This year, since Rome was infernally hot, we decided to definitely leave the day before, if only to get the hell out of town. My thinking was that we’d leave Bari about 11 on Saturday, and stop on the way somewhere for lunch. Easier said than done. Since this is southern Italy, we realized we didn’t really feel like leaving our car full of luggage unattended while we were in a restaurant.
This is where the focaccia comes into the story.
Once we decided to eat lunch in Bari, what to eat was a no-brainer. When it comes to a meal you really don’t want to cook, but do want to eat at home, the barese head to the Focacciaro. Although I’m sure there are many of these all over town, the one near Domenico’s family home is - according to most - one of the best.
So. Focaccia. What’s the difference between focaccia and pizza? Like most things in Italy, it matters where you are. One Neopolitan’s pizza may be another Roman’s focaccia. But if you happen to be in Bari, focaccia is ideally a small round of dough, rolled out thin, then very lightly topped with a few small cherry tomatoes (sometimes fresh, sometimes those ones that get hung up to dry that only exist here), olive oil, 2 or 3 black olives and a sprinkling of oregano. No cheese.
The focaccia from the Focacciaro is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s a bit chewy in the center, getting crispier out towards the edges. The crust is one of the best parts, and is crunchy and covered with a slick of olive oil and bits of caramelized tomato.
While focaccia is the speciality here, it’s not the only thing people wait in line for. Small panzarotti filled with mozzarella and tomato or else ground meat are scrumptious. As are the rustic tarts, filled with slowly cooked onions.
So, if you are in Bari, make sure you stop by here. It’s in the new part of town, just a block away from the lungomare that runs along the sea. Pick up a focaccia or two, a bag full of panzarotti and have a picnic right on the water.
Tel: 080 554 0998
Via Salvatore Cognetti 43