Puglia is a traditionally agricultural region in the sun-soaked proverbial “heel” of the Italian boot, a mecca for homegrown Italian cuisine. Puglia is a traveler’s dream for authentic cuisine, producing more wine than any other Italian region and around 40% of Italy’s olive oil. 

With its fertile soil, lush land, and mild climate, the foods and wines of Puglia are exceptionally local, meaning as fresh and flavorful as it gets! In addition to agriculture, the region is nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea, with a long stretch of coastline, making daily-caught seafood readily available year-round. 

From pasta orecchiette to locally produced olive oil to Primitivo wine, the Most Famous Food and Wine in Puglia, Italy has something to enjoy for beginner foodies and serious aficionados alike. In this guide, we’ll recommend our must-try local favorites of Italy’s “bread basket.” 

most famous food puglia italy pasta

Pasta Orecchiette

When Italians think of Puglia, they think of pasta orecchiette, the small, ear-shaped pasta that has been a cultural staple for decades. Originating from the Puglian town of Bari, these tiny pasta delights are often handmade by local nonnas, creating a unique texture that pairs perfectly with a variety of sauces. This pasta is made by rolling your thumb like a fingerprint onto flattened dough. 

The classic pairing is with broccoli rabe and sausage, but can also simply be paired with olive oil and garlic. Orecchiette can also be paired with pancetta, ricotta, and ham for a creamier variety. 

There’s even a festival to celebrate orecchiette called Sagre delle Orecchiette that takes place in Savignano Irpino every August, where you can taste over one thousand dishes featuring the famed pasta!

most famous cheese puglia italy food burrata cheese

Burrata Cheese

No culinary journey through Puglia would be complete without indulging in the creamy decadence of burrata cheese. The Most Famous cheese in Puglia, Burrata originated in the city of Andria and dates back to around 1920 on the Bianchini family farm, where it was created to preserve cheese for transport to the market. “Burrata” translates to “buttery” or “buttered.” 

With a smooth-looking shell, the center is filled with pulled mozzarella (Stracciatella) and cream. The cheese pouch is wrapped in asphodel leaves and tied in a topknot. Served fresh, this gastronomic delight practically melts in your mouth. Paired with ripened sun-dried tomatoes and fresh olive oil, this dish is a symphony of flavors that encapsulate the essence of Puglia. 

Although burrata cheese is now commercially produced, the original Burrata di Andria is a registered protected geographical indication in the EU, meaning that all operations in the production of the product must take place in Puglia. 

That’s why there’s no better place to taste and try Burrata on your Italy trip! When you join us in Puglia you’ll get to discover all of Puglia’s most famous cheeses with a visit to the production of a multigenerational zero-km cheese producer in the heart of Puglia’s Valle d’Itria. 

A farm-to-table experience that will take you from visiting the cows in the stalls, how they collect the milk to the aging of the cheese and get to experience (and when try for yourself) how handmade Burrata and mozzarella cheese is actually realized.  You’ll get to taste burrata as fresh as it gets and enjoy a pairing of local charcuterie and wine to top it off.

Ready to join us in Puglia next year? Click here to get the details for the 8 day Passport to Puglia tour!

most famous wine puglia italy primitivo wine

Primitivo Wine

The grapes that grow in Puglia thrive in the heat and pounding sunlight of Southern Italy’s climate, making Primitivo wine one of the region’s crown jewels. Primitivo is an internationally acclaimed red wine grape for its notes of dark fruit, spice, and a hint of smokiness. Often compared to California’s Zinfandel, Primitivo is the perfect companion to a hearty Puglian dish or aged cheese. 

Fun fact: Zinfandel is a clone of Primitivo which was brought over from Croatia approximately 2,000 years ago.

Primitivo” means “early one” in Italian, referencing the grape’s tendency to ripen relatively early in the season. The distinctive flavor of Primitivo is hard won, with some farmers referring to it as “Mirr Test” or “hard wine.” The flavor ultimately depends on climate conditions and the aging of the wine. While some producers aim for a fruity, “sunshine in a bottle” taste with a young, accessible wine, others age their Primitivo for a more sophisticated, savory taste. 

