We arrived in Alberobello, Italy, during low tourist season. The manager of our B&B informed us that we would have no problem getting into the local restaurants without a reservation. Although I'm usually a stickler for making dinner reservations, only one establishment responded to my prior reservation requests, so I was thrilled to hear that getting into the places I wanted to try wouldn't be a problem.
The first night we set out for L'Aratro situated in a trulli in the Rioni Monti district. Walking in, we were greeted by a rather gruff gentleman who seemed slightly irritated by our arrival. When we answered negatively to his question about having a reservation, he impatiently escorted us to a small room in the rear of the restaurant with only one other tourist. OK, so maybe we should have made a reservation, even if the restaurant was only 1/4 full. Surely, once we ordered a nice bottle of wine and a 3-course meal, they would be friendlier to us, we thought. Sadly, that wasn't the case. Overall impression: great ambiance, OK food, great list of local wines, unfriendly service.
With all our travels, we've learned you can't bat a thousand with every restaurant pick. So, we set out the second night to La Locanda di Don Antonio, a restaurant with a reputation of good service and a fun dining experience. Walking up to the entrance, a woman (appearing to be the owner) stepped outside to strike up a conversation with a few locals, blocking the doorway. To avoid being rude, we courteously stepped aside to view the menu in the window while they finished their conversation. When I turned to see if they were wrapping up, they were giving us disgusting looks and talking about us (and I know enough Italian to know they weren't raving about my hair or my shoes!). Overall impression: I wish I could tell you. We were so turned off by the encounter that we never made our way inside the front door! We walked away and chose another restaurant.
Fearing the worst in the Alberobello dining scene at this point, we discussed grabbing a pizza and eating in on our last night (so not our style!). But, this was the night I had a reservation -- La Cantina, the only restaurant to respond to my reservation requests. We showed up on time and were immediately greeted and seated by a friendly gentleman. The restaurant was warm and inviting. And, it was full with local patrons who seemed to enjoy the food, the atmosphere, and the staff. Already, it was turning out to be a good choice!
Through the open kitchen we watched the chef prepare our meal (take a peek of the above video I pulled from their website). The food is simple -- the way I like it! Service is surprisingly efficient: only 3 people run the entire kitchen and restaurant. Hallelujah! Alberobello dining had been redeemed! If you only have one meal in Alberobello, I recommend La Cantina -- with a reservation, of course!
Do you have a "best" or "worst" dining experience in Alberobello? I would love to hear about it!