Address: Via Monte S. Michele 25/29, 70011 Alberobello, Italy
Telephone: +39 0804322789
I was travelling in the Mediterranean in July this year, and one of my destinations was Alberobello, a small town in the province of Bari, in Puglia, Italy. The Trulli of Alberobello, limestone dwellings with conical roofs found in Alberobello, have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for their distinctive architectural features.
The construction style of trulli is specific to the Itria Valley in Apulia. These trulli are an exceptional example of vernacular architecture, and Alberobello is one of the best preserved and most homogeneous urban areas of this type in Europe. Trulli were historically constructed as shelters, storehouses or permanent dwellings by small proprietors or agricultural labourers. Many of these trulli were topped by a white cap called “pinnacolo“, and there are some curious symbols painted on the roofs, which are possibly good-luck charms.
The fact that these prehistoric buildings are still occupied makes them unique.
On a beautiful, sunny day, we wandered along the streets of this mysterious town, soaking up its charm, when we passed by the entrance of L’Aratro, a small local Italian restaurant. It was around 2pm in the afternoon and, feeling a bit hungry, we decided to have a late lunch there.
Given the restaurant’s prime location on one of the main streets of Alberobello, we didn’t have high hopes for the food and only prayed that we didn’t enter a tourist trap. The menu was written in different languages, including in English, which was not a particularly good sign either. However, the meal completely exceeded our expectations.
Water was brought to us in an elegant blue glass bottle, with the restaurant’s name embossed on it.
(1) Some bread and focaccia were brought to our table. These were not warm, and were a tad try.
(2) We ordered a simple plate of fresh ricotta cheese with ham, and these were delicious beyond words. The ricotta cheese, smooth, milky and stunningly fresh, was the epitome of Italian food’s rustic goodness. The thinly sliced, salty ham formed a perfect unison with the cheese.
(3) A simple vegetable pasta arrived next. Simply dressed in some olive oil, the mild bitterness of the vegetables brought the pasta onto a whole different level of tastiness. A little sprinkling of cheese completed the dish.
(4) The beans pasta followed, cooked with kidney beans and tomatoes and served with some mashed potato. The mashed potato was moderately runny with a nicely grainy texture. For reasons beyond my comprehension, the potatoes, beans and pasta somehow formed a sublime symphony of mellow, unforgettably scrumptious flavours.
(5) We didn’t order any meat or fish, and went straight for the desserts and shared a panna cotta with berries. The panna cotta could have been creamier, but the sauce was spot-on and had just the right level of thickness and sweetness.
The simple, rustic dishes at L’Aratro were well-executed and boasted startlingly fresh and delightful flavours. This unexpectedly terrific meal has strengthened my love for this charming, artistic country.