With good places things fall into place in a way that you just know it. On our second visit to Al Trabucco da Mimì that first reassuring sign comes as we snake down the steep and winding track. The landscape is spectacular in palettes of green and blue, the expanse of azure opening up the closer we get. Trabucco is a place that belongs to the nature surrounding it.
In a little over 2 years ago the approach to the trabucco structure has changed. There is a bigger bar area offering early lunchtime service and aperitivo dining. Sophistically styled using unsophisticated, organic decor. A symbiotic shambles of fishing paraphernalia simply thrown together, or a clever and carefully curated design? Other than the serendipity of the location, we suspect that nothing here is achieved by accident.
The bar area has a multitude of terraces and seating, facing west, out over the Adriatic and towards the sunset. Later we are told by our waiter that when the sun sets, the crowd bursts into applause. Just as Trabucco has become one of Gargano’s must visit destinations, aperitivo hour at Trabucco is another of its bucket list experiences.
The restaurant area feels larger with a new glass wall separating the inside seating area from the outside covered terraces. On the terrace the tables are now set back from the edge.
This is a happy place to be. At the water’s edge with the view of the hilltop houses on the other side of Peschici, or out over the Adriatic to Croatia. On a warm summer’s day, as most of them are, dappled sunlight filters through from above. The cool and shaded terrace, driftwood and naked rafters, sparkles with sunlight bouncing off the sea that surrounds it.
After our last visit we wrote that Trabucco was our top #EatPuglia experience. With two more years’ eating experience around Puglia since our last visit, we still haven’t found a location that beats eating here.
But it’s not just about the location. Here you will eat well, enjoying some of the freshest catch of the day. This is still a working trabucco. While we were eating lunch we watched dinner being caught by Carlo Ottaviano (son of original owner Mimì after whom the restaurant is named) using the trabucco nets, before being taken by the chefs, his twin sons Domenico and Vincenzo, to the kitchen. A bucketful of bluefish, a typical trabucco catch.
Not all of the fish and seafood is landed by the trabucco. In high season there are fewer fish to be caught and more diners. Seasonality demands that some seafood can only be be sourced from elsewhere, and in August the frozen cuttlefish is the best available.
The food is contemporary Italian cuisine and, on the whole, thankfully unfussy. There are unusual combinations, for example lagane pasta with mullet ragù, and East Asian influences. The Aleppo pine cake, a signature house desert and tribute to Gargano’s landscape, is a creamy pine cone shaped dessert made with an infusion of Aleppo pine seeds, almonds, cocoa, matcha tea powder and soy.
Selezione di carpaccio, seppioline, gamberi crudi, erbe di scoglio e limone | Raw carpaccio, cuttlefish and raw prawns and greens
Merluzzo mantecato, salsa pil pil, lampascioni e sedano | Creamed white fish, pil pil sauce and lampascioni
Fusilloni, polpa di granchio, birra e arancia | Fusilloni with crab, beer & orange
Riso, arrosto di cefalo, mosto e foglie di fico | Fried rice, roasted mullet fish, figs syrup & leaves
Polpo fritto, percoca acidula, salsa al primitivo | Deep fried octopus, sour peach & red wine
Seppia sporca, bietola, stracciatella | Inked cuttle fish, chard and stracciatella
Semifreddo all'elicriso, meringa al caffè + cocktail paradiso | Helichrysium Semifreddo, meringue & paradiso coffee cocktail
What we thought
Trabucco is still our favorite #EatPuglia dining experience. The atmosphere at Trabucco is warm and welcoming. The young team provide an informal and attentive service. Food is excellent, the menu interesting and the cost, albeit on the higher side of our dining experiences, is merited.
You can eat just as well elsewhere in Puglia and for less cost, but Trabucco’s location is second to none. It is still the best Puglia destination we have eaten at.
We selected the 7-dish fixed menu, a selection of dishes from the à la carte menu rather than a tasting one. This saved us from making difficult decisions on which dishes to choose. On the downside perhaps there were too many dishes to keep our attention and appreciate them all.
The fusilloni was delicious, rich and buttery complimenting the crab. The beer foam added little. Was it an unnecessary flourish to remind us of the sea? The added bitterness, even if intended to cut through the creamy richness of the pasta, was a distraction.
The desert didn’t excite us. We only knew that it was semifreddo because the menu told us. The meringue was too dry an accompaniment. Were we meant to drown it with the cold coffee cocktail (to our taste, a chilled version of Polignano a Mare’s special coffee), affogato style? We should have ordered the signature pine cone desert!
The Aleppo pine cake Photo © del Trabucco da Mimì
Aperitivo Bar Menu
Al Trabucco da Mimì is a dining destination. People make trips to Gargano especially to eat here. No trip to Gargano would be complete without that experience.
We recommend two visits. One for lunch and another to watch the spectacular sunset from the bar over the Adriatic. We recommend booking, although the week before our visit, friends who had phoned the day before to be told the restaurant was full, turned up after 1.30pm and were found a table for two.
N.41°56'51'' - E.16°01'50''
Loc. Punta San Nicola - Peschici (FG)
More | our guide to Vieste and Gargano | read about our first visit to Trabucco | You’ve got to eat here - our curated guide to Puglia’s best bars and restaurants | Al Trabucco da Mimì restaurant website.