minutes.

The finished dish is served immediately while still hot and bursting with flavour.

Tiella di Riso

Tiella di Riso is a traditional rice dish from Puglia. It’s made with rice, potatoes, mussels and tomatoes – all layered together in a dish, then baked until golden and bubbling.

a white plate topped with rice and mussels, a Pugliese speciality. .
Tiella di Riso with mussels

Linguine ai datteri

Another Pugliese seafood pasta dish, this time with razor clams. The recipe typically includes linguine pasta, razor clams, dry white wine, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and parsley, with salt reserved from the pasta water.

To prepare, sauté garlic in olive oil, then add razor clams to the pan and cook covered for a few minutes over high heat. Next, add white wine, oregano, and parsley to the pan and let it simmer for a few minutes. Toss the cooked linguine with the sauce and top with chopped parsley before serving.

Cozze ripiene

A classic Italian dish, cozze ripiene is basically stuffed mussels. Traditionally, the mussels are steamed open, and the liquid is saved to prepare a rich tomato sauce. After stuffing the mussels with a delicious mixture of cheese and breadcrumbs and tying them with a string, they are simmered in the tomato sauce.

This dish is typically served with bread on the side to soak up all of the delicious juices.

a white plate topped with mussels covered in sauce.
Stuffed mussels

Sardine ripiene alla pugliese

The traditional Italian fish dish, Sardine ripiene alla Pugliese, originates from Puglia and is made by stuffing filleted sardines with a mixture of eggs, breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley, and pecorino cheese. Once the stuffing is placed on each sardine, they are folded and arranged in a baking pan, drizzled with olive oil, and baked for about fifteen minutes until cooked through and ready to serve.

8. Meat Dishes from Puglia.

Food from Puglia does not always involve meat. Due to the region’s long history of agriculture and fishing, meat has traditionally been less central to the Puglian diet. However, that’s not to say that Puglia doesn’t have a rich variety of meat dishes to offer.

Lamb meat or mutton is the most commonly consumed meat in the Apuglia region, while horsemeat is also available, but not as widely as lamb. This meat is usually prepared by butchers and street food vendors who use open wood-fired grills called rosticerias to cook it to perfection.

The region’s meat dishes are typically slow-cooked in wood-fired ovens, resulting in succulent stews or large roasted cuts that are carved at the table. Pork is often reserved for special occasions, while beef is not a common ingredient in traditional Puglian recipes.

Bombette

Bombette are small pieces of pork wrapped in pork fat, then deep-fried. This delicious snack can be found all over Puglia, especially in the city of Lecce and Cisternino.

These delightful rolls of pork meat are often filled with a small piece of caciocavallo cheese, salami, salt, pepper, and parsley. Unlike brasciole, bombette are fixed with a toothpick and then strung on a skewer before being barbeque-roasted.

a white plate topped with sausages and tomatoes.
Bombette and Sausages

Ragù del pastore

There is a ragu dish in Puglia called ragù alla Pugliese, a slow-cooked meat sauce typically made with a mix of chicken, beef, pancetta, and pork sausage. However, lamb can also be used to create a delicious variant called ragù del pastore or shepherd’s sauce. This version uses more red pepper, adding a spicy kick to the dish that pairs well with the tender, savoury flavour of the lamb.

Whether made with a mix of meats or lamb alone, ragù alla Pugliese is usually served over pasta, especially the local favourite orecchiette. A sprinkle of canestrato Pugliese or pecorino cheese completes the dish, adding a sharp and salty contrast to the rich meat sauce.

Melanzane Ripiene

Melanzane ripiene is also known as stuffed eggplant (aubergine if you’re British).

It is a hearty dish that combines eggplants with a filling made of meat, cheese, and breadcrumbs. The dish is typically served as a main course, and its rich flavours make it a popular choice among meat lovers.

