Top 11 Must-Try Typical Foods in Bari (With Local Tips!)

When you visit Bari, one thing you shouldn’t ever miss is the local food. The simplicity of the flavors and the genuine ingredients are the strengths of the typical dishes of Bari. In this article, I’m going to tell you which are the most popular foods of this city and how you should eat them.

So, what food is Bari known for?

  1. Focaccia Barese
  2. Tiella Barese
  3. Orecchiette alle Cime di Rapa
  4. Calzone di Cipolla
  5. Pane di Altamura
  6. Fave e Cicoria
  7. Pasta al Forno
  8. Sgagliozze
  9. Zucchine alla Poverella
  10. Cozze Gratinate
  11. Braciole al Sugo

There’s a lot more you need to know about these typical dishes of Bari. Also, there are several tips and techniques that will help you to eat each one of these like a true local.

Focaccia Barese

The Focaccia from Bari is a soft bread made with simple ingredients: cherry tomatoes, olives, yeast, potatoes, and salt. You can eat it as an aperitif, at noon as a snack or even as dinner. It is the perfect meal for people who don’t have enough time to cook or sit in a restaurant.

Some tips that could help you:

  1. Be careful when you are eating it because toppings tend to slide off the slice and stain your clothes.
  2. When you buy a Focaccia Barese, make sure you get a bottle of water too. This dish is very salty, so it will make you feel thirsty.
  3. You could pair this dish with other Italian foods like mozzarella, prosciutto or mortadella. Also, you can eat it with many types of salads.
Focaccia Barese with Cherry Tomatoes and Green Olives

Tiella Barese

The Tiella Barese or commonly known as ”Riso, Patate e Cozze” is a first course made with rice, potatoes, mussels, onions, and tomatoes. “Tiella” refers to the terracotta dish used to prepare this oven-baked recipe. It may be a heavy dish because it has a lot of layers, but the chances are that you will end loving it.

There are some tips I can give you to enjoy this dish fully: 

  1. The best time of year to eat the Tiella Barese is summer when the mussels are more fresh and tasty. Mussels are the essence of this dish, so they need to be the best quality.
  2. The perfect wine to pair with this dish is a glass of rosé or white wine. According to the wine expert Vittoria Cisonno, the best choice is a grape variety known as “Bombino Nero.”
  3. Make sure you have an empty plate next to you to throw the mussel shells on it. This will help you eat cleaner and better feel the taste of the rice. Remember to clean the rice inside the shells.
  4. If you plan to keep the Tiella Barese, make sure to put it in the fridge and consume it within a day. I recommend you use an airtight jar and seal it correctly.
Baked Rice in a Baking Pan with Mussels, Potatoes, Onions and Tomatoes

Orecchiette alle Cime di Rapa

The Orecchiette alle Cime di Rapa are among the most typical dish of Puglia, made with an ear-shaped pasta, broccoli rabe, and garlic. This dish is also known for being one of the healthiest foods in Apulia, so it is perfect for vegans and for people who want to stay fit. At first, its taste can be a bit bitter and pungent, but over time you will get used to it.

Some tips you should know to eat and cook it:

  1. The best time of the year to eat this dish is winter when the broccoli rabes are fresher and in season. Always choose the ones that have many flowers and don’t have yellow parts.
  2. Personally, I prefer to add the anchovies separately so that I can distinguish each flavor. Also, I suggest you don’t add any cheese or sauce on it. It is better to keep this dish simple.
  3. To make this dish tastier, I suggest you use fresh handmade pasta instead of the dried ones. This is because fresh pasta absorbs more the flavor of broccoli rabe.

Calzone di Cipolla

The Calzone di Cipolla is a salty rustic pie stuffed with onions, olives, anchovies, and grated cheese. This dish uses a special onion variety known as Sponsali, but you can use the normal ones as well. It is an easy recipe that you can take for picnics, parties, and dinners.

Some advice that I can give you:

  1. Before you take a piece of Calzone di Cipolla, make sure it is at room temperature. This will prevent the stuffing from falling out of the slice.
  2. This dish may be hard to digest, so I suggest you pair it with some salads and do not eat too late.
Rustic  Italian Pie with Onions and Crunchy Crust

Pane di Altamura

The Pane di Altamura is a type of rustic bread known for being one of the best bread in the world. What makes this dish so unique is its texture, its taste, and its flavor. The Altamura Bread has a crunchy crust, while the inside is soft and chewy.

