Gourmet oasis in the land of the Primitivo. Casamatta restaurant is housed inside the restaurant Vinilia Wine Resort of Manduria, Pugliese led by chef Peter Pen, with the advice of Valeria Piccini (two stars in the Michelin guide restaurant Cain Montemerano, in Tuscany). Flanked by a team of young, well prepared and rehearsed, in the kitchen and in the living room, Peter Pen is giving to this corner of Puglia (I told my TRAVEL ITINERARY MANDURIA ON WINE AND PRIMITIVE) an important added value in gastronomic terms.
The proposal Casamatta restaurant in Manduria is a kitchen that, although truthfully Puglia, It has the technology and the elegance that was missing in this area. The price? Surely supported than the average of the local restaurants, but absolutely balanced looking to the quality of the proposal and the beauty of the place. Casamatta restaurant was awarded a Michelin star in November of 2019.
Located on the ground floor of a castle from the early twentieth century, owned by the family Lacaita, who has completely renovated, making it a wine resort with 15 rooms, the Casamatta boasts an organic garden, which provides much of the raw material used in the restaurant. In the forty hectares of land around the property, They are produced from 2015 organic wines under the brand Trullo Pezza.
The environment of the restaurant is bright Casamatta, with large windows that overlook the garden. The local, which is accessed by passing through the large lobby and lounge area of the resort Vinilia, It is furnished in an eclectic way, with antiques and design, up to ultramodern elements of style and northern European taste.
On the ceiling, traditional Apulian lights fifties, Also present in the garden; in winter, a big craftsmanship in iron fireplace warms the dining room. Alongside you can see the large, modern kitchen, and the tasting area, with wine bar, where cocktails are served, from aperitifs to after dinner, both classic and creative, but also spirits and soft drinks.
Chef Pietro Penna
Peter Pen looks back on important international experiences, like the one at the Four Seasons George V, restaurant two stars in the Michelin guide to Paris. The chef has worked with Sergio Mei and was the first Italian chef to work at Le Cinq Eric Briffard. To process the Casamatta menu, The Marika and Simona Lacaita sisters called Valeria Piccini.
Together, The Pen chef and Piccini chose suppliers, with a particular attention to the fully biological productions. The challenge is to make a gourmet kitchen, Based on local products, deeply tied to tradition, but with a breath and an international cutting.
The room service is quick, polite and precise. On the table, He comes first the bread basket, served hot: sourdough, Puglia flour including bran Senatore Cappelli, excellent typical Apulian focaccia with tomatoes. All it accompanied by an Apulian oil produced under the brand “Trullo Pezza” and obtained from three local cultivars: pesciolina, Coratina and Nocellara.
Among the proposals, a convenient menu tasting 5 course 56 € (76 € with matching wines), while the 7-course chef freehand costs 70 euro, rising to € 100 with wine pairings. While we order, comes the chef's welcome: blanched cabbage stuffed with amazing Apulian and soft ricotta cheese and served with grated bottarga to give flavor to the dish.
To the paper, There are 5 starters (14-24 euro), 5/1 plates (14-18 euro), 5/2 (20-24 euro) on a journey of meat and fish. Before starting your journey through the Apulian cuisine signed Peter Pen, comes another chef's welcome: skewers of fried anchovies wrapped in phyllo dough.
Simply good revisiting the very traditional fava beans and chicory: dry beans in cream are combined with wild herbs and chicory, turnip greens and tomato confit. A dish rich in bitter notes and chlorophyll, well balanced by the presence of crispy pork rind and the pleasant extra virgin olive oil roundness of. Among the starters, the interesting fish dishes such as marinated octopus with stracciatella, chicory and olives and blue fish with cabbage, aubergine caviar and ginger.
Tender but not exhausted the beaten heifer Murge, matured for three months, accompanied by puree and pumpkin flan, shoots and red beets. The sweet note of the flesh, Pumpkin and beet has unbalanced the dish towards the sweetness: a savory ingredient would surely rebalanced. Here too, one of the protagonists of the dish an excellent extra virgin olive oil.
The first courses
The memory of the traditional sauce brasciole comes with buttons pasta stuffed with meat stew with tomato sauce, immersed in a canestrato cheese broth (slightly too fat). The dish is a tribute to the Apulian peasants Sunday and lunches and, with my eyes closed, the similarity there. In paper also the pasta tubes with garlic oil, Chili, turnip greens and white shrimp, commendably, a risotto with citrus, squid and capers. He could not miss one of the symbols of Puglia: The burnt wheat noodles with cauliflower, bread and anchovies.
The main courses
The best dish of the evening was definitely the second: lamb composition with its bottom, chestnuts, cardoncelli mushrooms and arugula. The lamb is served in three parts: costina, gnummariedd and pulp. Creamy sauce, tasty at the right point, the perfect lamb cooking, with pink flesh and juicy. the gnummariedd (roulade of lamb entrails) flavorful and intense flavor. For those who prefer fish, in the menu there are also red mullet, of rock broth, purple wild onions and potatoes or baked sea bass and raw in crazy water with cottage cheese and radishes.
The wine list
To accompany dinner, The wines from the vineyards of Trullo Pezza, but not only: welcome with a DOCG Franciacorta Annamaria Clementi Ca was served’ del Bosco. At Casamatta, The wine list is primarily aims to offer a very wide selection of Primitive of Manduria. The declared goal of the owners is to make the wine resort Vinilia “the home of Primitivo di Manduria”, widening as much as possible the range of labels inserted in paper. In addition to the local wines, you can choose from the most important Italian denominations and even travel abroad, with white from Germany, Slovenia, Israel, New Zeland, French rosé and red from United States, Georgia, Armenia.
Predessert in the wake of acidity with white chocolate ice cream and yoghurt with gratings mandarins and crumble shortbread, Perfect to clean the mouth from the taste of the lamb.
Among the desserts, interesting is the composition of bread, oil, Chocolate and mandarin: a chocolate biscuit served, as in a painter's palette, with almond cream, of chocolate, mandarin, nuts and olive oil. All the sweets in paper cost 10 euro.
Very cool variation of lemons with a mousse and a lemon mousse, crumble pastry and dried fruit, basil and melon pralines. The Casamatta restaurant is definitely a restaurant to try: we believe that the creativity of Peter Pen, in Puglia wanted to come back to give his contribution to the restoration of the Ionian side of Salento, will come more and more interesting dishes. Puglia has the credentials to make a high quality restaurant, given the large local commodities, and Pen has all it takes to be among his best interpreters.
(visited in January 2018)