Taste of Puglia

5 Apulian typical dishes that should never miss in your holiday in Puglia

On our Puglia small group tours, sitting together at a table is a real pleasure for all senses. Apulian cuisine is simple enhancement of genuine products, that are the base of the Mediterranean Diet, grown in the sun of this generous land and from the marvelous sea that surrounds it.
Vegetables from Bari countryside, wheat from Apulian tableland, fish from the Adriatic and Ionian Sea, extra virgin olive oil from century-old olive trees: ingredients that are the foundation of the best Apulian typical dishes.

Discover 5 Apulian typical dishes made of authentic tastes that should never miss in our Puglia tours. Please take a seat!


1# Orecchiette con cime di rapa (Pasta with turnip tops)

Pasta is naturally a must in all Italy, but in Puglia, we take pride in the traditional recipe of “orecchiette”. Literally it means “small ears” and this name derives from the shape of this type of pasta, i.e. ear-shaped shells made daily by hand by the Italian ladies and can often be found on a table outside their home in the towns.

Their origin is controversial: according to some historians, “orecchiette” spread across Puglia between the 12th and 13th century, brought by the Angevin Empire during the Middle Ages. Today they are also called in dialect "strasc'nat", literally “to drag”, in order to remind you of the finger movement on the table, which drags on the wheat to give this typical hollow shape.  “Orecchiette” can be tasted with different sauces, but the classical recipe combines this pasta at best with turnip tops.

orecchiette e cime di rapa

2# Focaccia of Bari (flat bread topped with tomatoes)

Round, high, filled and topped with tomatoes and olives: the focaccia is the queen of street food of Bari, but is still spread in every corner of the region and sold in thousands of different versions. With onions, eggplants, vegetables, cold cuts and the list goes on and on.

The name derives from the word “focus”, literally fire in Latin: already the Greeks used to cook flour dough on it, using water and salt. Apulian Focaccia is originally from Altamura, the homeland of the renowned durum wheat bread baked in the wood oven. The focaccia is warm and crispy, ideal as a snack for every hour of the day!

Apulian focaccia

3# Tiella riso, patate e cozze (rice, potatoes and mussels)

Tiella” is the name of the cooking pan, strictly a clay pot, where this traditional recipe is made: land and sea melt together in this pan that features ingredients such as rice, potatoes and mussels.

Originally it was prepared on Apulian bank holidays, and today it is a delicious main course served warm but also cold if you are at the beach. While this dish has been inebriating the streets of Apulian cities, and especially the city of Bari, there is no doubt that the recipe was imported during the Bourbon dynasty and then adapted to the tastes of Apulian people.

rice, potatoes and mussels

4# Brasciole e bombette (horse meat rolls and meat roulades)

In a lot of households in Puglia, especially in the province of Bari and Brindisi, “brasciole”, i.e. horse meat rolls stewed in tomato sauce, are still the most typical dish that you can find on Sundays, when all the family reunite at the table. It was considered as a poor dish, as horse meat was less expensive than other cuts and nowadays, it represents a delicious culinary highlight.

Another proper meat meal is the tradition performed by “macelleria” butchers: you pick out the cut of meat and watch while the butcher cooks it immediately on a charcoal grill or in a wood-burning stove. In Itria Valley and especially in Cisternino, you won’t miss the mouth-watering “bombette”, meat roulades stuffed with cheese. This dish is definitely worth trying!

bombette pugliesi

5# Pasticciotto (cream-filled pastry)

Last but not least, we really have to mention the most beloved sweet in Puglia. A coffee with a “pasticiotto” in the morning is the perfect way to start a sunny day in Puglia, especially in Salento, where this tradition comes from.

This shortcrust pastry is filled with custard and cream, and it has been a pride of every pastry shop in Lecce since the 18th century. The story tells that a pastry maker in Galatina didn’t have enough ingredients to create a regular pie, and so he baked a tiny one. This tiny pie was welcomed by all customers and so the tradition passed down to pastry makers’ generations.

pasticciotto leccese