Bari specialises in hearty peasant fare with simple ingredients drawn from land and sea alike in a myriad of bold flavours and traditional recipes.
Pride of place goes to orecchiette with rapini. Orecchiette, or “L strasc’nat” as they are called in local dialect, are typical Apulia pasta shapes made simply from water and durum wheat flour. The pasta is shaped into little ears, or orecchiette.
Orecchiette are served with a number of sauces, depending on which part of Apulia you visit: with cauliflower, broccoli or meat sauce, but the most typical version in Bari is with rapini, always accompanied by olive oil and generous Apulian wines.
A must on the menus of all the best restaurants in the city, you can also buy freshly-made orecchiette from the local women who set up their stalls in front of the Swabian Castle, in the historic centre of Bari, who can also give a few excellent tips on the traditional way of cooking orecchiette with rapini.
If you don’t want to cook your own orecchiette, head for one of the many restaurants on the edge of the old city with splendid views of the coast. Here you can try many of the region’s typical dishes, like cavatelli pasta with clams and beans, chicory and fava bean puree, mussels in pepper broth, and baked lampascioni onions, in addition to the signature orecchiette with rapini.