Although the name of the region changed from Lucania to Basilicata many centuries ago, the area’s food is still referred to as “Lucanian.” Basilicata is widely considered to have the best bread in Italy, because it is made with flour produced from local heirloom grain. The province also produces excellent olive oil, cheeses — caciocavallo Podolico made from the milk of Podolica cattle is the star — and pastas, including orecchiette (dome-shaped pasta resembling little ears), trofie (short, thin, twisted pasta), lagane (wide, thick noodles), tripoline (ribbon pasta) and strascinati (larger orecchiette). Sun-dried red peppers grown near Senise and known as cruschi are a regular condiment. Aside from excellent beef from the Podolica cattle, the region also produces lamb, rabbit and a variety of game, including wild boar.
This charming seafood restaurant is a short walk from the Santavenere hotel. The menu changes often, but look for dishes such red tuna tartare with caramelized onions, seafood salad, and pasta with cherry tomatoes, mussels and baby clams. Booking is essential.
Via Santa Venere 23, Maratea. Tel. (39) 340-971-4623
A team of local women prepare sturdy, heartwarming local dishes at this homey restaurant with red-checkered tablecloths on the main street in Bernalda. The menu follows the seasons but usually offers stuffed squash blossoms, tripoline with breadcrumbs and crushed dried peppers, veal meatballs and braised pork shank. Good wine list and gracious service.
Corso Umberto I 194, Bernalda. Tel. (39) 0835-543-241.
Terranova di Pollino
A beautiful drive leads to chef Federico Valicenti’s country auberge, where excellent rustic Lucanian cooking is served. Expect dishes such as cavatelli with a walnut sauce and black truffles, strascinati with red pepper, ricotta toasts and crunchy pepper flakes, grilled lamb steak with herbs on cicorietta (wild chicory) with onions, and beef fillet with chestnut honey, mint and Aglianico wine.
La Luna Rossa
Via Marconi 18, Terranova di Pollino. Tel. (39) 0973-93254.
Come to chef Fabio Paolicelli’s simple whitewashed dining room, a favorite of the locals, to discover just how good the food in Basilicata can be. Start with cavatelli with mushrooms and caciocavallo cheese and then try the homemade chile-seasoned grilled sausage with broccoli rabe. Don’t miss the ricotta, fig and hazelnut mousse for dessert.
Osteria al Casale
Via Casale 24, Matera. Tel. (39) 0835-165-2525.
The perfect place for lunch in the heart of town is chef-owner Nicola Morcinelli’s restaurant, which has an open kitchen. Try hand-rolled trofie pasta with Lucanian chiles and wild-boar ragu, followed by the mixed grill of lamb and the flavorful Podolica T-bone for two.
Osteria San Francesco
Via del Corso 80, Matera. Tel. (39) 0835-336-454.