You feel like you’re on a boat, ready for a dive from the cliff of Marina di Novaglie. Because at Lo Scalo the sea is the protagonist thanks to the terraces and platforms equipped with deckchairs and umbrellas of this family restaurant located in a cove where the crystalline waters creep between the rocks a few kilometers from Santa Maria di Leuca.
Delights overlooking the sea
The restful notes of white dominate, surrounded by chianche, dry stone walls and white umbrellas that emerge from the intense green of the fragrant Mediterranean scrub.
Just arrived, it is precisely towards the shore clinging to the rock that accompanies us Cesare Longo, who together with his father Pippi and his mother Maria, takes care of this little gem started by his grandfather Cesarino.
We will have the opportunity at the table to talk to the whole family about the evolution of Lo Scalo, a family-run restaurant that has just turned fifty years old, but does not show them after the recent restyling, carried out in respect of the places.
But before we sit down to taste the preparations created by Cesare together with chef Raffaele Ingrosso, who this year joins Longo’s family in the kitchen, we enjoy sunbathing and diving in the splendid sea of Marina di Novaglie.
Sea that immediately materializes on the table starting from the carpaccio of croaker with pineapple, Sichuan pepper and Tiggiano’s pastinaca (a local carrot) granita, a dish in which the delicate flavor of the fish is enhanced by the freshness of the bed of cubes of the tropical fruit and acquires a sparkling elegance thanks to the citrusy aftertaste of the oriental berry.
Without forgetting the attention to the quality of the raw materials and belonging to the surrounding area, in this case interpreted in a lively and original way by the purple carrot called “Pastanaca ti santu pati”, in honor of Sant’Ippazio, the Patron Saint of Tiggiano , its village of origin a few kilometers from Novaglie.
Go up with intensity with the purple Gallipoli prawn served on a dried Vitigliano pea puree, but a little penalized by the full and firm taste of the lard that goes to overwhelm that of the crustacean.
Along the same lines of homage to the creativity of the chef and at the same time of the consideration of the products of the Salento land, there are the first courses, fun transpositions in maritime key of some classics of the kitchen. We were thrilled by the Benedetto Cavalieri Spaghettone with black garlic and purple shrimp in which flavors, temperatures and consistencies of pasta and of raw shellfish balance in a harmonious and perfect way.
The Linguina Benedetto Cavalieri to the dripping of Cetara anchovies, turnips and taralli crumble, seemed less convincing not for goodness but for seasonal inadequacy which however has its raison d’etre – Cesare and Raffaele explain to us in unison – as a form of kind tribute to the tastes and requests of the foreign clientele here always very numerous.
Sober and delicate is the slice of croaker cooked at low temperature, served with a pleasant concassé of tomato, capers and celline olives and under a dome formed by crispy julienne-style potatoes: the diversity of consistencies and the mutual enhancement of flavors are very pleasant between the delicate taste of the fish and the more intense taste of the local tubers.
Alternatively, classic solutions such as the catch of the day prepared according to tradition.
The moment of dessert, a Croccantino with Copeta Leccese, we have pleasantly shared with Pippi, Cesare and Maria who have excited and involved us with their stories related to the family restaurant.
Lo Scalo was opened fifty years ago by grandfather Cesare, Maria’s father, and is now run by her husband Pippi Longo, a former cook on board the blue ships of the Lauro fleet, and by Cesare, the younger son who graduated from the hotel school of Santa Cesarea Terme, he then had several experiences in the kitchens of renowned restaurants abroad before returning to the kitchen in Novaglie. While Agostino, the eldest son, takes care of both the restaurant service and his passion for fishing, whose fruits often end up in the dishes of the restaurant’s guests.
The chatter then gives us the opportunity to discover ties with the part of the family that has moved to Conversano, our country, and therefore the meeting has taken on the flavor of a real reunion with the promise to return, perhaps out of season to enjoy more calmly spending the night at their Bed & Breakfast located just 200 meters from the restaurant and the sea.
With the commitment to taste other dishes from the rich menu studied four-handed in collaboration with chef Raffaele Ingrosso and Cesare who struggled not a little to realize his purpose: to make appreciate the sea-view tables of Lo Scalo not only the traditional cuisine but interesting dishes, executed with a touch of inspiration without denying the identity of belonging.
Via Amerigo Vespucci
Marina di Novaglie (Le)
Info: +39 0833 533488 – + 39 339 3079694