Where to eat and drink well in Lecce (places I’m used to)
Sometimes friends ask me about where to hang out in Lecce.
I’m able to get to the point and come up with ideas only when I write on this blog, that has by now become the place where my most organic synapses are held.
I’m a woman of habits: when I go out in Lecce, I usually go to the same places.
That is why I’m the most appropriate person to say what are the places in Lecce you just can’t miss. (“De menu” (don’t boast too much) they would say in my town, with a phrase only a local would understand).
Kidding and megalomaniac delusions aside, a common feature of the people and nightlife in Lecce (you’ll excuse me if I don’t use the word movida) is that, apart for some exceptions, locals and tourists go to the same places.
Part of the reason is that “this is Lecce” as they say (which means the town is all in all small and many interesting things and places are located in the same area), partly because some places are really top quality.
Here’s my list of places that deserve paying a visit.
Barroccio (obelisk, at the end of Viale dell’Università, in front of Porta Napoli)
I often spend time there. I choose it because it’s located on a through road, neither in the historic centre (but very close to it) nor in the suburbs, because it’s simple and trendy, not too expensive and very informal.
Once there, you can take a seat and then go inside to place your order (there’s no table service), then you can leave whenever you want (I advise you to pay first). You can spend hours in this place just sipping a coffee, or even sit at another table if you find one you like more, well…you can basically do whatever you want.
Barroccio is a stall with a covering for the tables.
In the area in front, it usually hosts several live events of different kind (jazz, folk, mixed bag [because I don’t even want to use the word fusion today], jam session). When there’s music there’s always a lot of people and it’s really easy to get to know each other. So, if you are a lonely traveller, turn on your Tinder notifications or simply your “friendly and social” mode (if you still remember how to do it) and the evening will be a success.
Note: Barroccio is open all day long, so you can go there for a coffee, appetizer, fruit shake or juice. Just like a local. Just like me.
Note2: people don’t go there to eat. Apart from snacks, small appetizer panini, chips and fruit, if you are really hungry you’d better go to another place. Like, for example, moving a few metres away to go to…
Succursale (Via Reale 15. behind Barroccio)
Well, they got stuff to eat here. From pizza (for the lovers of the large and soft crust) to typical “puccia” bread with bits of horse meat (all local stuff).
A wide range of salads, tasty cold cuts…to sum up, here you have a lot of choice and good quality
Cantiere Hambirreria (Via Reale, close to the Succursale and the chinese restaurant [don’t go there])
Picture stolen from the Cantiere Hambirreria Facebook profile
Cantiere Hambirreria has recently opened and it is very close to the Succursale.
It’s a good pub with good live events. I’ve fallen in love with the industrial style interiors and the efficient service right from the very first time.
The place clearly has a good selection of beer and delicious “tarallini”, which might seem a useless information but it’s not, if you come from Puglia.
Molly Malone (Via Cavallotto, 2. Behind the square with the post office. Close to a century-old tree)
This is the place where the best Salento live music season begins (in my opinion, one of the best in Italy). Keep track of this place because the outdoors live events, close to the beautiful Phytolacca tree (a monument of nature older than 150 years), are really good.
At the Molly Irish pub, plunged into a very relaxed atmosphere, you’ll have the chance to meet people like Giuliano, the singer of the Negramaro band, or the comedian Tony Bonji (who, by the way, is my brother). During summer, when different concerts are hosted in town, you might bump into artists like Nicolò Fabi, Carmen Consoli, Max Gazzé or the Sud Sound System…or watch them sit next to you after the concert.
Molly Malone is actually related to the agency that organizes the best concerts in Puglia, so passing by this place is also a way to get some insight into what’s going on and what’s in store at local level in terms of good music.
I personally choose the Molly when I want a good pizza but I don’t wanna go to a pizzeria (I love the thin and crunchy type) or for a good sandwich. And for the beer, goes without saying.
Mastro (via libertini, 56. Get into the old town from Porta Rudiae and go straight. You’ll find it on your left)
I like everything about this place at the moment. From the interiors to the home-made wine and beers they serve you. From its easy pub nature to the service and the highly stylish setting like that of a restaurant, a good one indeed.
Delicious food, prepared in funny and tasty recipes.
Prices are higher than a pub but lower than a restaurant. Yet the quality is way higher than many examples of both categories.
Caffè Letterario (via paladini, 46)
What strikes you to the heart at the Caffè Letterario is the atmosphere. The place is quite small but there’s always space for exibitions, concerts, theatre shows.
I have no idea if it ever changed manager and how many there might have been; I always get back to this place to remember how nice it feels to be radical chic and drink wine or tea, eat a pie or some appetizer while commenting on a painting or chatting about music.
During summer, you can also sit outside and enjoy your drink while resting on a small couch or a colourful pallet made into a sofa.
The place to go if you’re in a group and everyone likes different things to drink: weird teas? local wine? spirits or cocktails? there’s everything here.
