Food & Drink

REGIONAL CUISINE

The delicious regional cuisine has been influenced by Basilicata’s colourful history and cultural roots, with ingredients originating from Northern European, Spanish, French and Arabic traditions.

The region was historically poor and isolated, and this is reflected in the delicious, rustic ingredients used in their cooking. You will find fresh fish available on the coast and flavoursome home grown vegetables which flourish in the fertile volcanic soil. These traditional, honest dishes are a delight to experience during your Italian escape.

There are still strong religious connections to food in Basilicata; On Christmas Eve nine dishes are served at the table to symbolise the popular belief that Mary knocked on nine doors while seeking shelter to give birth.

RESTAURANTS

You will find a variety of restaurants and eateries across the region. From upmarket restaurants (ristorante) to the more frequently found cafes (osteria and Trattoria), eating out is one of the most memorable experiences in Basilicata. Often it is shabbier establishments, that don’t always print a menu, where you will find delicious freshly made local specialities. The local tourist office will recommend the best places for you to eat.

Children are very welcome and meal times are family events in Italy, just ask for a mezzo piatto (half plate), even if it doesn’t feature on the menu.

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WINE:

In Basilicata, grapes are cultivated in the provinces of Matera and Potenza where the hilly volcanic district around Vulture Mountain yields a grape of exceptional quality. Aglianico del Vulture (DOC)  is one of the greatest wines of Southern Italy, (try it with a hearty steak).

A more recent wine is the Terra dell’ Alta Val d’Agri which is produced in a small territory in the province of Potenza. It is best enjoyed with savoury dishes like pasta with a meat or mushroom sauce and Pecorino cheese.

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REGIONAL SPECIALITIES:

Senise peppers (IGP) are grown in a number of villages in the provinces of Matera and Potenza, including the village of Senise which gives the pepper its name. Sweet and crunchy, it has a slightly elongated form,  thin flesh, and contains very little water, making it particularly well suited to being dried and turned into powder. In powdered form the Senise pepper is often used in local cheeses and cured meats and for flavouring soups.

Lucanica sausages, the pork sausage of Basilicata (which was once known as Lucania), are made using only top quality meat, seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel seeds, or with pork fat, pepper, salt, peperoncino, and fennel seeds.

Matera bread is a famous bread of the region. The mouth-watering aroma produced by the ancient baking process fills the ‘Sassi’ of Matera.

Regional cheeses: Most of them are produced from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk. Pecorino cheese of Filiano PDO – made from whole milk of several sheep breeds. Lucanian Cacioricotta cheese – made from 80% whole goat’s milk and up to 20% cow or sheep’s milk.

Fresh pasta: Basilicata lays claim to being the first place in Italy that pasta was recorded and there are over ten different kinds of fresh pasta produced in the region, each one unique in the way it is made. The most well-known of the pastas is ‘Orecchiette’ meaning ‘little ears’ which is handmade and most often accompanies vegetable dishes. Orecchiette is joined by its bigger cousin, ‘Tapparelle’ meaning ‘big ears’ and Lucane Chiappute, a wide tagliatelle.

 

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TYPICAL DISHES OF BASILICATA:

  • PUPAZZELLA: small round hot peppers in vinegar stuffed with anchovies and parsley.
  • PASTA WITH LU’NTRUPPC: pasta in a tasty sauce made with meat and sausage.
  • CALZONE DI VERDURA: baked pizza dough folded over a filling of chard, peppers and raisins.
  • CIAMMOTTA: fried aubergine, peppers and potatoes stewed with tomatoes.
  • CIAUDEDDA: braised artichokes stuffed with potatoes, onions, fava beans and salted pork.
  • COTECHINATA: pork rind rolled around a filling of salted pork, garlic and peppers, stewed in tomato sauce.
  • FOCACCIA A BRAZZUDO: flatbread with pork crackling, lard and oregano.
  • GRANO AL RAGÙ: wheat grains boiled and served with a rich ragout made of sausage and salted pork, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and white wine, topped with grated pecorino.
  • GRANO DOLCE: a pudding made of wheat grains, blended with chocolate, walnuts, pomegranate seeds and vin cotto (sweet “cooked wine”).
  • PEPERONATA CON CARNE DI PORCO: pepper and tomato stew with various pieces of pork.
  • PIGNATA DI PECORA: ewe cooked with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, pork and pecorino in a clay pot called a pignata.
  • POLLO ALLA POTENTINA: chicken braised in wine with onion, tomato, peppers and basil.
  • SCARCEDDA: Easter tart with ricotta and hard-boiled eggs.
  • SPEZZATINO DI AGNELLO: lamb stewed in an earthenware pot with potatoes, onions, bay leaf and peppers.
  • TORTA DI LATTICINI: cheesecake based on ricotta, mozzarella and pecorino with pieces of prosciutto.
  • ZUPPA DI PESCE ALLA SANTAVENERE: soup containing grouper, scorpion fish and other Ionian seafood with plenty of garlic and pepper.
  • ORECCHIETTE CON SALSA PICCANTE: ear-like pasta dressed with tomato sauce and the typical spicy salami from Basilicata. It can be made hotter according to your taste.
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