Some tips and ideas that I can give you:

  1. You can add a bit of olive oil on a plate and soak a piece of Altamura Bread on it. This is one of the most famous Italian traditions in the world.
  2. When this bread is stale, you can make delicious Bruschette with it. Simply toast it and add cherry tomatoes, oregano, olive oil, and salt on top.
  3. The best way to keep the Altamura Bread is by using the same paper bag that the baker gives us and wrap it entirely with a plastic bag
Big rustic brown loaf of bread with flour on top
Photo by Mondo Pane | Instagram

Fave e Cicoria

Fave e Cicoria is by far the simplest dish that you will find in Bari, and consist only in a fave puree and the bitter taste of chicory. You can prepare this dish for a really low price and still get a lot of benefits for your body. It is also an excellent dish for people who wants to lose weight (faves fill you up fast).

I can give you these recommendations:

  1. Personally, I like to mix the puree fave with the chicory to feel the contrast between the taste of each one. You will not regret doing it.
  2. You could pair this simple dish with a piece of Altamura Bread and add a little bit of olive oil on it.

Pasta al Forno

The Pasta al Forno is a classic baked pasta made with cheese, mortadella, and tomato sauce. There are a lot of versions of this dish, and some of them include bechamel sauce, eggplants, or meatballs. It is a great choice for holidays, events, and Sunday lunches.

Some tips that could help you:

  1. Before you eat Pasta al Forno, make sure it is warm. This will make the tomato sauce dries out and better feel the taste of pasta and the mortadella.
  2. You can keep Pasta al Forno in the fridge for about 2 or 3 days. To make its taste last longer, make sure you use an airtight jar or freeze it. 
  3. The best way to heat this dish is by using a cooking pan and adding some olive oil on that. Then add the pasta for a few minutes over medium-low heat. It is better to heat this dish in the oven and not in the microwave.  
Baked Pasta in a Baking Pan with Tomato Sauce, Cheese and Ham


The Sgagliozze are crunchy polenta fritters that you can find in the streets of Bari Old Town. This snack is one of the most famous street foods in Bari, and it is very easy to make. You can eat it as a starter or as a side dish too.

I can give you these tips:

  1. Make sure you eat Sgagliozze as soon as it is ready, even if it is hot. You will be surprised how much its taste changes when it is cold.
  2. In order to make this snack a little bit more “healthy,” fry it with olive oil instead of the sunflower oil. Also, remember to absorb the oil with a blotting paper.
Squared pancakes sgagliozze in a white plate
Photo by Pizzeria L’antico Arco | Instagram

Zucchine alla Poverella

The Zucchine alla Poverella, which means “Poor Zucchini,” is a simple appetizer made with zucchini, mint, vinegar, and olive oil. You can also pair this dish with some meat, fish or bread. It is simple to prepare, and you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make it.

Some useful tips and ideas:

  1. Make sure you let this dish rest for a few minutes (or hours if you can) before you eat it. This will make the mint flavor feel much more.
  2. You could prepare a delicious pasta with this dish. Simply cook some pasta and mix them with the zucchini, then add a little bit of grated cheese. 
Green Zucchini Slices with Olive Oil and Mint

Cozze Gratinate

The Cozze Gratinate are an appetizer made with mussels, bread crumbs, garlic, and olive oil. This baked dish is so tasty because of the crunchy stuffing that you find inside the shells. You can make this dish in a very short time without spending a lot of money.

Some useful advice:

  1. Similarly to the Tiella Barese, the best time to eat Cozze Gratinate is summer when the mussels are fresh. You can also use them frozen, but the result will not be the same.
  2. I recommend you eat this dish the same day you prepare it. However, you can keep it for a maximum of one day in the fridge.
gratin mussels together on a plate
Photo by Laura Candela | Instagram

Braciole al Sugo

The Braciole al Sugo are horse (or beef) slices rolled up with cheese, parsley, and garlic filling. This dish is covered with a tasty tomato sauce and is known to be a Sunday dish. You can eat it as an appetizer or as a first course.

I can give you these tips:

  1. Make sure to remove the toothpick inside the meat before you eat it. Sometimes you don’t see them because of the sauce, or they are hidden in the flesh.
  2. If you want, you could make delicious orecchiette with the remaining sauce. Simply mix the pasta with the sauce and add some grated cheese.

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