Americans don’t like to see the head on a cooked fish so I put them front and center in this picture so that you could get used to the view. You must—if you want to eat well in Italy. The ugly fish front and center is my favorite: Gallinella, or “hen of the sea”.
Pictured is the spectacular zuppetta we had last night at the restaurant inside the Park Hotel Villa Americana, with three different fish caught just outside the door, a few mussels and some toasted bread. The meal was preceded by plate after plate of delicacies from the sea below, including my favorite of the evening, sea snails with olives.
The owner tells me they do a primo piatto using these snails and mushrooms over orecchiette pasta. That’s something I want to try. The hotel makes its own olive oil and cures the olives—fantastic olives I might add, different than any I’ve tasted.
This is the land of olives and agrumi, oranges and lemons, which feature prominently in the cuisine of the Gargano peninsula, making the cuisine much different than that found in the better-known Salento region of Puglia to the south. Salads here are composed from oranges, which often include anchovy in olive oil. The famous cacciacavallo cheese is often served with an orange marmalade to balance the earthiness of the cheese using the sweetness of the oranges. Everything works in harmony.
Foodies and Wanderers: You really must come to the Gargano peninsula, take to the many trails that lace the Foresta Umbra to create a gnawing hunger, then go eat. Anywhere. But I can tell you, the food at the Villa Americana has been top notch. It’s one of those family-run hotels that staunchly remains traditional, catering to every whim of the clientele that return year after year for their summer vacation.
More on the food of the Park Hotel Villa Americana in Italian.
Book a Room at the Park Hotel Villa Americana
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