Monday 1 August 2011

La Taverna del Duca, Via Papatotero, Locorotondo, Puglia

Targeting discerning tourists, La Taverna del Duca has a handful of outdoor tables in a charming alley near the old heart of this appealing whitewashed hilltop town. At lunch time, there is likely to be a very limited selection of dishes, but don't let that put you off. Catering for its international clientele, La Taverna's menu is translated into English, but the food is  pure Puglia. The portions are generous so you may not need to spend 12 euros on the antipasti. Among the primi courses, the mashed beans with chicory is quite creamy and moreish, while the oriecchiette with ragu sauce and meat balls is also good value (both 8-9 euros), as is the even cheaper orecchiette in a tomato sauce. But the black beans and pasta (7 euros) in a rich, salty sauce is the best of the lot. Another delicious dish is the ripe and flavoursome tomatoes with baby mozarella (6 euros). However, the bread you get in exchange for the two euro cover charge isn't so great and the only coffee on offer is an expresso. Moreover, you have to clamber through some cleaning equipment to get to the toilet. Still, La Taverna del Duca's service is slick and engaging, while the setting is idyllic Italy. 7/10