Not that much to eat, though I know they can order stuff for you from the pubs and restaurants nearby, so in some cases you can also manage to tame your hunger.
Baldieri dolce e salato (Piazza Mazzini, right after entering the gallery)
You know when you’re not really hungry but more like into the “gimme everything you have” mood? Well, Baldieri dolce e salato is a place that might do for you, plus it’s also on the map of the Italian accessible places (whatever store, shop or public place you go to, take a picture if the entrance has a flat level access and the restrooms are accessible to differently able people, then post in on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #accessibilityiscool #movidabilia).
Sensi (Viale Giovanni Paolo II, 9)
If you’re into some good appetizers or want to have breakfast with the tastiest sweets and cakes, you might also want to go into the suburbs a little bit, at least you won’t be driving around for hours looking for a place to park.
A few days ago, I discovered Sensi, both bar, ice cream shop and appetizer place located in a nice area, close to a city park and with an open courtyard.
The road of the pubs
The “road of the pubs”, also known as “Via federico d’aragona”, is a worderful road in the old town where churches and historic builidings alternate with pubs, some of them among the oldest in Lecce (there’s been a time, between the end of the nineties and the start of 2000, when the natural life cycle of the people in Lecce was: birth, growth, opening up a pub, reproduction, death. A couple of years ago “Opening up a pub” got replaced by “participation in the “Principi Attivi” call for applications” but this is recent local history, not that interesting considering you wanna have a drink).
My favorite pubs on this road are the Road 66, an American style pub that has been successful for more than 20 years, and there must be a reason for that, and La Negra Tomasa (that I choose for the sangria, the pizza and for the friendliest waiter I’ve ever met, a Greek guy whose name I ignore but who’s always in a good and contagious mood)
l’Angiulinu (Via principi di savoia, 24. Get downtown through porta Napoli and walk straight about 150 mt)
If detective Montalbano were from Lecce, he would have eaten at l’Angiulinu (the place is actually called Trattoria da Angiolino, but I think the owner doesn’t even know it).
It’s a nice and cheap Osteria type restaurant in the historic centre, with basically all the local food one might want to try.
Povero (via francesco rubrichi, 4)
Pub-trattoria-restaurant, I’ve never known it. The point is you eat well and the wine is great! I like it because it’s one of those places where you can have local food but with style and many interesting contaminations (let’s be honest: the concept of typical food is as much overrated as non-existent).
You can choose from the cold cuts and cheese selection, with everything on sight and prepared right on the spot, or get inspired by the daily menu. I usually go there when I wanna have lunch out and celebrate random things.
Among different things, you can also write on the walls. Whatever, just take a pen or a marker and write.
Il poeta contadino (Piazza Castromediano Sigismondo, 8)
A recent discovery, I’ve come back to this place twice now. For the wine and the turnips, that aren’t just served with pasta or simply sautéed, but also served on very large bruschetta bread.
You can’t walk the road to nirvana without Negramaro and bruschetta.
I’m feeling inspired so I’ll go on and bring you out of town.
La cantiniera (Via Principe di Napoli, 34, Racale)
Small place, selling wine and spirits, refined cold cuts and different paté stuff. You won’t eat with just 10 euros, I’ll tell you straight!
Yet, all my wine and food addictions of the past five years were actually born here.
During summer, they use the inner courtyard for live music and themed events.
In winter, they often host cooking evenings from different parts of the world (and in these cases, the quality-price ratio of the dinner is more than favorable).
And then I bet you’ll love the owners, Marcella and Fabrizio.
La Casaccia (Via Filippo Turati, 3, 73026 Torre Dell’Orso)
Another stolen picture, this time from the Facebook page of La Casaccia parabirreria
Let’s move towards the sea. I can make long lists because, as I was saying, I’m boring and tied to my habits. Among my habits and those of many other people, there’s the drink at the Casaccia in Torre dell’Orso.
Sea view: got it.
Music: basically, all summer long.
Libations and drink: damn sure.
People: a lot.
l’Isola (isola lo scoglio, Porto Cesareo)
Let’s enjoy beauty, the only real privilege and wealth that Briatore will definitely never ever understand.
We are in Porto Cesareo, on a small island with canopy beds, sun beds and sofas.
This is luxury for me, sipping white wine on the beach after having been at the beach. Elegant location with a view that you won’t even feel like posting on Instagram, just to enjoy it without filters.
By the way, it’s way less (really really less) expensive than what Twiga would cost. But, to translate into standard Italian the words of the farmer I met the other day, who offered me some plums and loquats while I was catching sun on the rocks of Castro,
“(Briatore or whoever you are), you don’t have enough money to buy the things that nobody wants to sell you”.
Friends from Lecce and the nearby area, leave a comment and write about your favorite places for my friends and the friends of friends that are shortly coming to visit us (it’s better to leave a comment here than on Facebook, to let our and your lists be longer available online).