Pulia restaurant in London’s iconic Borough Market was founded in 2012, with the mission of bringing Apulian culinary traditions to the world. This is one of two restaurants, the other in Brindisi, and they also sell products from Puglia including olive oils, wines, cured meats, and cheeses. The region is known for its Mediterranean climate and the quality and authenticity of its food. It also produces around 40 per cent of Italy’s olive oil.
The restaurant is a contemporary light and airy space with decor from Southern Italy. Olivewood table tops and earthenware pots, sprouting shoots of wheat lining the window add to the Mediterranean vibe. A long bar, shelves stacked with wines, olive oils and balsamic vinegar, fills one wall. Mercifully the music is kept low, quiet enough for conversation.
Food & Drink
There’s an extensive range of cocktails but we opt for Negronis when we arrive. The short wine list has vintages from the region and their white Pulia Altea Falanghina makes a perfect match for our meal with its crisp, mineral and citrus notes.
We start our meal with Verdure Sott’olio e Focaccia Pugliese – it’s a selection of marinated seasonal Vegetables in their own olive oil and includes sun-dried tomatoes and aubergine strips. Add in some slices of toasted Focaccia and heaps of rocket and suddenly you forget you’re in gloomy winter London.
Next we get Burrata al Tartufo con Capocollo. The cheese is fresh, cool and creamy, the truffle complementing rather than overwhelming. The Capocollo ham comes from wild pigs feeding on acorns, an Italian equivalent of Iberico and very good it is too.
Now for the casual diner, these two starters would be filling enough but we’re on a roll so select a pasta to share. This is an airy and light Lasagne with Pecorino, Basil, Mushrooms and Mozzarella, ideal for vegetarians. Rather than a weighty block, it seems to float on the plate and, I have to say, glides easily into our mouths. It’s not an extra-large portion so easily manageable as a pasta course.
So to the mains and the meat dishes mostly come from Southern Italian Podolica cattle, a special breed capable of surviving on harsh terrain and poor pasture. You might think that doesn’t bode well for taste, but in fact Cotoletta alla Pugliese turns out to be a juicy breaded slice of veal. It’s a huge portion, almost enough for three to share, and the crunchy outside is a perfect match for the rare meat inside.
The Tubante di Orata con Verdure is the opposite, small but perfectly formed. It’s pieces of sea bream with lightly steamed vegetables, wrapped turban style, and served with a sweet carrot sauce. Delicate and savoury, tasty rather than filling, it works well before the meat. It comes with Bietola, Swiss chard with a citron dressing topped with cheese, the acidity countering the sweetness of the fish.
Desserts are a Semifreddo al Torroncino, an almond nougat cake with chocolate, and Cassatina, pistachio marzipan filled with ricotta cream. Both are like the rest of the meal, light and full of flavour. Service throughout is attentive and unobtrusive.
Authentic flavours from Southern Italy served in a light and fresh package. Even better, if you want to take some of those home, then stack up with olive oils, charcuterie and cheese before you leave.