Rating: 8 / 10
The bartender at Roger The Club pleaded with me to go to La Latteria. He mentioned that they had the best local meat dishes in Matera, but also repeated about five times "Do NOT forget to order the bruschetta, it is the best, maybe in Italy, seriously, do NOT forget".
Grateful to find out it was barely twenty meters away, since the rain had been falling hard, we slid over and managed to secure a table in the foyer room which ended up being quite an uncosy, loud affair, but the back dining room was filled to the brim and we didn't have reservations.
Happy to at least have a roof over our heads we proceeded to ask the waiter what he recommended. His first answer was "Well, whatever you order you MUST eat the Bruschetta". Ok, we get it. Pecorino cream & caramelized onion compote was chosen. I was informed that the local black pezzente sausage with lentil puree was a winner, and my co-diner was pointed towards the lucanian pork capocollo. We ordered some roast potatoes and vegetables to share.
The suspence was killing me.
I shall attempt to keep the flattery brief:
Biting into the first corner of that bruschetta was a religious experience. The crunch of the bread, the creaminess of the cheese and the intensely earthy tart/sweet flavour of those onions was monumental. We had to take a breather just to unload superlatives before having another bite. This was once in a lifetime eating. The humble bruschetta had been transformed into a vessel of divine love.
Dizzy with grief that this would never be a daily occurence, the mains came in and slapped us again. My pork sausage with lentils was heavy on the salt but crispy and meaty and wonderfully tasty. The capocollo was tender and fatty in all the right ways, and the star of the dish was the slices of fresh orange with dried chillis scattered like spicy confetti. I have never seen that combination before and it was a knock-out.
The table soon became an altar, the restaurant a shrine and our rituals of prayer were to keep mouths moving and stomachs working whilst the high priest of earthly delights stood above and muttered "You're not full, another fork, another spoonful". My soul was at breaking point when the bill was summoned, paid, and out into the wild gust of a basilicata rain shower the true extent of euphoria was realised as our sins were washed away and the joy settled to a deep, deep contentment.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"