Eat Puglia | La Cucina di Mamma Elvira
Puglia may be known for its beaches, olive groves and ancient hilltop towns. But you come to our region to eat. Food is so important here culturally, and not just the food itself. As important is the business of sitting down to eat together. We were reminded of this on our last visit to Mamma Elvira this festa dell'Epifania.
La Cucina di Mamma Elvira had already found its way onto our curated list of Puglia’s best restaurants, places we recommend you go out of your way to eat at.
Here regional dishes and local specialities are dished up. As well as anchovies, baccalà and eggplant polpette you will find ciceri e tria, a speciality of Lecce (pasta and chickpea is a revelation; a stunningly simple combination served in a velvety sauce and topped with crunchy fried pasta), and horse meat.
However you feel about it, horse meat remains an important part of our region’s culinary tradition, no different from eating other farm animals. In Puglia each town has at least one Macelleria Equina.
Unless you are squeamish or sentimental about eating it, we urge you not shy away from Mamma Elvira’s pezzetti di cavallo. It was wonderful. Cooked in a flavourful and fiery tomato-based sauce, the chilli heat perfectly balancing the sweetness of the meat.
Equally flavourful was the orecchiette con ragù di scottona, served with oversized orecchiette.
In contrast the ciceri e tria, although decent, was not the best we have had in Lecce. A little under seasoned for us, served in a brodo rather than the wonderfully lush emulsion we are accustomed to.
There is always room for a dolce and even though it was January we couldn’t resist the semifreddo al pistacchio, deliciously salted.
Service at La Cucina di Mamma Elvira was as unfussy as the surroundings. Friendly and enthusiastic without being overbearing. We left the wine recommendation to the restaurant. They let us taste before we chose, which included opening a bottle of wine for us which we declined. It was a full bodied primitivo but at 70€ not special enough! Still, full marks for opening it for us to try.
When the bill came it usefully set out the price per person: 49€ including wine, water, coffee and cover with 5 starters, 3 primi and one secondo and two deserts. This does put Mamma Elvira in the upper mid-range price bracket relative to our local eating out budget, though still less than nearby often recommended restaurants.
Via Ludovico Maremonti 33, 73100 Lecce
+39 331 579 5127
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