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Carovigno: Fantasy da Antonella (the sign says differently)

Via Giosuč, 25 (BR) , Phone: 0831.991017

Closing day: Monday

Reviewed by: Decobabe from Italy, review #2375

When: 2007

We loved it. I would not only go there again, I'd walk there. From my home.

Puglia Fantasy Carovigno, photo by Judith Greenwood

Sunday dawned bright and clear and we had a date for lunch with Jeff. In the morning we went to the ruins of a small Roman seaside city. On the way there we stopped in a little almost-closed-down beachtown with a big bakery and bought taralli. One day I plan to eat them, too.

What you might think of it depends on how many ruins you've seen and how much you like ruins. Trust me, if that archeological site were anywhere but Italy, thousands would pour into it daily. The Roman site is called Egnazia and the beachtown is Savellatri. The sad thing is that Italy is so spoiled for ruins and cute beachtowns that these two are just two more. If you are in the neighborhood, drop by and give the lonely museum girl a thrill.

After our nod to culture, we blazed up the road to Carovigno, to seek out the restaurant recommended by the farmer we talked to at the market. "Fantasy," he said, "just like a housewife cooks." We went all the way up Carovigno's hill and saw nothing. We asked. The man I asked said, "But who is the owner?" Boh! Finally we were told to go partway down the hill and we'd find it. I phoned Jeff and he saw me where I was turning and promised to follow. It was Alison who found it. "Fantasy da Begherdelli" explained why the man wanted to know the name of the owner. I guess if you are local, you know who owns what, and not necessarily what he calls it. Finally together, we were given the ONLY available table. The entire restaurant was booked for after church Sunday dinner.

As you can see from this photo, Fantasy is not a looker. It's nothing special inside, either. But what food. The instant we saw that the insiders were all ordering the antipasto, we ordered it too. I couldn't make an accurate count, but it was about 20 separate plates.

We turned down the tripe and we didn't eat the surimi. The rest was wonderful. It was so cheap that I felt guilty not ordering anything else, so I ordered grilled shrimp, Alison ordered orecchiette con rape (little ears with cooked turnip greens) and Jeff ate something.

Forgive me, it was just too much variety and too many ideas and too many flavors. We loved it. I would not only go there again, I'd walk there. From home. For all of this, wine and water, too, we paid €45 for three. We crawled away and there were people waiting for our table and we left all those Italians who ate that antipasto still eating even on to dessert. How? I have not a clue.

For me the most memorable thing was the burrata — the Puglian way with mozzarella stuffed with butter and cream. Is it worth the chance of a heart attack later? You bet.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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