Sunday 31 July 2011

Pizzeria alla Panca, Via Principe Umberto, Martina Franca, Puglia, Italy

Opposite one of Martina Franca's extravagantly-carved churches, Pizzeria alla Panca is a big, bustling restaurant with lots of atmosphere. Inside, white cloisters arc over venerable pews separated by elegant wooden partions.  Outside, there is a large terrace in the street and the tables soon fill up with big Italian parties. To start, the antipasti is a seemingly endless stream of small tapas-style dishes, including carpaccio, meat balls, fried vegetables in batter, cured ham and baby mozzarellas. It's pretty good and pretty generous. There is also a broad selection of big, filling pizzas priced between 4 and 7 euros. The carpaccio pizza with rocket, served on a good base, is a winner, while the calzone is massive and packed with meat and cheese. The house red wine, served in carafes, is cheap and chilled, but quite drinkable. Understandably, the waitresses can get rushed, but they do a good job managing the crush. Pizzeria alla Panca is a deserved hit. 8/10