Lo Scoglio delle Sirene: A Mermaid in Gallipoli, Puglia
It’s 8pm. Beaches, tables, smiles, clear evening skies, fresh air. Everywhere we go are found delicious and inviting smells escaping from kitchens. We're in Gallipoli, one of the southern points of the region of Puglia, the heel of the boot. Pull up a chair and get ready to savor this evening’s menu. You might even meet a mermaid. Tall, blonde, elegant, and sitting to our right. You included, we are three seated at the stunning restaurant, Lo Scoglio delle Sirene, located in the historic center. The breeze is light and the candles are all lit. Alice, our waitress, helps us through the evening’s selections. First, the wine: Mjere 1997, a fresh and invigorating red that goes well with heavier seafood dishes. Made from 10% Malvasia Leccese grapes and 90% Negroamaro grapes, this red from Salento is not to be missed. For antipasti, we begin with alici marinate (anchovies under Pugliese oil) and insalata caprese (fresh mozzarella and tomato salad), two fresh and light dishes. We follow our antipasti with two traditional dishes from Puglia, polipo alla pignata (octopus cooked in terracotta) and orecchiette fatte in casa con le cozze (homemade orecchiette pasta served with mussels from Taranto). The ingredients are as fresh as can be as it is custom that merely thirty minutes before local restaurants open, all the seafood is purchased at the local fish auction at 7pm sharp (see the photo). Fresh is never a question. To finish the evening, we enjoy homemade gelato served with a eye-opening after-dinner liquor, mirtillo, made from blueberries. But who is this mermaid? That beauty sitting at the table by our side? She’d be Daryl Hannah, the unforgettable mermaid from the 1980’s hit movie Splash. Like us, Daryl Hannah chose Gallipoli as her vacation destination for its unforgettable cuisine, outstanding scenery, and splendid restaurants. Before heading off on an after dinner stroll, we asked Daryl if she chose the restaurant for its name. Smiling, she mentioned she “just liked the candles.” Certainly the candles were beautiful, but this mermaid was destined for this restaurant, Lo Scoglio delle Sirene. After all, in English the names means: The Mermaids' Rock.