After driving Basilicata’s Ionian coast from Metaponto to Policoro, my dad and I visited Policoro’s Archeological Museum, one of the best in southern Italy, stocked with loads of jewelry from 8th century BCE tombs. We hiked around the ruins of Heraklea behind the museum for a while then headed to downtown Policoro for lunch. I had heard about a place called Pitty owned by Tonino Chiarmonte so we headed there, prepared for a huge fish meal. We got so much more.
The antipasto misto di mare was of Basilicatan proportions. We easily could have made a meal out of the dishes Tonino brought out in intervals, like neonati crudi al peperoncino (tiny raw fish with hot pepper and oil), frittata di seppie (cuttlefish omelette), cozze fritte (batter fried mussels), spiedini di calamari (cornmeal covered squid on skewers), gamberi e rucola (steamed shrimp on a bed of arugula), insalata di polipo (squid salad), and fritelle di neonati (fried fish patties).
We drank an IGT Puglia Chardonnay but Tonino brought us prosecco, too, pouring a glass of each for himself which he downed in single gulps before heading into the kitchen. He emerged minutes later with pasta con le cozze (pasta with mussels), helping himself to more Chardonnay from an empty glass he had left on our table. While we are our pasta, he must had 6 glasses of wine that he poured himself from the bottles of all the restaurants’ patrons. Yet he didn’t falter or mix up an order. Clearly a pro!
While we waited for our second course, Tonino brought us two unsolicited bottles of wine, a Primitivo di Manduria (aka red zinfandel) form across the border in Puglia, and a rose’ from Salento (southern Puglia) called Five Roses. Not exactly the best pairing for the seppie alla piastra (pan seared cuttlefish) and spigola alla brace (grilled bass) but I certainly wasn’t going to argue with Tonino!
Piazza Dante 7-9