Melanzane Ripiene dish from Puglia Italy
Melanzane Ripiene

To make melanzane ripiene, eggplants are first sliced in half and hollowed out to make room for the filling. The filling is typically made of ground meat, such as lamb or horsemeat, mixed with breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, and a variety of herbs and spices. The mixture is then spooned into the eggplant halves and baked in the oven until the eggplant is tender and the filling is golden brown.

Cutturiedde

A less common Pugliese dish, Cuttureidde is a type of lamb casserole.

The lamb is mixed with sliced onions, celery, pecorino, tomatoes, chilli peppers, herbs, and salt. The mixture is then packed into a deep copper pot with a narrow mouth or a deep casserole dish. A parchment sheet and a heavy lid are placed over the baking vessel, and it is then cooked for up to three hours until the lamb is tender.

9. Vegetable Dishes from Puglia.

Puglia is known for its rich agricultural landscape, where the fertile soil and sunny climate provide an ideal environment for a variety of vegetables to thrive. Over time, Puglia’s cuisine has evolved to incorporate these native vegetables, resulting in a unique and distinctive culinary tradition. You will find lots of food from Puglia is centered around the region’s vegetables.

Minestrone Dauno

Minestrone dauno is a variety of minestrone soup. Typically prepared in the summer or early autumn, the soup consists of a medley of tomatoes, onions, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, basil, parsley, olive oil, and sugar. The tomatoes are sliced and cooked over low heat with onions, sugar, and olive oil.

After ten minutes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, parsley, and basil are added to the pot, and the soup is simmered until everything is tender. This hearty soup is traditionally served hot and is best enjoyed in a tureen.

Fave e Cicoria

Fave e cicoria, or fava beans and chicory, is a classic dish from the Puglia region that is typically enjoyed in the springtime. The dish is often served as a side dish or as a main course, and it is a great vegetarian option.

a wooden spoon is in a bowl of food.

To make fave e cicoria, dried fava beans are soaked overnight and then boiled until they are tender. The beans are then mashed and sautéed with garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. Chicory is then added to the pan and sautéed until it becomes tender and slightly caramelised. The dish is typically finished with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Minestra di Fave

Minestra di fave, or fava bean soup, is a simple and comforting dish that is perfect for chilly evenings, and it can be served as a main course or as a starter. The dish is made with dried fava beans, which are cooked with vegetables and flavoured with herbs and spices.

To make minestra di fave, dried fava beans are soaked overnight and then boiled until they are tender. The beans are then mashed and combined with sautéed onions, celery, and carrots. The mixture is then simmered with vegetable broth until it becomes a thick soup. The soup is flavoured with herbs such as rosemary and thyme, and finished with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Minestra di fave is a perfect example of Italian cucina povera, which means “poor cuisine”. It is a simple and rustic dish that uses humble ingredients to create a delicious and satisfying meal.

Orecchiette con cime di rapa

One of the most popular pasta dishes in the Italian region of Apulia, especially in Bari, is Orecchiette con cime di rapa (orecchiette with broccoli rabe). The orecchiette pasta has the perfect shape for scooping up the chunky pieces of boiled broccoli rabe, which is a leafy green vegetable closely related to turnip.

a white bowl filled with pasta and broccoli.
Orecchiette con cime di rapa

This simple and rustic dish is made even better with the addition of freshly grated, aged hard cheese, usually Pecorino Romano, and a sprinkle of crushed peperoncino flakes.

Ciceri e tria

Ciceri e tria, a pasta and chickpea dish, has its origins in both Arabic and Sicilian cuisine and has become an unofficial symbol of Apulia’s Salento region.

Typically served as a first course in Italian restaurants, the dish can be enhanced with onions, carrots, garlic, or black pepper. During times of meat scarcity, part of the pasta is fried in olive oil to create a meaty mouthfeel. This simple and inexpensive dish highlights the ingenuity and authenticity of Apulian cuisine.

