Già Sotto l’Arco is one of the best restaurants in Puglia according to the Gambero Rosso, who awards it two forks, and it also has one Michelin star. It is located in a nice old palazzo on the main square in the town of Carovigno, near Ostuni in Puglia.
There is both a la carte or tasting menus: 4, 6, or 8 courses for 65, 85 or 120 euros. We opted for 6 courses with matching wines (35 euro’s).
The ‘welcome of the kitchen’ is a cream of lettuce with ricotta, paired with a sparkling Grillo from Sicily.
The menu starts with a scallop with cream of almonds. The scallop is fresh and therefore a bit less tender than we are used to (most scallops have been frozen and become quite soft). The combination of scallop and almonds works well and the almond flavor is well executed in this dish. There is also a bit of mango sauce to add a fresh note. Unfortunately the accompanying Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli does not do well with the dish — the cream of almonds makes the wine seem very sour. The owner of the restaurant explained that he wanted to start with a fresh white wine, and although I agree with that idea in general it simply does not work at all with the richness of this particular dish. 6/10
I forgot to take a photo of the next dish, which was crispy octopus with cream of potatoes and cream of beets. The octopus was cooked until the grill until it was almost burnt, and this gave it a very nice flavor. It worked well with the accompanying Fiano from Puglia. 8/10
Next is ravioli colored with squid ink and stuffed with tuna, garnished with Japanese katsuobushi (so a bit of fusion). The ravioli are delicious and the smoky flakes really add something to the dish. It is paired well with a Negroamaro rosé from Puglia. 8/10
Orecchiette with a ‘white’ lamb ragù and cream of ricotta. The ragù is very creamy and flavorful, and the accompanying Frappato from Sicily that is slightly fizzy does a very good job of cleaning the palate. 9/10
Veal stewed in Aleatico wine with cream of potatoes and carrots. The veal is very flavorful and tender (you could eat it with a spoon) and works very well with a 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. A big compliment to the sommelier for serving this wine at the right age. Because not only is the wine at its peak, it also works much better with a dish like this. The wine is in great balance with present but well integrated tannins. 9/10
Dessert: cherries poached in Aleatico wine with chocolate, and served with a glass of Aleatico wine. The wine is just sweet enough to work with the dessert. 8/10
The food is good with nice flavors and technically well executed, well deserving of a Michelin star. 8.5/10
Except for the mistake with the Sauvignon with a creamy dish, the wines are good and well chosen with the dishes. The serving temperature of the wine could be improved (the whites less cold, the red less warm). 8.5/10
The service was good, although the waiter that brought most of our food (the son’s owner), did not appear to enjoy following in his father’s footsteps. He said as little as possible. 7.5/10
Già sotto l’arco offers good value for money. We had a good time.