Tonight's dinner was brilliant treat from the moment we entered (www.trattorialalocandiera.it) the small 8-10 table tiny family run La Locandiera here in Bernalda. The owners greeting us, while their mother assisted and the aunt was in the kitchen with a giant chef hat, long earrings and glasses on a chain, which would have made a great photo! Chequered red and white table cloths, terra cotta floors and food awards, books and photos adorned the place for an even more family feel, only the wicker chairs were uncomfortable. The 35 Euro menu (under$40) offered us enough to eat for close to 3 hours starting with an amuse of cucumber& caccio ricotta cheese in a large spoon. The five starters were enough to fill us up!!!:
-Frisella was a warm toasted bread with fried red peppers, tomato and basil; I would call it bruschetta gone Basilicata (the region) crazy
-Crappiata was a bean soup made from more types of beans you could count on your hands and meant to celebrate the August harvest
-Zucchini balls were beer battered and fried and served on skewers in the coolest piece of tree bark that resembled an open book (check the FB photos)
-Ciambatta was a jar full of cooked eggplant, peppers and tomatoes
(you may notice the vegetarian theme here as they knew Sam was a vegetarian and totally catered to his tastes)
-the last dish to start was a tomato "soup" concasse with local ricotta and green peppers which they called a "Basilicato Gazpacho" but it was too thick and rich for that simple title and totally won us over (as if this has not happened yet!)
We had a bottle of Calaprici "Amastuola" which is an organic white made form Fiano Bianco & Chardonnay with super strong acidity and dry as can be from nearby Puglia.
The first pasta course was Maccheroncini with creamed ceci bean, bread crumbs and sun dried tomatoes which was an elongated and thin macaroni-style pasta that was divine. Before this arrived, they asked if we like "spicy" and of course we said yes. A bottle filled with oil and pepperoncini was delivered which we tasted on the bread and then were told to add to the pasta for extra spice:OMG!
Sam next had Ricotta and Spinach Ravioli in Tomato Sauce with loads of fresh grated Parmeggiano Reggiano while Will and I chose the truly local Toretelloni with Burrata filling topped with codfish tartare that was out of this world. We did not expect raw fish and it was truly a novel and exciting dish.
Our main course was Braised Pork Cheekin Red Winse sauce that was as tender as it can be and so rich, yet small enough that we were not overstuffed, Some lettuce was on the side to check the dish as we enjoyed it with a glass of local Aglianico del Vulture(only grown in Basilicato) 2012 Liscone that was structured and intense.
Samuel's "main course" was Bread dumplings that looked just like two giant meatballs in tomato sauce which were gone quite quickly.
Dessert was a hit with the boys having Strawberry Marmalade Tart while I went for the local Apricot Jam and Cream over Apricot Semifreddo that was out of this world. Limeoncello arrived for Will and Sam while I loved the Nespolino, a local summer fruit liqueur mixed with almond.
When we thought no more could come a slate arrived with honey biscuits, gelees, chocolate truffles and raisin jelly cake; all were superb.
If I told you this all cost under $200 you would not believe me, but the whole bill with wines, sodas and 3 bottles of sparkling water came to under $165US!!
What an amazing night.