Corso Garibaldi, 7 Galatina, Italy 73013
Anima & Cuore, meaning heart and soul, is located in the southern Italian city of Galatina in Puglia. It is …Rating:
Anima & Cuore, meaning heart and soul, is located in the southern Italian city of Galatina in Puglia. It is run by two best friends, Allesandro De Pascalis and Biagino De Matteis. The restaurant is located on the first floor of an ancient structure, with an incredible terrace overlooking the city. The city in and of itself is simply beautiful, untouched by time and well preserved in it’s antiquity. This is quite a special place, and because the owners are very young, it gives it a chic and modern twist to the local food of this region. All of the ingredients are sourced from the area, which creates a remarkable blend of tradition and new concepts, where in this area of the world, is very hard to find.
The restaurant was packed with what looked like entirely local people, families and couples loudly chattering and beaming as they tucked into their lunch. Anima & Cuore has a very warm and inviting feeling, as it being housed in what seems like someone’s large 16th century flat. It felt like I had been invited to a grand luncheon party or a wedding for an old Puglese family.
We started with raw purple prawns from Gallipoli, which is the coastal town just west of Galatina. It was served very simply with avocado and fried leeks. Although lacking in lemon and oil, the product itself was incredible.
Next we tried the sea bream carpaccio, or orata in Italian, and it was served with chopped pistachio, cucumber, orange, and dots of beet root sauce. The fish was beautifully fresh and it worked well with this interesting combination. The cucumber neutralizing the beets, and the pistachios adding texture and nuttiness.
To follow, we had the raw tuna tartar, which was served with roasted aubergine and mint on top of a tomato and basil emulsion. There were sweet roasted cherry tomatoes and olives to round out the dish. I am quite sure it was not tuna in fact, but a very similar cut, which was honestly a fine substitute. Although the dish was lacking in seasoning, I found it to be simple, fresh, traditional yet modern, and elegant.
There was a simple and nutty artichoke salad to follow, served with roughly chopped almonds and a crisp lemon and mustard sauce, which was again both old-fashioned but chic, super fresh, and wholesome.
We decided to try one of the pasta dishes after we were told that the pasta is made from a local wheat that is hand ground and has been made this way for hundreds of years. We chose the handmade spaghetti served with ricci, or sea urchin, which is a very typical southern italian dish in the summer. The pasta was perfect; toothsome and thick, chewy and rich. The ricci was beautifully fresh and worked well with the bits of parsley and small sweet tomatoes. A soggy addition of bread underneath the dish was not necessarily needed, but overall a pasta of perfection.
There were quite a few horse dishes on the menu, which we did not try, but I found this a bit fascinating, and led one to think it is probably a very local thing to eat.
To finish, we had the cuttlefish which was served with local black beans made into a puree with an addition of brandy. There was a bit of dried parsley and again roasted sweet cherry tomatoes. The brandy really was quite an unusual flavour here, but I found that it gave the dish a sort of smokiness and sexiness. I felt that a touch of texture could be added, some fried capers or perhaps fried olives. But it was a very handsome and filling dish, again soft and simple, the cuttlefish perfectly cooked and working well with the interesting combination of the black beans and brandy.
I liked Anime & Cuore for its simplicity, its use of local products mixed with new combinations, and the lively atmosphere of a well-loved local restaurant. The town is enchanting, and adds to it’s charm. As we walked around after the meal, one of the brothers honked his horn and waved to us as he drove away, his day finished. It is very special place that beams good energy and carefully prepared and hand picked products from around Puglia. A very heartwarming and charming restaurant not to miss.