by The Urban Grocer in Cool Travel on Wednesday 22 July 2009

Italy is one of those places where every town, village, and city claims to have the best restaurant in the country. And while the majority of eateries are knockout, I’m pretty confident that despite all the grandiose claims, one of the best restaurants is hidden in the deep south in Puglia, at an unassuming ten-table family-run joint. Yet, at Antichi Sapori, it is not this quaintness that wows you, appealing as it is, but it is the food that is fall-off-your-chair unreal at this tiny spot. Everything here is fresh, local, handmade, still warm, just picked, first-pressed, or perfectly ripe.

The foods are simple, understated even, but the flavors untouchable and with an intensity and depth that borders on the absurd. Handmade ricottas are light and velvety; homemade pepperoni and dried sausages are peppery and perfectly fatty; local black olives are served blistering hot; and bruschetta is smothered in the restaurant’s own olive oil.

This is a mere sampling of the smorgasbord that patrons are served into the wee hours. Granted, there is nothing hip or stylish or trendy about this place — although Puglia is making a name for itself as an off-the-beaten-path sort of hot spot — but once you are at Antichi Sapori, all that matters is the food.