There’s a Tavern on the port of Tricase

The Coppola brothers run a lovely osteria salentina cum pizzeria and fishmonger on the Adriatic sea

18-08-2017

A detail of Taverna del porto in Tricase Porto, Salento. A table perfect for waiting for a latecomer. Or if you’re the one who’s early

 

Taverna del porto, note this down. This recommendation will come useful especially if you’re on holiday in that extreme portion of Salento, after Maglie and, of course, before Leuca. Or in the future, during your first visit to this magical, dreamy land.

The tavern, cum pizzeria and fishmonger, belongs to the Coppola brothers, Alessandro in the kitchen and Pierluigi in the dining room. Their father, Mario, was for many years a fisherman. As for the port, it’s Tricase Porto, the seaside area of Tricase, on the Adriatic Sea. These days it’s very crowded but with a little patience everything will go well.

A tip: as soon as you’re driving close to the pier and the basin protected by the dam, very nice and cozy, park the car in the first available space. A short walk will only do you good. Leave the hill and the beautiful and central villas behind you. The tavern is to the south, towards Marina Serra, on the right. In front, there’s the seaside road, a pavement, rocks, sea, sky.

A dish of raw fish at Taverna del porto

A dish of raw fish at Taverna del porto

It’s a small, isolated house on two floors. The outside is entirely white. Indoors, there’s lots of sky blue. You can have lunch or dinner on the ground floor. It reminds you of a Greek tavern, also thanks to some posters on the walls and the spirit of those serving you. Having lived there for countless years, the Coppolas first entered the place in 2014. After a trial stage and renovations in the winter, everything was nice and ready in the summer of 2016.

The menu says «cucina marinara» [seafood cuisine]. The fish is caught locally. The dough, for bread and pizza, leavens for a day and a half at least, using mother yeast. Tradition dominates, but it’s not a blinkering dogma. Less than twenty pizzas, twelve classics, from Marinara for 3.50 euros to Frutti di mare for 10, plus five so called daily specials for 9.50. Elsewhere, they would have called them gourmet pizzas, a term now pointlessly used far too often, just to surprise with absurd pairings, detached from any context. In this case, instead, the pizza with mozzarella and sea urchins draws its strength from the sea urchins scattered on the surrounding rocks and seabeds.

Spaghettoni with sea urchins

Spaghettoni with sea urchins

Then there’s the kitchen. You have a choice of first and main courses, but not of starters. These are a meal within the meal, and every small dish served is never banal: oyster, sea urchins, prawns, mussels, smooth clams, scampi, a rainbow of raw seafood. Then there’s mackerel with cream of peas and tomato confit; octopus, friggitelli and ricotta; fried salted cod, beetroot and herbs; aubergine rolls; seafood panini…

The facade of Taverna del porto owned by brothers, Alessandro and Pierluigi Coppola

The facade of Taverna del porto owned by brothers, Alessandro and Pierluigi Coppola

And then mussel and clam soup; granfritto di paranza as well as fried blue-tailed and boneless fish, that is to say squid and prawns; first courses include linguine garlic, oil, chilli pepper and fish of the day to give extra aroma, rigatoni with cherry tomatoes and angelfish or linguine with crab, followed by grilled swordfish, fish kebab, crispy octopus and the classic sweet pair: lemon sorbet or spumone?
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Taverna del porto
Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo 121
Tricase Porto (Lecce)
Tel.: +39.0833.775336
Website: tavernadelporto.com
E-mail: info@tavernadelporto.com
Closed: never, open daily in the summer for lunch and supper
Average prices: the great seafood starter is 15 euros; fried fish and first courses 13; grilled fish is 14; desserts 3.50.
Service charge: 1.50 euros


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Restaurants from all the world told in Il Giornale by Paolo Marchi from February 1994 to the winter of 2011. And since the spring, for the readers identitagolose.it