Surely one of the most beautiful corners, intimate and quiet of Otranto, in the maze of uphill streets leading to the Cathedral by the magnificent floor mosaics, the work of monaco Pantaleone. But here, at the restaurant Il Giardino Nascosto, the creative force is Simona Muscatello. Young, enthusiastic and determined, she has abandoned the fixed place in the bank in Florence to launch in catering.
With a degree in Political Sciences in his pocket, she began with true humility, from the bottom rung as a dishwasher in the famous Enoteca Pinchiorri. Like a sponge has absorbed vapors and secrets of this great Italian cuisine and, when she came to miss his dad, he made the choice to return home in her Otranto. She fell in love, her husband Andrea idruntino like her, and the space, which over time has been a shelter for animals and also of the fishermen’s nets.
It’s born in that way Il Giardino Nascosto, which owes its name to a citrus suspended in the streets and palaces of the ancient village, where stands a huge walnut tree besides ensuring shadow to the guests who chose the delicious restaurant for lunch, also a special meaning. Simona explains that the walnut tree casts the tormented souls of the dead. So beloved to witches and sorcerers, the walnut has always maintained an aura of legend, which was then transmitted to the preparation of walnut. In fact, traditionally, the nuts are still collected in the night of St. John in number 24 and without damaging the skin. Let the dew for the whole night, they set the day after infusion. Their training ended on the eve of All Saints, that is, the night of October 31. Simona prepares it just like that, but to taste it we will have to come back!
Furnishings simple and authentic cuisine are the hallmarks of this restaurant by the atmosphere at the same time cool and welcoming. Few seats inside and in summer, with outdoor tables on the balcony, double. The authenticity of the place is guaranteed not only by the ancient walls also from Simona cuisine. “Fresh fish is the king of the table declined my way” – she says. “I do everything myself, I invent my dishes and I’m going to taste”. Her favorite? Spaghetti my sea with the fish and the freshest fruits of the sea in the season, and scapece, with small fish fried and marinate made between layers of bread crumbs with saffron, in a milder version without vinegar. And is also a feast for the eyes the dish arrives at the table: a slab of slate on which fresh delicious dishes seem to float.
Il Giardino Nascosto is open all year round with an aperitif on Sunday evening and the terrace in the season, ideal for couples and groups of friends. And both inside and outside pets are welcome!
What we tasted us? The seafood appetizer, the homemade spaghetti with sauce to the fragrant curls and a crisp mixed fried fish in foil. Finally a delicate and fluffy cheesecake with berries served in a boccaccio. And a promise to return to sample other dishes created by the inspiration of Simona.
Il Giardino Nascosto
Via G. M. Laggetto, Otranto (Le)
Info: +39 333 1507874