Magazines like Maxim, Food & Wine, and social media have all been buzzing over the same cliffside restaurant. The restaurant in Grotta Palazzese Hotel in Polignano a Mare in Puglia, Italy. One can’t blame them, I mean look at this place.
The only thing is, every time I see an article about cliffside restaurants in Italy, I have the urge to shout “but have you seen Porta di Basso in Peschici, Italy? It’s so much more romantic! Their balcony tables feel like a secret cacoon hanging above the Adriatic. Then there’s the food, my goodness the FOOD!”
Cliffside Restaurant Porta di Basso
Porta di Basso is a restaurant in Peschici, Italy recommended by Gambero Rosso and Michelin Guide. Here’s why this immersive fine-dining experience by Executive Chef Domenico Clienti should be on everyone’s list of the best cliffside restaurants in Italy.
First, there is the location that offers an unparalleled cliffside view. Second, the balcony has just a few tables making it feel private, exclusive, and romantic. Third, the food! Clients can choose from a set menu of the classics or be more adventurous with a daily menu that captures the unpredictable offerings of the sea. Chef Clienti’s nuanced approach teases out the bright flavors of fresh seafood grounded by Apulian ingredients for the land. Think Panzanella and Tuna. Seared Cuttlefish and Turnips. Podolico beef and Polpo.
His commitment to organic, biodynamic, and wild products earned Chef Clienti numerous awards including best young chef in Puglia (2006) and chef of the year in Puglia (2008). Just one year after Porta di Basso opened in 2002, Chef Clienti was recognized by Michelin Guide in 2003 as the top pick in Peschici.
Michelin Guide Review
“What for years has certainly been the best restaurant in the Gargano shows, even more than in the past, how stubbornness and seriousness allow it to continue to grow even without upsetting, year after year, one step at a time. The chef-patron Domenico Cilenti presents himself today with two tasting menus: one dedicated to the classics that represent the history of the place and one blindly built day by day with the best ingredients on the market. Whatever your choice, a refined simplicity is evident in the dishes, fueled by a specific intent: to express the flavor of the vibrant raw material of Puglia. “— Michelin Guide
Cliffside Restaurant Experience
Porta di Basso offers Mediterranean, contemporary, fine dining that is surprisingly approachable. A good thing too! For our visit to Porta di Basso my husband Paolo, not wanting to ruin the surprise, told me nothing about where we were going. He’d made the reservation on the sly to cap off a day of exploration in Peschici. Had I known, I would have dressed to the nines! Instead, I felt a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, completely out of my league in my cotton dress and jean jacket.
As we were escorted through Porta di Basso’s all-white interior I went completely speechless. By the time we were seated at our outside table on the balcony, my jaw had hit the proverbial floor. Thankfully the warm hospitality Puglia is known for shines at Porta di Basso. Despite being completely unprepared I quickly settled into what proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience. As the sun set that evening at Porta di Basso, I sat back and savored every second and every bite.
Cliffside Restaurant Video
Ever the foodie shutterbug, I was for once lulled into putting down my iPhone. So you’ll have to forgive the borrowed photos from Porta di Basso in the gallery above, as I only snapped a picture of the first plate. To help illustrate how amazing the full experience is at Porta di Basso I’ve included a video from a local Puglia guide who is a regular at Porta di Basso. It’s in Italian, but I promise his appreciation of the food translates just fine!
Dining at Porta di Basso at sunset was the singular most romantic dining experience of my life… to date. Could Porta di Basso be the best cliffside restaurant in all of Italy? I believe it might be. That is until I’m proven wrong. I’m beginning to believe I need to eat at every cliffside restaurant in Italy just to be sure. What do you think? A worthy challenge? Let me know in the comments below!
Our evening at Porta di Basso left an impression on Paolo too. He created a fine art print from Peschici in memory of the occasion that he titles All the Good Things.
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That’s just absolutely stunning!