Last summer my dear friends, Stefania and Francesco, invited me to a lunch in the cult Osteria Antichi Sapori, located in Montegrosso, a bucolic village in Murgia countryside of Apulia region. At the time I was spending my summer holiday in Ostuni, 200 km away from that place, but despite the distance I didn’t hesitate to reach my friends for the lunch, and it was totally worth it.
When we were approaching the restaurant, we were surrounded by the silence that characterises this peculiar countryside, where olive trees stretch for hundreds of meters, interrupted just by vineyards and bounded by long dry-stone walls. In this area the most widespread cultivations are the Coratina olive trees, of which the unique “gold of Apulia” extra-virgin olive oil is made. In addition to that, it is worth mentioning the ancient grapevine Uva di Troia that produces the distinctive Nero di Troia red wine, one of the most known and typical wine of Apulia.
As soon as we arrived at the restaurant we were immediately hooked with this cozy place. We were welcomed by our friends and the cook-owner of the restaurant, Pietro Zito, who told us the story of his Osteria. He proudly wished to mention that he is not a chef but a cook and that he grew up in that village where the restaurant is located, feeling himself part of the landscape.
His philosophy is that “Antichi Sapori kitchen is managed by few simple rules: the love for the traditions, the respect for raw materials, seasonality and the excellence of the ingredients. You can watch the cooks work through a large window overlooking the hall or decide to personally visit the kitchen. Simplicity and genuineness are skills not to be hidden” (cit. Antichi Sapori).
Pietro let us enter his garden which is a biodynamic vegetable garden with Mediterranean scents of thyme and oregano, sage and marjoram and much, much more. This corner of northern Murgia is like a mosaic of biodiversity which he intends to preserve.
The lunch we got to eat was simply delicious, every dish was genuine and tasty. We ended the lunch eating one of the most delicious dessert we ever had: Ricotta and Almond paste Cassatina.
At the end of the day, Pietro gave the children a small bag of homemade caramelised almonds, and we received two of his valuable recipes.
Thanks Pietro and our dear friends, Stefania and Francesco, for inviting us to a such unforgettable day!
If you wish to continue this imaginary journey to Apulia with us, give “Antichi Sapori” recipes a try, without forgetting to pair them with two local wines: Rosè Wine CALAFURIA Tormaresca and Organic Red Wine ALMAGIA di Giancarlo Ceci.