Tag Archives: Puglia

The Art of Eating {and Drinking} Well @ L’Artusi

La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (The Science of cookery and the Art of Eating Well) is an iconic cookbook found in nearly every Italian household and is also known by the shorter name of its author, L’Artusi. I don’t know if it’s more fitting to say the NYC restaurant L’Artusi lives up to that iconic name or to say they are creating their own modern version of the Art of Eating Well through the complex, yet traditional Italian flavors that grace each plate. Either way, it was my selected destination of choice to celebrate Puglia Wine Week, and yes, we ate and drank very very well.

L’Artusi, the sister restaurant of dell’anima, partnered with Apulian wine producer Agricole Vallone to feature several of the best wines from this region and complement each pour with dishes inspired by Apulian cuisine. Agricole Vallone produces wines from three different estates located in Brindisi and Salentino, both found in the most southern region of Puglia known as Salento {the stiletto tip of the boot for those of you less familiar with Italian geography}. The region is known for its breathtaking views of the Adriatic and producing the Negroamaro grape using a traditional Pugliese tree technique. Sounds like a place I need to visit, but for now I’ll settle for an enjoyable evening of local pairings while sporting my own heels.

L'Artusi

To start, we ordered the housemade ricotta with sea salt and lemon, served with a side of raisin-mustard seed marmalade jam and homemade buttermilk crackers, as well as the scallop crudo, sliced thinly and served simply with lemon and olive oil. Our server paired this with the Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Rosato doc 2009. The creaminess of the ricotta and surprisingly light buttermilk crackers were outstanding on their own, but also worked perfectly with the deep pink rosé that exhibited sweet floral and cherry aromas.

L'Artusi Housemade Fresh Ricotta with Sea Salt, Lemon and Homemade Buttermilk Crackers

One of the reasons I love L’Artusi {and dell’anima} so much is because of their small plate, sharing approach to the menu. It’s a great way to sample new flavors and also solves the menu indecision problem that I’m often faced with {just bring a few friends and start ordering!}. The next two plates that followed were unanimously agreed around the table to be two of the best dishes of the evening. The beef carpacio with horseradish crema and rye crisps was so simple, but the crunchiness of the crispy bits and the mustardy kick of the horseradish added a unique depth. The roasted mushrooms with pancetta, fried egg and ricotta salata was my personal favorite — it was sharp, creamy and earthy and had a subtle kick from the pickled chili that was an unexpected, but welcomed surprise. Both dishes went extremely well with the Vereto Salice Salentino Riserva Rosso doc 2006, a 90% Negroamaro red with hints of pepper and chocolate.

L'Artusi Beef Carpacio with Horseradish Crema and Rye Crisps

L'Artusi Roasted Mushrooms with Pancetta, Fried Egg and Ricotta Salata

To finish off the evening we ordered two pasta dishes, but the highlight was an off-the-menu item that arrived from the kitchen and was an incredible celebration of the fall season. Butternut squash ravioli — not an uncommon menu item, but add marscapone cheese, a brown butter sauce and fresh grated parmesan and you have a perfect little package of flavors that would make any taste bud happy.

L'Artusi Special Butternut Squash with Marscapone and Ricotta

“I want to sleep in a pillow of whatever is in that ravioli”
— overheard @ L’Artusi

To pair, we closed out the meal with two reds tasted side-by-side, the Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Riserva doc 2006 and the Graticciaia Salento Rosso igt 2005. Both ruby red in color, the Graticciaia was made in an amarone-style, with 30% dry grapes and 70% fresh, which resulted in a dryer finish but opened up nicely over time and held up to the heavier pasta plates.

Agricole Vallone Wines

Table with a View - L'Artusi's Open Kitchen

The Skim: Uno) Eat at L’Artusi. With a menu featuring an artful list of crudo, veggie, pasta, fish, meat, cheeses and desserts, you won’t have a hard time eating well or creating a satisfying shared table evening. Due) Drink Apulian vino. Next time you’re looking through a wine list and perplexed by the plentiful picks, opt for a Negroamaro, Bombino Biano or Primitivo, three varietals common of the region. And for those of you who care, Puglia is the second largest producer {after Sicily} or organic wines, an indication of the important role agriculture plays in this unique Italian region. Buon Appetito and Salute!

Map: 228 west 10th {btw Hudson & Bleecker}
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212-255-5757


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Mangia, Mangia!

The Art of Brunching Well @ L’Artusi
Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo

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Travel Bite: Puglia on a Plate

In honor of Puglia Wine Week and to bring you a special edition from the hills of Italy, I asked my brother to contribute a guest blog recapping the honeymoon highlights from Puglia. So much to say and eat, so grab a glass of vino and enjoy!

Guest Grubber: Brian D.
When we were choosing our honeymoon destination it was pretty daunting to know that we could go anywhere in the world we wanted and that we were about to escape for three weeks of uninterrupted freedom.  Since both of us are gainfully employed by companies we do not own, it was pretty clear to us that this opportunity doesn’t come around all that often.  Because of that, the paradox of choice kicked in in a big way and we struggled to narrow it down to a short list.  We made our way through all of the continents and ultimately came to the conclusion that we wanted to go somewhere with good weather, great food and to a place that neither of us had been before.

After checking the September weather patterns of almost every place on earth, our final decision was to travel to southern Italy and make our way by car from Puglia, through Calabria and into Sicily.  Interestingly, we went into the trip thinking that it was going to be all about Sicily, but now that we are home it is clear that the star of the three weeks was our time in PugliaPuglia, for those that don’t know, is the region of Italy in the “heel of the boot”.

