Of all the restaurants in Ostuni, Acquasale must surely be one of the most beautiful. Built into the white walls of the old town, the garden and terrace are densely planted, creating an oasis from the bedlam of tourists outside. Pretty glass pendants and fabrics are cleverly used to extend the luxurious finish. Inside is twinkly, in an extravagant but tasteful way. The service is equally charming, on a visit last week in the height of the season, the waiters were calm and patient, practising their excellent English, and our table was visited by the owner to make sure everything was to our liking.
And then there’s the food. We shied away from the antipasta della casa as our appetites weren’t up for it. Instead we enjoyed individual starters of fish tartare, a superbly fresh mix of seabass, salmon and another mystery fish that didn’t translate; a prawn, avocado and bacon salad; and the star of the show, octopus on fave mash. Although the fave was, in truth, somewhat wintery for this sultry summer evening, it was delicious. I want to know how they got the octopus so incredibly melt-in-the-mouth. And at the same time slightly char-grilled. Definitely the star of the show.
Again, sadly, we by-passed the primis, a selection of creative pastas and gnocchi. The secondi in contrast were disappointingly simple, but exquisitely turned out. Tuna seared to perfection, caramelised on the outside and sweetly pink in the middle, served on rocket with balsamic, tagliata style. And swordfish, again, simple but perfectly cooked. A couple of bottles of Fiano followed by a desert wine completed our extravaganza. Undoubtedly one of the largest restaurant bills that we’ve had all summer, but a wonderful evening and a meal to remember.