Stingone’s interpretations of pizza Margherita at I Gastronauti, Lucera

In Lucera, in Apulia, a high quality place. The self-trained owner presents as many as 11 variations on the "queen of pizzas”

Sabino Stingone in front of the oven in his pizze

Sabino Stingone in front of the oven in his pizzeria I Gastronauti in Lucera, via Garibaldi 103, tel. +39 389 1750994. Photo by Luciana Squadrilli

In order to eat good pizza in Apulia, you don’t necessarily need to reach the very point of the heel. Among the good reasons for a stop – perhaps when you’re driving to the Caribbean-style beaches of Salento – Lucera, the ancient capital of the Daunia region, and a customhouse for transhumance, offers some excellent pizzas from Sabino Stingone.

Born in 1989, self-trained, he became a pizzaiolo at a young age, to save some money, and was gradually charmed by dough and fermentation. Today he offers his pizzas – and some nice platters of charcuterie and cheese from Daunia – in the narrow yet cosy rooms of I Gastronauti, his pizzeria in Via Garibaldi 103, tel. +39 389 1750994.

The dough is of the “evolved Neapolitan” kind, extremely light – though the dough weighs 300 grams, you can eat his pizzas very easily – with a large and airy edge, but without exaggerating, made from poolish and 00 flour, with a hydration that ranges between 75 and 85% depending on the climate.

There’s very little salt, and almost only local products – starting from tomatoes, dairy products and extra virgin olive oil only added after the baking – for the toppings, well thought over without seeking sensationalism. And while there’s place even for Mortazza – with fior di latte, mortadella di Bologna, basil, chopped pistachios, grated Parmigiano and extra virgin olive oil – the forte of the menu is the section dedicated to “La Margherita e le sue sorelle”, literally, Margherita and her sisters11 variations on the theme with an intelligent and intriguing use of tomatoes from Daunia – produced by organic farm Paglione, which also makes the extra virgin olive oil and many of the wines in the list – and local dairy products.

Pizza Prunill. Photo by Luciana Squadrilli

Pizza Prunill. Photo by Luciana Squadrilli

From the Classica to the delicious Prunill – with the intense tomato purée from the same local variety of tomatoes in contrast with the sweetness of the yellow tomatoes, basil, grated pecorino canestrato pugliese, and extra virgin olive oil – to the Margherita Pugliese with stracciatella, grated parmigiano, basil, extra virgin olive oil and semi-dry tomato (left to slowly whither in the sun, until it becomes meaty and concentrated): they’re all worth trying.

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Luciana Squadrilli

a journalist born in Naples now living in Rome, she tries to make her three passions meet: eating, travelling and writing

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