Pugliese Parmigiana

This version of parmigiana di melanzane features a twist. Instead of eggplant, it sometimes calls for zucchini (courgettes to the British). Other ingredients include olive oil, flour, eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella, and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

To make this dish, the eggplants or zucchinis are peeled, sliced, dredged in flour and eggs, and then fried. A baking dish is prepared by ladling in tomato sauce, followed by fried slices of eggplant or zucchini, mozzarella, and sausage meat. This layering is repeated until the dish is full, ending with a layer of tomato sauce and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Finally, the dish is baked in the oven until the top becomes golden brown.

10. Fruits from Puglia

Apulia is known for its vast olive groves, home to more than 50 million olive trees, making it the largest olive oil producing region in Italy. Aside from olives, the region is known for its rich agricultural production and variety of fruits.

Here are some of the most popular fruits grown in Puglia:

a stone structure in the middle of a field in Puglia.
Olive groves in the Salento area, a traditional rural warehouse named Furnieddhu in local dialect.

Olives

Puglia is famous for its olives, with over 50 million olive trees in the region. In fact, Apulia is home to some of the oldest living olive trees in Italy. The region grows four main olive breeds, including Coratina, Frantoio, Ogliarola Barese, and Leccino.

Prickly pears

The prickly pear, also known as fico d’India, is a sweet and sappy fruit commonly found on cactus plants in the arid plains of Puglia. They are one of the most common fruits in the region between August and October and are similar in taste and texture to kiwis. Prickly pears are often used in desserts or eaten on their own.

a close up of a cactus plant with blue sky in the background.
Prickly pear cactus

Cherries

Puglia produces a wide variety of cherries, including the famous Ciliegia Regina di Puglia. These sweet and juicy cherries are usually harvested in June and July and are a popular ingredient in desserts and jams.

Piselli Nano di Zollino

Piselli Nano di Zollino is a type of sweet, dwarf pea that is a local specialty of Puglia. These yellowish-brown peas are similar in appearance to chickpeas and are grown in the town of Zollino, which is one of nine towns in the Grecìa Salentina. The peas are hand-selected at harvest by local elderly farmers and stored for the following year’s sowing season, preserving their unique biodiversity. Some of the peas are also cooked with garlic, onions, celery, fresh tomatoes, or tossed with tria pasta noodles.

Food from Puglia: Figs

Puglia is also known for its figs, which come in a variety of colours and sizes. The region’s figs are often dried and used in desserts, but they are also enjoyed fresh.

Almonds

Almonds are a staple in Pugliese cuisine and are used in both sweet and savoury dishes. The region’s almonds are especially prized for their delicate flavour and are often used to make almond milk, nougat, and other desserts.

a bunch of nuts are being processed in a machine.
Fresh almonds from Puglia

Oranges

The oranges of Puglia are considered some of the best in Italy. They are usually harvested in winter and early spring and are known for their sweet and juicy flesh, perfect for making fresh juice.

Grapes

Puglia is one of Italy’s largest wine-producing regions and is known for its full-bodied red wines made from grapes such as Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Malvasia Nera. The region’s white wines are also highly regarded and are made from grapes such as Fiano, Verdeca, and Bianco d’Alessano.

Further reading: Guide to wine in Puglia + best wineries in Puglia.

11. Desserts from Puglia.

From simple and rustic treats to elaborate pastries, the desserts of Puglia are diverse and often reflect the region’s agricultural heritage and religious influences. With a focus on using local ingredients such as almonds, figs, and olive oil, Puglia’s desserts are characterised by their simplicity, natural sweetness, and delicious flavours.

Pepe’ di Muraglia

Pepe’ di Muraglia is a traditional sweet from Puglia made with almonds, hazelnuts, and honey. This crunchy treat is usually enjoyed as dessert after dinner, but can also be found in local markets and pastry shops throughout the region

Pasticciotti

Pasticciotti are sweet pastries filled with custard or ricotta cheese and topped with icing sugar. The pastry originated in the city of Lecce and has since become popular throughout Puglia.

a plate with some food on it and a fork. Pasticciotto in Puglia.
Food from Puglia: Pasticciotto

The pastry is made with lard, which makes it extra moist and tasty – but bear in mind this makes it unsuitable for vegan diets.

