Masserias are the hot thing in Puglia nowadays. Some are B&B’s, some are restaurants and some are both. I knew that I couldn’t leave Salento without having an authentic Masseria experience, but I was terrified that we would get scammed into some place that had a pretty face, but no substance behind it (i.e. a B&B with a filler resto that didn’t produce any of its own ingredients on site). Thanks to my Touring Lecce app I came across Masseria Melcarne, first the word Masseria caught my eye, then Melcarne because we happen to have a friend with this surname!
Suffice it to say that we were not disappointed, on the contrary it was my best meal experience of the year! This place is so hard to find, it has to be the real deal! We navigated through dark remote roads, our only indication that it was between two towns, so we followed the road that connected the two and kept our eyes peeled for the minuscule sign bearing the venue’s name. We then proceeded to drive further inland for a good five minutes of olive groves, our headlights guiding the way. We were met with a rewarding sight: a 17th century stone edifice with a familial, cozy, candlelit courtyard teeming with other diners who had managed to find the holy grail.
It was such a romantic setting and the waitstaff were so kind with us. We kept looking around during our meal and taking in this magical, tucked away spot, very pleased that we had gotten this meal right.
At just €6 a head, the antipasti are enough to fill you up before you’ve gone on to the rest of the menu – which is what I did. My boyfriend went for a primo piatto – le chitarrine with ricotta and pancetta, they were succulent and tasty and an acceptably moderate portion size after the mammoth round of neverending appetizer dishes. The Negramaro house wine was the best red we had during the trip and the pistachio and mandarin orange spumone for dessert was not regretted! 10 out of 10. The olive oil they produce on site is also exquisite, I picked up a bottle, but now wish I would have gotten several more!