A few kilometers from Gallipoli is Matino which preserves the charm of a small village perched on one of the last offshoots of the Salento’s hills. As evidence of this, the ladders that connect streets, squares, courtyards and narrow, winding alleys that creep between the elegant buildings of the historic center, all gathered between the imposing palace of the Marchesi Del Tufo and the sixteenth-century mother church dedicated to St. George.
Foscolo: restaurant and art gallery
And it is from the square where the symbols of the town are faced that you descend into a small street where almost hidden and revealed only by the light that filters through the glass door there is the Foscolo restaurant, but also an art gallery, born by an idea of Marta Carichino and Luca Pavia.
Crossing the threshold that overlooks the small courtyard that gives its name to the restaurant, you found yourself immersed in a very particular atmosphere, in which the personalities of Marta, Salentine engaged in the world of fashion and Luca, art dealer in Milan, emerge fully.
In the building at the end of the 1800s, a fully French taste stands out with combinations of retro armchairs and minimalist furnishings that contrast nicely with the original structure, elegantly enhanced by lamps and contemporary works of art.
The ground floor houses the cocktail bar, divided into three welcoming rooms where the deliberately low light wraps like in a mother’s womb.
Giancarlo reigns here proposing, not before having investigated the tastes of everyone, a cocktail of classics like the perfect Kyr Royal that we have chosen, to the unpublished that you can find only here. To be enjoyed around low marble tables combined with linear seating and vintage upholstered in velvet.
A staircase that dominates the entrance hall leads to the noble floor where you feel like guests of a house in which the powder-gray wood paneling and the antique pink walls coexist in perfect harmony with the star vaults and the protagonists are the tables dressed with tablecloths in linen fringed à jour and dishes and glasses with clean lines among which the tapering lamps dominate, which light up in a discreet way, creating an immediate harmony between the guests.
The staircase then continues up to the panoramic terraces where you can enjoy the spectacle of the roofs of the village and in summer you can dine under the stars.
In the dining room, in addition to the discreet presence of Marta who, prompted by our questions, talks about her past as director of marketing in the Meltin’Pot company that right here in Matino produces the jeans that are worn all over the world, there’s Annarita Merenda that conquer with her courteous professionalism but also and above all with her contagious sympathy.
In the kitchen, the talented hand of chef Gabriele Bilotta, assisted by those of the sous-chef Eugenio, tends to recover traditional ingredients, making them more sparkling through stimulating arrangements, proposing an intelligent menu made even more exciting by the D’Araprì bubbles.
The excellent welcome based on potato cream and mushroom ragout with crouton and fragrant rosemary bodes well and punctually comes the confirmation with the smoked pony steak with figs cotto and citrus goat cheese. The high quality level of the products is immediately perceived and confirmed by a small delicacy to be discovered: the Royale egg, cooked at low temperature and served with foie gras fondue, Langhe hazelnuts and Acqualagna prized black truffle.
Exquisite and so tasty as to think that no later dish can bear the comparison that instead is adequately supported by white and black tortelli filled with creamed and smoked mackerel on fresh almond and lemon cream.
The slightly smoky flavor also sophisticatedly connotes the pigeon served with yuzu sauce, pumpkin seeds and the slightly colored touch of the cornflower buds and the other meat second, the carrè cooked at a controlled temperature, with Jerusalem artichoke puree, ointment of garlic and potatoes sautéed with hazelnut butter, where the same sublime balance between contrasting elements returns.
But the real stroke of genius comes to the table with dessert, coffee and cigarette tiramisù in which breaking the chocolate dome you immerse the spoon in the soft cream while an intense hint of smoke reaches the nostrils.
Al Foscolo, the game of rebounding among the precious works of art on the walls and the colorful, perfumed and captivating creations on the table intrigue eyes and palate, creating a state of harmonious interweaving that it is hard to abandon.
Via Ugo Foscolo, 15 – Matino (Le)
Info: +39 366 8719532 – +39 0833 217857