Fruttone

Fruttone is a classic dessert originating from the Apulia region of Italy, often associated with Salento and the city of Lecce. This sweet treat features a shortcrust pastry shell that is filled with pear or quince jam and almond paste. The oval-shaped pastry is then typically finished off with a thin layer of dark chocolate glaze.

An alternative version of fruttone is made in the shape of a large cake and is known as barchiglia, although it is not as widely known as the original. Fruttone is often compared to pasticciotto, another pastry that is filled with cream, and is a beloved sweet treat in the region.

Pettole

Pettole, otherwise known as Puglian donuts, are a delectable treat! They’re bite-sized balls of dough that have been deliciously fried and usually coated with sugary syrups or dusted in sugar. You can enjoy sweet pettole or savoury pettole. Be warned though: it’s difficult to stop eating them once you start!

a basket filled with fried food on top of a table.
Food from Puglia: Pettole

Torta Colonne

Torta colonne is a classic Italian tart that originates from Puglia. The recipe typically calls for a combination of flour, sugar, sour cherries, cocoa powder, almonds, cinnamon, butter, eggs, vanilla extract, and cherry liqueur or kirschwasser.

To make the tart, the dry ingredients are mixed with butter, almonds, eggs, vanilla extract, and cherry liqueur until the dough is smooth. The dough is then refrigerated for an hour before being rolled out and covered with a layer of sour cherry jam. Another layer of dough is then placed on top and cut into strips.

Before baking, the tart is brushed with egg yolks and baked for approximately an hour until golden brown. Once finished, torta colonne is served chilled.

Gelato

Finally, no trip to Puglia would be complete without trying some of the delicious gelato that can be found throughout the region. From traditional flavours like pistachio and coffee, to more unique ones like almond-fig or honey-ricotta, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

12. Pastries, cakes and Biscuits from Puglia.

Sfogliatelle di Canosa

If you’ve read any of my Naples posts or my 2 day Naples itinerary, you’ll be familiar with the wonderful sfogliatella pastries. However Apulian sfogliatella differs greatly from its famous Neapolitan namesake.

Sfogliatelle di Canosa is filled with a fragrant mixture of toasted and chopped almonds, dark chocolate, quince or grape jam, cinnamon and cloves, lemon zest, and raisins.

The dough is made with flour, sugar, olive oil, and white wine, and is rolled and cut into strips. Each piece is then filled, folded, and shaped into a rose-shaped pastry. Before baking, the pastries are brushed with olive oil and dusted with sugar.

Although they originated in Canosa, these sweet treats are enjoyed throughout the region, particularly during Christmas time.

Ciambella

Ciambella is a traditional Italian ring-shaped cake from the region of Puglia. It’s made with olive oil, sugar, eggs, flour, and fresh lemon zest, and is usually served with a glass of vin santo. This delicious cake can be found in most pastry shops in the region.

a cake sitting on top of a cake plate on a table.
Food from Puglia: Ciambella

Bocconotto

A small Italian dessert known as Bocconotto features a shortcrust pastry shell filled with a variety of ingredients that vary depending on the region. In Abruzzo, chocolate, almonds, and fruit jam are the filling ingredients, whereas black cherries and pastry cream are used in Apulia.

These delectable treats are typically dusted with confectioners’ sugar and traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas season.

two powdered pastries on a plate with a fork.
Food from Puglia: Bocconotti

Cartellate

Cartellate are a type of fried pastry that’s typical to Puglia. They’re made with wheat flour, sugar, honey and white wine – giving them an irresistible sweetness. You can find these treats all over the region, especially in local bakeries.

