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Ostuni: Osteria del Tempo Perso

Via G. Tanzarella Vitale, 47 , Phone: 0831.303320

Reviewed by: Decobabe from Italy, review #2373

When: 2007

Nothing outstanding. Don't bother.

Ostuni is built in spirals climbing to the peak of a hill, the peak being the old city, the rest not being exactly new, either. From the peak you can look out over the flat area to the sea. Like most of Puglia, the flat area is planted to olives for their famous oil.

Warmed and fed, we set off to see the ancient part of town. Jonathan, the friend who lent us the house, had said his favorite restaurant was up there. And so, we wended our way through the twisting streets to the top and the cathedral piazza. By the time we made it to the piazza, the wind had turned my umbrella into pickup sticks. My souvenir of Ostuni is a €3 umbrella that resembles, slightly, stained glass. I felt lucky to find it, because as we passed through town, just the week leading to the big tourist season kickoff that is Easter, everything was closed. From museums to handbag shops, chiuso. Not a sign as to when they might open, just "chiuso" - closed. Jonathan's fave restaurant was even more chiuso, because it is being renovated and is pretty much a shell of whatever it might once have been.

We'd seen signs for a restaurant that was in the guidebooks, though, so we followed them. The name is Osteria del Tempo Perso, or the Inn of the Lost Time. The pathway sketchily traced with its signs should be called the way of the lost tourist. We found it easily another time, but following the signs took us the longest way around that could be devised without actually leaving Ostuni. I tend to favor restaurants with flowers, however, and Temp Perso certainly has them.

There were nice smells emitted, too. We returned there when lunchtime rolled around.

Temp Perso is trying to be a top-flight restaurant, which would justify the prices, I guess. Have a look at the website, where they show a small list of their specialties. The menu is a bit longer than that list. The funny thing is that other than an exceptional amuse bouche, served to us as soon as we'd ordered, I remember almost nothing else but the bread. The little bowl we were served was a puree of dried favas topped with slivers of fried Italian peppers, called frigitelli. It was a mating made in heaven. I wish I'd ordered it from the menu, because everything else we ordered is just a blur—nothing special. Our main course was grilled suckling pig, and the texture struck us both as strange and a bit unpleasant. The extraordinary thing about Tempo Perso is that you have to go outside, down the stairs, a few feet up the sidewalk, up some more stairs and inside again to use the bathroom. It was also warm in the restaurant, and we were grateful for that, too. Another extraordinary thing is that the main course, which we shared, cost just short of what our entire meal the night before cost. €24 versus €26.50

Horse and asina (donkey girl) figured large on the menu. Our bill for two pastas, water, wine and one shared main course was €64.

I explained I would be writing a review and would like to have a menu, and the waiter handed me a folder. When we reached home I discovered that he'd given me a framable print of the front of the restaurant. No menu. Nothing outstanding. Don't bother.

Reviewed by: Jonathan from UK, review #1163

When: 2004

Ostuni's one entry in Slow Food's Osterie d'Italia. Good local specialities, nice decor.

Directions: In centro storico; sign-posted from via Cattedrale.

Attractive, cave-like room, with an impressive central column and table festooned with fruit and vegetables. P & I decided to pass on the antipasti, so primi: Sagne incannulate con melanzane e scamorza (rather like little cannelloni: the smoked cheese/aubergine mix is excellent); cavatelli con ceci & pomodori (a bit like pasta & fagioli in its soup-like consistency). Secondi: carrè d’agnello al forno (for 2 persons), served with patate arroste & insalata. Lovely, tender, pink rack chops. Dolci: a ricotta & almond torta, and a fruit & cream one. 2 coffees, and a Primitivo di Manduria from a hugely long wine list. Total: €70

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

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