Rating: 8 / 10
Having wandered the unspeakably majestic alleyways and crevices of Matera, my bones needed sustenance. Panicifio Paoluccio was high on my list of prior research to try, and luckily I managed to get there moments before closing for their afternoon respite.
The owner was busy outside explaining dough to some tourists, which gave me plenty of time for some clandestine photography without making him feel uncomfortable. He returned, radiant to have one final customer before closing and recommended both the tomato and plain focaccia. Being a less fervent fan of the plain type, I almost skipped it, but his imploring look told me otherwise.
With a slice of each nestled under my arm I sought shelter. The sky was beginning to bruise once again and I feared being caught in a rainshower with fresh food in thin wrappings.
A small arch to a locked gate provided optimum cover and a shield from the persistent sellers on the main street. I unwrapped the tomato version first and sunk my teeth in. This guy wasn't messing around. It wasn't as good as the stuff I ate in Bari, but this was pretty damn close. Great tangy sauce, wonderfully crispy yet still textured bread and at a euro a slice, you're laughing.
Next up was my hesitancy piece. I made sure I finished ever morsel of the tomato one incase the plain was underwhelming as it was too late to head back and buy another. Lucky for me the plain focaccia was spectacular. I've never tasted such a simple but perfectly seasoned piece before. I smashed it in under a minute and gathered my tired legs to stand, find a trashcan, and wander up the hill home to rest after thorough exploration of a wonderful town, and partaking in the most delightful focaccia within miles.
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"