Puglia, or Apulia, is an interesting place.  It is more agricultural, than industrial, and it is definitely a much less popular tourist destination than some of the bigger cities like Rome and Florence or areas like the Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast.  The accommodations in the area are based largely on the concept of Agritourism, where people stay at farmhouses, or “Masserias”, that were fortified back in the days when the landowners had to deal with foreign intruders and have since been converted into very comfortable bed & breakfasts.  The place we stayed was called Masseria Torre Coccaro, a 39 room country estate halfway between the airports of Bari and Brindisi and surrounded by acres of olive groves and vegetable gardens.

Masseria Torre Coccaro

We stayed at Coccaro for 7 nights and used it as our base to explore the region.  In hindsight, we couldn’t have chosen a better place and, unfortunately for our waistlines, we were able to sample some of the best food we have ever tasted.  Here are the highlight bites:

The restaurant at Torre Coccaro

Fresh Seafood from Savelletri

Set in stables from the 1600’s, the restaurant offered up some of the best food on our trip. First off, their breakfast put the rest of the hotels we stayed at to shame.  As for the rest of the meals, they collaborated with local farmers and bordering Masserias to source the best meats and cheeses.  They had a network of people that help them find wild products like porcini and cardoncelli mushrooms, asparagus, snails, myrtle and berries.  The nearby fishing village of Savelletri brought them fish daily, including freshly-caught scampi, shrimp, tuna, snapper, and local spiny lobsters. To top that off, almost all the fruits and vegetables served are produced on the estate.

Cooking School at Torre Coccaro
This wasn’t something we planned to do, but when we arrived at the property and learned that there was a school on site we couldn’t pass it up.  We had a ton of fun with chef Donato, learning how to make typical Apulian dishes including fresh bread, 6 or 7 different types of pasta, a simple pizza with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and capers, a fried version of a calzone called “Panzerotto” that is unique to the region, sautéed “sweet olives” that were picked that day and unlike anything I have ever had, an eggplant terrine and baked fish (Orata) with fresh vegetables.  Luckily we weren’t forced to eat everything we made, but we were able to sample most of them.  Needless to say, we didn’t have dinner that night!

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Local Puglia “Mozzarella Farm”
Another treat that was offered up on arrival was a visit to the farm just down the road that raised cows and made fresh mozzarella and burrata cheese daily.  For those that don’t know, “burrata” means buttered in Italian and is usually made from mozzarella and cream.  The outer shell is solid mozzarella and the inside usually contains both mozzarella and cream.  That said, this farm also made another version of burrata filled with fresh ricotta, which was new to me and even better than the classic version…who knew it was possible.  Believe it or not, we spent 45 minutes with 3 workers that spoke about 3 words of English, collectively.  It could have had something to do with the free samples they kept pushing on us, but we just couldn’t tear ourselves away.

Hand Pulling Mozzarella

Masseria Il Frantorio
Another masseria, Il Frantorio, just down the road and on the way to the town of Ostuni, gave us one of the culinary highlights of the trip.  They served up a seven course meal that was both creative and delicious.  So much so that we didn’t realize that the entire meal was almost entirely vegetables (sourced from their garden on the property of course, BUT vegetables nonetheless!)  It wasn’t until the last main course, when a filet of local swordfish was served, that we looked at each other and said “wow, I didn’t even notice”.  The highlight of the meal was a pair of fried carciofi (artichokes) drizzled with reduced sweet wine alongside lampascioni fritti (hyacinth bulbs) with orange honey.  Pretty simple, but super delicious when paired with a glass of late harvest Primitivo di Manduria.

Fried Carciofi at Il Frantorio

Al Fornello di Ricci
In the town of Ceglie Messapica lies a restaurant called Al Fornello di Ricci that Mario Batali called the best in Puglia.

“The place is perfect! If you are within 200 miles of this place and choose not to eat here, you are mistaken” Mario Batali

Needless to say, we are suckers for marketing, or at least Batali hype, so we had to check it out.  The meal did not disappoint.  Across the board, the dishes were simple, but the flavor of each was intense.  We knew we were in the right place when the tasting menu kicked off with a selection of eight different antipasti, ranging from simple beet chips to fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with fresh ricotta.  After that we had two pasta courses, a main of locally-raised lamb, and dessert — each course paired with a different wine and included in the fixed price.  Delicious. The only downside was the 45 minute drive back to Coccaro after the meal…as you might expect, driving on Italian country roads while in a food coma isn’t usually a recipe for success.

Fava Bean Crostini and Fried Zucchini Blossoms

I could probably keep going, as there are tons of other great meals and experiences that I left out, but it’s really just more of the same goodness.  So as the Italians say, “Basta!!!” or “enough”.

Overall the trip to Puglia far exceeded our expectations and the fact that it never felt touristy and overrun just made it that much more special.  We came home with the feeling that we had somehow outsmarted the rest of the tourists in Italy, standing in line at the Uffizi in Florence or craning their necks to take in the tower in Pisa.  We couldn’t be happier with our decision to spend a week there and in some ways wish it was longer.  Our only fear now is that we don’t get back before the rest of the world figures out what a great region it is!

Non Basta?
Do This!: First Ever Puglia Wine Week
Bistro Don Giovanni: Napa-Sourced & Italian-Inspired
Bocca di Bacco: I say PotaTO, You say PoTATo

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