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Già Sotto l'Arco, Carovigno

71 Corso Vittorio Emanulele
Tel: 39 083 199 6286's insider take:

It used to be a humble osteria situated under the old arch ("sotto l'arco"), but the third generation of the Buongiorno family, led by chef Teresa, has moved up in the world, in more ways than one. Now on the second floor of an 18th-century palazzo in the center of this delightfully laid-back southern town, Già Sotto l'Arco is considered by many to be Puglia's best restaurant. The decor feels neo-Bourbon (that's the royals, not the drink), with shiny old leather-upholstered chairs and glossy pastel doors being set off by the uniform white walls and ceilings of this elegant arched dining room. But the welcome is warm and the good vibes continue on the plate, with seasonal dishes rooted in the territory. An autumn selection might include bucatini with ricotta and wild fennel on a sauce of bitter tomatoes, or seared lamb chops with caponatina (a local variation on the classic Sicilian vegetable casserole) and roast eggplant. The cuisine is surprisingly simple but spot-on—this is the kind of unfussy high-class joint that even those allergic to high-class joints will enjoy.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.