Owner Paola De Donno, who used to crew sailboats, left Sydney in 2009 to return to her hometown Matera, and now lives on the second floor of the 16th-century building that houses Solosud’s three cozy apartments. Each is filled with traditional furniture and fabrics handmade in Salento in south Puglia — there are crocheted cushions and salvaged-wood bedsteads — and decorated with antique farming tools. A continental breakfast of freshly baked focaccia, local cheeses, croissants and homemade jam is served daily in the house kitchen, which looks out toward San Pietro Caveoso square.
Osteria al Casale
Chef Fabio Paolicelli makes some of the best cucina povera in town — his cavatelli with mushrooms and caciocavallo is especially good — as well as pizzas with weird and wonderful toppings (try the mozzarella, sausage and turnip). Everything is served with local aglianico wine — an inky red with a mineral-heavy, peppery punch — in a simple, white-walled space with a terracotta floor. The house dessert, a light-as-air whipped ricotta, fig and hazelnut mousse, is not to be skipped.
Osteria San Francesco
The modern-leaning décor at this via del Corso restaurant — black-and-white Ercol-style chairs, paper moon pendant lights — is restrained, but its chef-patron Nicola Morcinelli, who often emerges to chat with guests, is probably best described as ebullient. In the kitchen, Morcinelli, who grew up in Matera and trained in Versailles and Brussels, keeps the focus on his star ingredients of locally sourced meats and produce. Try the slow-cooked lamb shoulder, accompanied by al dente green beans.
I Vizi degli Angeli
Husband and wife Leonardo de Angelis and Valeria Vizziello had careers in film and advertising when they took up gelato-making. In 2011, they moved from Rome to Matera, Vizziello’s hometown, and opened their own gelateria in a former carpenter’s workshop. Their seasonal, organic ice creams and sorbets are made fresh each morning, and include inventive flavors like mascarpone-and-marron glacé for autumn and milk-and-lavender for summer, along with year-round staples like creamy hazelnut.
The office of a video production company by day, Area 8 morphs into a bar serving cocktails and light bites by night, one that attracts lots of locals and a rotating cast of visiting Angelenos. (Jason Schwartzman and Joaquin Phoenix have both been spotted there.) The space is filled with vintage furniture (a Boalum lamp by Castiglioni for Artemide, 1930s Poltrona Frau leather armchairs) and movie posters. On the terrace, a permanently parked 1955 Piaggio Ape scooter functions as a D.J. booth, playing everything from ’80s Britpop to electronic bass, and live bands swing through at least once a week. Try the Milano-Matera, Area 8’s take on a Negroni, finished with a sprig of burnt thyme, and the tschips — thinly sliced, toasted Materan bread accompanied by gazpacho, stracciatella cheese and black-olive tapenade.
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