Grotta Palazzese is a famous restaurant set in picturesque Polignano a Mare in Puglia, Italy. It's known for its stunning views of the Adriatic sea and cliff-side dining experience. With the restaurant's growing popularity on social media, we had to dine there for ourselves. Here's an honest review of the most Instagrammed restaurant in the world.
Polignano a Mare is a beautiful old beach town with stunning views from any angle, but one view in particular couldn't go unseen while in Puglia - and that's the view from restaurant Grotta Palazzese. You may recognise it from Instagram posts and viral Facebook videos, its gorgeous views of the Adriatic sea from the edge of a cliff is an experience many add to their bucket lists, but is it worth it? Tripadvisor reviews say it's nothing special, so we decided to try it for ourselves.
Booking a table
We booked Grotta Palazzese five nights in advance and were surprised to lock in a reservation at 7pm on a Monday night with no issue. We chose 7pm to see the sunset although typically this is a very early dinner in Polignano a Mare (a normal dinner time is around 9 or 10). They refuse to allocate tables so we organised to get there early at 6:20pm to secure a spot directly on the cliff.
When we arrived to the restaurant it was just as stunning as the photos. The restaurant wasn't completely full but there was limited tables available on the cliff side. Our waiter walked us to our table and it was right on the edge of the cliff - perfect!
The menu has limited options for dinner and they're very pricy. You can order two courses of your choice for 130 euro or the five course tasting menu for 150 euro. They also had additional tasting menu options with a premium beverage pairing option. We opted for the two courses each and added a bottle of wine for 40 euro. We found this extremely expensive for Puglia, especially given the incredible meals, pastas and pizzas, we'd eaten previously which cost around 10 euro.
Everything we'd eaten in Puglia was absolutely delicious whether we'd pay 5 euro or 50 euro. We hadn't yet experienced a bad meal in Italy... until we visited Grotta Palazesse.
First course was ravioli with Apulian burrata with borage cream, strips of beef fillet and pistachio grain, and pacchero pasta with cheese, Sichuan pepper and red shrimp. The flavours of the ravioli dish were extremely dull and didn't balance. The strips of beef were chewy and a strange addition to the ravioli. There was an overwhelming taste of pepper with the pacchero pasta, so much that it was difficult to taste any other flavour. Not a great start to the night.
Second course was roasted lamb with paprika chicory and crumble of black rice, and sea bass with yellow tomato emulsion, mint oil and crispy red cabbage. The lamb wasn't awful, but it wasn't amazing. The chicory was very bitter and we couldn't finish it. The sea bass however was tasty and had a lovely soft texture.
Oh, the Chianti wine we drank was great too. However at 40 euro, it was the cheapest option.
Although the restaurant's setting is stunning, it isn't worth the money. The food isn't anything special which is disappointing given Polignano a Mare has some of the best food in Italy. You can order a fresh 10euro pasta from any of the local restaurants in the old town and you would feel more satisfied than with the options at Grotta Palazzese.
At minimum 130 euro per person with disappointing food, it is extremely expensive for what you receive. Perhaps if they refined the menu options to reflect the incredible food Italy has to offer, the price would be more justified.
The view and atmosphere is truly incredible and a once-in-a-lifetime experience however we still are unable to recommend this restaurant to anyone. You could see similar views from the old town's main viewing area and the food is average.
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