Cartellate are traditionally prepared in Apulia in the shape of a rose, as it allows for optimal absorption of syrups or cooked wine.

a white plate topped with chocolate covered pretzels and sprinkles.
Cartellate Christmas Cakes

Midnight croissants

Midnight croissants are an iconic Pugliese snack. These crescent-shaped pastries are filled with cream and chocolate, and are perfect for an after-dinner treat. They can be found in most local bakeries. Midnight croissants are also known as ‘cornetti di mezzanotte’ in Italian. These croissants are named after the late-night bakeries that produce them, which open around midnight and sell freshly baked pastries until dawn.

Zeppole

Zeppole pastries are a traditional Italian pastry that are commonly found in Southern Italy, including in Puglia. They are usually eaten during celebrations such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and the Feast of Saint Joseph.

Zeppole are made from a simple dough that is typically fried until it becomes golden brown and crispy. The dough is often flavoured with lemon zest and sometimes enriched with eggs or potato. Once the pastry is fried, it is dusted with powdered sugar and served hot.

a wooden cutting board topped with pastries covered in powdered sugar.
Food from Puglia: Zeppole pastries

Zeppole can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes. In some regions, they are shaped into balls or rings, while in others, they are formed into long strips or spirals. They can also be filled with a variety of sweet or savoury fillings such as custard, chocolate, or ricotta cheese.

13. Wine from Puglia

It would be difficult to talk about food from Puglia without talking about the amazing wine pairings throughout the region. Puglia is known for producing some of the country’s finest wines. With a warm climate and fertile soil, the region is home to a wide range of grape varieties that produce unique wines. Some of the most popular wines from Puglia include Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Salice Salentino.

Primitivo

Primitivo is perhaps the most well-known wine from Puglia, and it is often compared to Zinfandel due to their similar characteristics. The wine Primitivo is made from a grape variety of the same name and is known for its rich, full-bodied flavour with notes of dark fruit and spice. It is typically aged in oak barrels to enhance its complexity and depth.

several bottles of wine are on a shelf.
Primitivo Wine

Negroamaro

Negroamaro is another popular grape variety from Puglia that is used to produce red wines. These wines are typically medium to full-bodied with a deep, dark colour and a complex flavour profile that includes notes of blackberry, cherry, and spice. Negroamaro wines are often aged in oak barrels to soften their tannins and enhance their flavour.

Salice Salentino

Salice Salentino is a DOC wine from Puglia that is made primarily from Negroamaro grapes. These wines are known for their deep color and rich, full-bodied flavour that includes notes of dark fruit and spice. Salice Salentino wines are typically aged for at least two years, with some aging for up to five years, to develop their complexity and depth.

In addition to these red wines, Puglia also produces some excellent white wines, such as Verdeca and Fiano. Verdeca is a crisp, refreshing white wine with a citrusy flavour and a mineral finish. Fiano is a more complex white wine that is known for its floral aromas and notes of honey and almond.

Overall, Puglia is a region that is rich in wine culture and produces some of Italy’s most interesting and unique wines.

In addition to wines, you will also find local beers (especially in Locorotondo) and liqueurs such as grappa and limoncello (not native to Puglia).

Food tours in Puglia

For an introduction to food from Puglia, I recommend trying a food tour in the region. Below are some of the most highly rated food tours available in Puglia from Viator.com:

Lecce history and street food tour. Combined walking tour and food tour, with several tastings along with information about the history of Lecce. 5 star rated.

Ostuni winery tour. Visit a winery just outside Ostuni and enjoy a four course lunch with wine pairings.

Bari street food tour with Do Eat Better. Amazing tour of Bari with many tastings – you can read my full review of this tour here. Make sure you arrive hungry!

Bari walking tour with pasta experience. Bari tour with a cooking class in a local home. Includes food and drink tastings.

Olive oil tasting in Ostuni. Trip to a masseria where you will try olive oils from the region. Once you try Puglian olive oil you will never go back!