Are you a wine lover wondering about the best time to visit Italy? Read more HERE on how to escape the crowds and experience Italy’s winemaking legacy, including some of the most famous wines in Puglia, Italy. 

puglia italy olive oil famous food

Olive Oil

In Puglia, olive oil isn’t just an ingredient – it’s a way of life! Thanks to its favorable climate conditions, Puglia is renowned for producing some of the world’s best olive oils. Characterized for its robust flavor and fruity notes, trying this culinary treasure should be at the top of your list for your visit to Puglia. 

Olive varieties such as coratina and ogliarola give the olive oil out of Puglia its distinct taste profile, making it the base and the finisher of many traditional Puglian dishes. While it is popular in salads, sauces, and grilling fish or meats, Puglian olive oil is often served with a slice of fresh bread. When you taste fresh olive oil from Puglia, you’ll see why it’s called “liquid gold.” 

The region is also home to the Strade dell’olio or the Olive Oil Road. Visitors can travel along this route to see the paths that once connected the ancient olive oil production farms, with some still active today! Some out-of-use farms have been turned into museums and include a personally guided tour, where you can see and learn about the ancient tools of olive oil production. 

Learn more about olive oil in Italy HERE!

most famous vegetarian food puglia italy

Purea di Fave

Fava beans hold a special place in the Puglian heart, and Purea di Fava is a testament to their cultural significance. This simple yet flavorful puree is made from dried fava beans, olive oil, and a hint of garlic. The dish is known as part of the cucina povera, or poverty food tradition, of Southern Italy. Modern variations make the dish rich in flavor and are a delicious representation of the region’s commitment to locally sourced ingredients. 

Fun fact: Purea di Fave is typically cooked in terracotta dishes.

most famous pastry puglia italy food

Pasticciotto

Don’t forget dessert! Pasticciotto is the pastry lover’s dream come true, with a golden, flaky crust cradling a rich, velvety cream. This famous food of Puglia, name comes from the dish’s creator, Andrea Ascalone, who named his creation a “mishap” after using leftover ingredients from full-sized tortas. 

Pasticciotto is a cultural Pugliese icon, with locals enjoying the pastry with morning coffee, as an afternoon treat, or at family celebrations. Many Puglian bakers now put their own spin on the dish, adding chocolate or fruits to the custard to enhance the flavor even more. 

famous fish dish puglia italy food

Frittura di Paranza

Imagine a platter adorned with small, freshly caught fish, all delicately coated in a light, golden batter and fried to crispy perfection – this is exactly what you’ll get in a Frittura di Paranza

Paranza refers to a traditional fishing boat, paying homage to the small, diverse catches brought in on the coasts of Puglia. The dish is a popular choice in seaside trattorias and Puglian family gatherings, composed of sardines, anchovies, squid, and shrimp and served with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkle of sea salt. The dish embodies the spirit of communal dining, encouraging sharing amongst friends and lively conversation. 

negroamaro famous wine puglia italy

Negroamaro

Negromaro is another famous wine from Puglia that serves as a testament to the region’s top-quality wine production. The name negroamaro means “black bitter” in Italian, and the wine earns that name with its intense color, ranging from a deep ruby to an inky purple. Notes of black cherry, plum, and a hint of spiciness accompany the dark fruit flavor. 

Fun fact: Negroamaro is one of the Oldest Grapes in Italy that was originally brought over during Ancient Greek times.

Iconic negroamaro wine labels such as Salice Salentino and Negroamaro del Salento are world-renowned for their distinctive flavors. A sip of negroamaro isn’t just a sip of wine – it’s a sip of the essence of Puglia’s rich history and winemaking legacy. 

One that you can taste when you join us on tour to experience carefully selected and curated tasting menus and wine tastings through your trip to Puglia with us!

If you’re planning a trip to Italy, the best way to travel is with a local guide who can share the country’s best-kept secrets outside of what is popular amongst tourists. Puglia is a growing region with many hidden gems to explore, but finding them on your own can feel overwhelming especially when you don’t know the inside and outs of the local culture.

Start planning today with your FREE Italy Travel Guide! 

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