Andy Mossack gets a glorious taste of southern Italy in London’s Borough Market when he dined at the new-look Pulia Restaurant.
From the sun-drenched vineyards of Italy’s boot heel to one of London’s hottest dining spots at Borough Market, Pulia Restaurant has had quite a journey. But it has earned it as this belter of southern Italian food heaven has a very impressive pedigree. Provenance and authenticity have become bywords for quality, and this family-run business has bucketloads of that as its roots lay deep in the Puglia region, with its own vineyards and winery. Pulia Restaurant began life in Borough Market’s Stoney Street as an Apulian deli and bakery back in 2015, before rebooting during the pandemic into this new restaurant. And trust me, it has all been well worth the effort.
It’s a beautiful contemporary space designed to capture the elements of a typical Pugliese landscape; plenty of rustic terracotta reds, stone wall greys and even rows of real wheat capping each end of the room. Sitting at my table I found a tiny ceramic bowl hiding behind the pepper pot, “what this?” I asked Maria, who arrived with our menus, “it’s a traditional Pomo di Puglia flower, give it a touch for luck.” I was getting the feeling the lucky powers of the Pomo wouldn’t be needed for this dinner.
To me it was a menu straight out of a Pugliese trattoria; capocollo ham (the Italian version of Ibérico ham), podolica beef (a rare breed only found in southern Italy), cavatelli pasta, and of course zampina, the famous Pugliese spiral sausage. Faced with such an embarrassment of riches, we dived headlong into the antipasti just like a couple of locals.
As southern Italy is the home of buffalo mozzarella, I kicked off with burrata di Andria con prosciutto crudo (£14) a generous dollop of Andrian burrata dressed with Pulia’s own olive oil, and some freshly carved Capocollo laid out on a bed of rocket. Mrs M didn’t dawdle, she went straight for the bruschetta – frisella con lonza cacioricotta et Carciofi (£8.5). A traditional toasted bagel-like biscuit topped with pork loin cuts, crispy artichoke and crumbled local ricotta. “This is sensational” she managed to mumble between mouthfuls. Made all the better with a couple of glasses of their own Primitivo di manduria DOP riserva (£9) a beautifully smooth red that practically screams “drink some more” at me.
By now, despite this being a very chilly Thursday night, Pulia was packed to the rafters, a welcome sight for a resto only recently opened.
Our main courses proved to be another celebration of excellent Pugliese fare. I jumped at the chance to try the daily special Stracotto al primitivo (£20) a traditional slow-cooked stew made from the aforementioned Podolica beef. Frankly, anything slow-cooked is heaven on a plate for me, and this stew was melt-in-the-mouth perfect. I tagged on a side of oven-baked potatoes with rosemary (£5) as surprisingly, the Stracotto didn’t come with any vegetables; a minor quibble, but it warranted some accompaniment I felt.
On the other hand. Mrs M went for coteletta alla Pugliese di carne Podolica (£19) a huge portion of breaded veal (essentially an Italian schnitzel) that came with a plentiful spade of spinach. To top this off, we shared a side of fagiolini, (£5) stewed green beans with tomatoes.
I was really feeling the Apulian love now, as were the rest of my fellow diners. It seems this kind of authenticity can transport us to the old country, not quite the same as being there, but you get what I mean.
Maria was back with a tantalising suggestion. “If you’re having a dessert, I would love you to try our Cassatina, trust me, it is delicious.”
It would be rude not to, so we shared a plate of cassatina. Who can resist pistachio marzipan shaped like a small fish and filled with ricotta cream?
This whole experience was a total triumph for me bringing back fond memories of cosy trattorias in remote Italian villages on cold winter nights. It was that authentic. Pulia’s family owners say its new look is about being an ambassador of taste, flavour and tradition of the region, and I can’t disagree. They even have a stock of their own wines and olive oil from the family estate on sale, so you can take home a taste of real Puglia.
As I got up to go, I glanced at our tiny Pomo di Puglia flower and was sure I spotted a sneaky smile. I was right though; I didn’t need any of its powers of luck in Pulia Restaurant that night.
Restaurant and food pics (C) Andy Mossack and Pulia.
Tell me more about Pulia Restaurant, Borough Market, London.
Pulia Restaurant, 36 Stoney Street, London SE1 9LB
T: +44 (0) 207 407 8766 E: email@example.com
Mon-Fri 11 AM – 11 PM, Sat 11 AM – 11 PM, Sun 11 AM – 7 PM
Reservations are recommended at firstname.lastname@example.org