A Puglia hotel with charm in spades

Masseria Le Carrube: a chic boutique hotel with standout cuisine

exterior
exterior

On a recent trip to coastal, seafood-centric Puglia, one of my top finds was, rather surprisingly, the vegetarian restaurant at the lovely, limestone Masseria Le Carrube, a new boutique hotel set among endless olive groves near the charming towns of Ostuni and trullo-filled Alberobello. Owned by the family-run San Domenico Hotels – of more luxuriousBorgo Egnazia and Masseria Cimino fame – Le Carrube (first picture) is a toned-down, whitewashed oasis with an abundance of local colour – and delicious food prepared by neighbourhood nonnas.

room interior
room interior

Our group of six stayed in one of the inn’s large suites of rooms (doubles from €180, example in second picture), which share the same Zen aesthetic that I enjoyed at Borgo Egnazia just down the road. The design is all natural materials in neutral hues, with peaceful grapevine-strewn patios setting the stage for a late-afternoon Aperol spritz and poolside lounging. In the dining room, the original stone mill of this 17th-century building takes centre stage, and the space is quite magical by night, its vaulted ceilings illuminated by candlelight.

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As with most meals in Puglia, baskets of circular tarallibiscuits whet the appetite – dipped in San Domenico’s own olive oil (this brilliant green variety is outstanding; tins can be bought at the front desk). Primi consisted of pasta dishes such as carob-flourtagliatelle with seasonal vegetables, and laganari with Apulian green beans. Among us we sampled spelt with asparagus and carrots, a dense cauliflower risotto, and red wild rice with shavings of Parmesan, which, for me, was the stellar standout. Sides of chickpeas with ginger and a bitter rocket salad rounded out the meal, while a glass of the Negroamaro Cabernet by Masseria Li Veli (€42) paired beautifully with the chef’s fresh flavour combinations.

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After dessert of subtly sweet pear cake with Chantilly cream, or cinnamon-infused ricotta cheese with orange crêpes, even the committed carnivores among us left happily sated. But what really makes Masseria Le Carrube so special is the people working there: Valentina, Valeria and Palma are happy to help with everything and anything, and the whole experience feels authentically, rustically Puglian. Please tell them that I sent you…

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