Wine tasting experience in the Apulian countryside. About an hour from Trani, this excellent wine tasting includes breads, cheese and cold cuts.

Cheese-making experience in Martina Franca. Discover how cheese is made at a masseria outside Martina Franca, and enjoy a cheese tasting.

Herbs Lab – from plant to glass. This tour takes you on a foraging journey of discovery as you pick herbs in the Salento countryside and learn how to use them in cocktails.

Further reading: Must See Sights: The 30 Best Places to Visit in Puglia.

Food from Puglia: FAQs

Q: What are some typical ingredients used in food from Puglia?

A: Food from Puglia makes use of fresh, local ingredients such as tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and seafood. The region is also known for its bread made from durum wheat flour and its cheeses, such as burrata and mozzarella. Orechiette pasta is a local staple.

Q: What are some traditional dishes from Puglia?

A: Some traditional dishes from Puglia include orecchiette con le cime di rapa (pasta with turnip greens), tiella di riso (baked rice with seafood), focaccia Barese (flatbread with tomatoes and olives), polpo alla pignata (slow-cooked octopus stew), and burrata (fresh cheese made from mozzarella and cream).

Q: Are there any famous desserts from Puglia?

A: Yes, Puglia is known for its desserts, such as pasticciotto (a small pastry filled with custard cream) and cartellate (fried pastries drizzled with honey or vincotto, a sweet grape syrup).

Q: Is seafood a big part of Puglian cuisine?

A: Yes, Puglia has a long coastline, and seafood is a big part of the region’s cuisine. Popular food from Puglia includes seafood dishes like cozze al pomodoro (mussels in tomato sauce) and frittura di pesce (fried seafood platter).

Q: What are some famous wines from Puglia?

A: Puglia is known for producing rich, full-bodied wines such as Primitivo and Negroamaro. The region also produces a popular white wine called Verdeca.

Further reading: Guide to wine in Puglia + best wineries in Puglia.

Q: What is the best time to visit Puglia for food?

A: Puglia is a great destination for food lovers all year round. However, the best time to visit to try food from Puglia would be in the summer, when fresh seafood is readily available and local markets are full of fresh produce. The autumn season is also a great time to visit as it is the harvest season for grapes and olives, which are important ingredients in Puglian cuisine.

Related reading: The Best Time to Visit Alberobello.

Q: Are there any food festivals in Puglia?

A: In the summer months, many towns and villages host their own local food festivals which are packed with delicious regional dishes. There are also music and dance performances to celebrate food from Puglia. Some of the most popular festivals include Le Sagre di San Giuseppe (in Bari), La Festa della Zucca & delle Fragole (in Taranto) and Il Carnevale dei Bambini (in Brindisi).

Q: What time is dinner in Puglia?

A: In Puglia, dinner is usually eaten around 8pm. However, some restaurants may open earlier in the evening if they are expecting customers to arrive for an early dinner. Be sure to check with your waiter or server before making a reservation.

Q: Should you tip in Puglia?

A: Tipping is not customary in Italy but it is always appreciated. A tip of between 5 and 10% on the bill is considered generous. Be sure to check your bill as some restaurants automatically add a service charge.

Further reading: Ultimate Puglia Travel Guide.

Map of Puglia

The Google map below shows some of the most famous towns in Puglia (from my 15 towns in Puglia post). Click the blue icons to see more information about each place, or click the star to add to your own Google Maps.

Food from Puglia – conclusion.

In conclusion, food from Puglia represents a unique culinary tradition that reflects the region’s geography, climate, and cultural influences. With its abundant supply of fresh ingredients such as seafood, vegetables, and fruits, Puglian cuisine is characterised by simple yet flavourful dishes that are cooked with care and attention to detail.

There is a good Pugliese cook book available to buy on Amazon if you would like to try some of the traditional food from Puglia at home.

Food from Puglia: Pin for later.

Related reading: food from Puglia.

Travelling soon? Check my 20 Must-Have Travel Essentials post before you go.

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