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What To Eat In Bari: From Killer Pasta To Sweet Coffee

Knowing what to eat in Bari, Italy will ensure that you experience all that this amazing city has to offer, including Killer Spaghetti and some Caffè Leccese.

What to eat in Bari - Spaghetti All'Assassina

Spaghetti all’Assassina

If you are spending a long time in Rome, you may want to get away for a weekend and check out some of the other amazing cities that are an easy train ride away. Bari, Italy is one such city that I would highly recommend you take some time to visit. If your plans include other cities in the region of Puglia, then Bari is probably already on your list. If it isn’t, it should be.

What Is Bari Vecchia?

Bari is the capital of the Apulia (Puglia) region and is on the Adriatic Sea in southern Italy. It is the second most important city economically, in the south after Naples. It is an important port, it has a university and it is known as the city of Saint Nicholas, yes, THAT St. Nicholas.

Bari is made up of four different urban sections. To the north of the city is the very tightly built old town, a.k.a. Bari Vecchia, with the Basilica of Saint Nicholas, the Cathedral of San Sabino and the Hohenstaufen Castle. To the south is the Murat quarter, where we stayed recently, the more modern center of the city and more modern residential neighborhoods that surround the center of Bari.

What To Eat In Bari That Is famous?

One of my favorite things about Italy is that there are very different, and delicious, regional foods that make exploring Italy that much more fun. The unique foods of Bari will be described below, which are my favorites: Focaccia, Spaghetti all’Assassina, Panzerotti, Cafè Leccese and Riso, Patate e Cozze.

You may find these available in other regions of Italy, but the Barese version is unique and delicious, so if you are in the area, you should check them out.

What to eat in Bari - Focaccia

Barese Focaccia

Who Makes The Best Focaccia In Bari?

The delicious focaccia of Bari is an oven baked bread that traditionally has tomatoes, olives and oregano as toppings, but there are an almost infinite number of options to try. There is a lot of delicious olive oil, both on the bottom of the bread, but also as a topping, so you will want to be sure to bring plenty of napkins.

Unlike the version of focaccia that Italians and visitors enjoy in Genoa, the Barese don’t typically enjoy theirs for breakfast. That said, the popular bakeries (Panificio) open around 9:00 am and can sell out, so you will want to make sure you get there early and save it for your favorite meal.

We tried two different bakeries that were amazing and you need to try as well. Both of these are popular on social media, so you can expect crowds but it is worth the effort. Our two recommendations are:

  • Panificio Santa Rita – This bakery is in the old town (Bari Vecchia) section of the city, at: Str. dei Dottula, 8. There are two different lines, one for those only getting their daily bread (Pane) and the other for the focaccia. In the focaccia line, if there is a crowd, you will need to get a number and wait outside until it is called.

  • Panificio Fiore – This bakery can be found at: Strada Palazzo di Città, 38, which is also in the Bari Vecchia section of the city. Like Santa Rita, they open at 8:30 and draw a crowd. My experience was in the late summer, and one thing to keep in mind is that this ancient building doesn’t seem to have any cooling, so when you walk in you will feel like you were hit in the face by a furnace.

What to eat in Bari - Bao at Urban

Bao At Urban

Who Invented Spaghetti all’Assassina In Bari?

It is generally accepted that a chef named Enzo Francafilla invented this Killer Spaghetti (Spaghetti all’Assassina) at his restaurant in Bari, called: Al Sorso Preferito, which is still around today. Looking at their menu, it seems like they have moved on from their invention, but the tradition has been picked up by others.

My favorite place is Urban – l’Assassineria Urbana, which can be found at: via Nicolai, 10. Their Killer Spaghetti is amazing, their wines were delicious and the menu is what I would call an eclectic mix of traditional, asian influenced and slightly mexican as well. They offer, in addition to the spaghetti, tacos, poke and one of my favorites, Bao. We had a delicious lunch with very helpful staff.

What to eat in Bari - Caffè Leccese

Caffè Leccese

What Is Caffè Leccese?

I prefer my espresso bitter and angry, which means I don’t usually add sugar, but I have not had a more refreshing drink than the Caffè Leccese that I enjoyed at Salvatore Petriella’s Caffè and Bistrot found at: Via Salvatore Cognetti, 14.

The Caffè Leccese is a local delicacy that involves an espresso coffee and an almond syrup. Many recipes I’ve seen online describe it as having sweet almond milk, but this is not correct. The very sweet almond syrup is added to espresso and served over ice, which results in a thicker, sweeter drink that is perfect on a hot day. 


This might not be the healthiest option, but Panzerotti, which is a deep-fried, stuffed bread that you need to try at least once in your life. If it is done right, the Panzerotti isn’t greasy, isn’t two bready and the filling needs to be screaming hot.

My favorite place for Panzerotti is at Mastro Ciccio, which is found at: Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 15. You will need to navigate past the very impressive octopus sandwich before arriving at the Panzerotti. I tried the Criminale, which is a bit spicy and loaded with cheese and onions, but if you don’t like spicy, there are other options that include: Mozzarella, Beef, Pork and Octopus.

What to eat in Bari - Riso, Patate e Cozze

Riso, Patate e Cozze

Traditional Rice, Potato and Mussels

Rice, potatoes and mussels, known as Riso, Patate e Cozze is a traditional Bari dish. I believe this is considered Cucina Povera due to the inexpensive nature of the main ingredients: rice, potatoes and mussels (the most inexpensive and available seafood around Bari).

The waiter who delivered my plate took a second to tell me that this was a traditional dish, cooked in a way that might be a little unexpected because unlike Risotto, this is baked in a pan/dish that results in something a little different than what I might expect. It was delicious and I strongly recommend trying it at La Uascèzze, which is in  Bari Vecchia at: Vico S. Agostino 2-3-4.

More Food Options To Check Out In Bari

This is a pretty short list, but if you are planning a weekend getaway to Bari, these are definitely a “Must Try”. I haven’t even mentioned the famous Orecchiette, the fried polenta, fresh fish and taralli that are also a treat, but that will have to wait for another post because this is getting long.

More Weekend Getaways From Rome

If you enjoyed these suggestions of what to eat in Bari on a weekend visit, check out some of these other posts about some cities that are easy to reach and worth the effort.

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