At the Braceria, the Puglia equivalent of a grill house, there’s a curious absence of pasta. It’s all about the meat.
The butcher counter boasts a healthy appetite of meat. Sausages, bombette and steak. Make your selection (pay by weight at the end of the meal) and the cooked skewers will be brought to the table straight from the grill.
Bombette pugliesi are one of Puglia’s stand out food traditions served across the south of Puglia as a popular street food at carnivals and festivals. Bite size parcels of thin meat, usually pork but sometimes veal or beef, filled with cheese, cured meats and herbs. Tightly skewered and grilled over glowing olive wood embers that spontaneously burst into flame as the fat drips, or in a traditional clay oven.
Be aware of over ordering. The counter is a feast for the eyes and we often take home a surfeit of leftover. If in doubt be guided by the waiters. They know best how much is enough and how much is too much.
This is one of the few restaurants where we dive straight into the main event without warming up on appetisers.
Sides dishes, ordered at the table, present another challenge. With braceria we always take patate al forno, oven baked potatoes, usually seasoned with salt and rosemary. Firm and waxy they perfectly compliment the succulent juiciness of the grilled meat.
Two other sides are exceptional at Braceria Pomodoro. The verdure miste pastellate, tempura al dente vegetables caressed by a winning light and crisp tempura batter, fried to full flavour.
The polpette are equally good. With so much meat to be eaten, the polpette di carne seemed pointless. Instead we chose bread polpette, deliciously fragrant with mint.
But most wonderful of all are giallo di Specchiolla spritto. Local heritage yellow tomatoes sautéed in olive oil with garlic and bay.
To accompany our meal we chose a bottle of Salice Salentino. Soft, fruity and inexpensive at 18€.
But skip desert…
The clue is in the name of the restaurant. The meat is undoubtedly the star. The sides spectacular. But the dolci are in the doldrums with little to commend them. The tiramisu is unremarkable. The panna cotta the last time we tried it, was heavy and over cooked. We pointed this out, having left over half of it. Surprisingly, the waiter did not seem too concerned by this.
Go on a post-dinner passeggiata and enjoy a gelato instead.
… at the Braceria it’s all about the meat
The inside is bright and airy, typically stripped back to the stone with arches. The outside terrace, cool and breezy. Perfect for dining out on hot summer evenings.
Well staffed, and plenty of space. Service is efficient and friendly.
More Menu Highlights
Other highlights for us include the straccetti do scottona. Thin strips of beef fillet, covered in seasoned breadcrumbs and flash fried. So very moreish.
3,50€ l’etto (1 etto = 100g).
It’s thought that bombette pugliesi were born more than 40 years ago in a butcher’s shop, Macelleria Romanelli, in the town of Martina Franca in the Valle d’Itria, north-west of Brindisi. Since then, it has been served throughout the south of Puglia as a popular street food at carnivals and festivals, and straight from butcher’s shops that invested in their own charcoal oven.
Today the town of Cisternino, about 25km away, is particularly famous for them. About 12 butcher’s shops have little restaurants serving bombette with rustic bread or in rolls. They have a few tables with gingham tablecloths outside, and wine often comes in terracotta carafes.
Braceria Pomodoro, Corso Vittorio Emanuele 103, Carovigno 72012 (BR) 72012 Carovigno, Puglia
+39 0831 211734
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