Trattoria al Gambero, Porto Cesareo (LE)
One of my favorite things about living in Italy is the close proximity from one town to the next. We would take fantastic one day trips in Lazio, Abruzzo and Umbria when we were living in Rome and we are now living in a part of Italy that neither of us know and that both of us are eager to discover. We have a whole region to explore, not to mention visiting old haunts of mine in Basilicata. We are lucky in that our daughter doesn’t mind the car, she put up with 18 hours over a three day period just a few weeks ago to visit her grandparents in Liguria. She is happy to put up with an hour or two, especially if she gets to go to the beach. Born in South Carolina, now being raised in Puglia, this child has salt water and sand in her veins.
We have not let the bad weather stop us from getting out on the weekends. We visited Porto Cesario, a town on the Ionian Sea, south of Taranto a few weekends ago. We drove down the litoriale, the coastal road that runs along the sea. It is the perfect time of year for a drive on the coast. The sea in Italy is dotted with ghost towns during the winter, all of the houses are vacation homes and abandoned until the summer months. Come July and August it will be impossible to drive down these roads without sitting in traffic for hours.
We had heard about one restaurant in Porto Cesario, but after driving past it, we decided that it was too fancy. We’ve been doing fancy everyday and just wanted good fresh fish and no frills. We went to a restaurant called Il Gambero right on the water, liking the look of it and trusting our instincts, my husband’s instincts on choosing a restaurant are finely tuned, we decided to have our lunch there. The service was refreshingly aloof and the fish was remarkably fresh. We started out with an antipasto of mussels al gratin, stuffed with breadcrumbs and herbs, and a plate of marinated anchovies, which I absolutely love. We decided to skip the pasta course and went directly for the fish. The waiter brought out a plate of fresh raw fish for us to choose from. We shared a swordfish steak, an enormous calamaro and a sarago, which is a bream-like fish and one of my husband’s favorites. The fish was all grilled to perfection, so fresh and so simple. It is one of the great pleasures of living in Italy again, this is how food should always be.
Two Years Ago: Herb Egg Salad
Three Years Ago: Farfalle with Portobello Mushrooms