Best meals 2012: Bacino Grande TY @PaoloCantele

Our first trip to Italy this year with Georgia P was so different than any other either Tracie P or I had ever made. Before our piccolina came along, dinner in Italy was the main meal of the day. But, as our friend Billy (Italophile father to a beautiful toddler) predicted, the mezzogiorno seating became the primary repast of our daily routine.

Lunch at the Ionian with our little bundle of joy was simply one of the most magical experiences of our lives. And the food was terrific: Georgia P couldn’t get enough of the paccheri.

Best Meals 2012: Bacino Grande (Porto Cesareo, Lecce, September).

On Paolo’s recommendation, we headed to Porto Cesareo for lunch today. We wanted beach chairs, umbrella, and a restaurant right on the sea and he pointed us to the west coast of the Salento peninsula to Bacino Grande.

The paccheri ai frutti di mare were one of the best things we’ve eaten on the entire trip. The key to a dish like this is for the jus of the seafood to be absorbed by the pasta. The sauce had just the right consistency and texture and gave the pasta a wonderful savory character, with just a touch of sweetness from the tomato. Superb…

The frittura di paranza: a paranza is a wooden fisherman’s boat used for coastal fishing. This dish is akin to a “captain’s platter” fry. This, also, was over the top good.

It doesn’t really get any fresher than this. I really loved the place, even though the staff was a little bit grouchy.

Georgia P LOVED the paccheri and she had a blast dipping her toes into the warm water of the Ionian. I love how Italians rejoice when you bring a baby into a restaurant and no one ever gives you a dirty look. We are having SO MUCH fun on this trip… She is our joy…

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