Getting Fresh at Balnearea Beach

By Mr. TWS

There’s so much to post about the fabulous food in Italy that it’s hard to know where to start. So we thought we’d introduce you to some of the fresh seafood specialties we enjoyed at Balnearea Beach during our road trip through the Puglia region of southern Italy.

"Balneara Beach on the Adriatic Sea in Otranto, Italy"

Balnearea Beach

When we decided to head to Puglia, I was excited for many reasons, especially the thought of beaches and seafood, both in abundance there. On two occasions, I was able to get both, including the experience at Balnearea Beach in Otranto that really stood out. The beach was beautiful and I was able to spend several hours in the Adriatic Sea, though it was quite windy and cool, not the best beach weather we had while in Puglia.

"View of Adriatic Sea from table at Balnearea Beach restaurant, Otranto, Italy"

View from our table at Balnearea Beach restaurant

Balnearea Beach also had a very nice restaurant with a patio dining area on the second floor, providing a great view of the beach and the Adriatic. The use of the beaches in Italy is interesting; there are many private beaches all along the coast, each with their own color of identically-colored umbrellas. I really liked the way the hundreds of umbrellas for each location looked. I never tired of these scenes of the almost-white sand, the beautiful blues and greens of the Adriatic, and the patches of identically-colored umbrellas common among the 700km of Puglia’s coastline.

But back to the meal itself. It was a wonderful treat and one of my favorite food experiences in Italy.

"A delicious assortment of seafood, bread and tomatoes at Balnearea Beach, Otranto, Italy"

A delicious assortment of fresh seafood, bread and cheese at Balnearea Beach

Fish, fish, and more fish

We were served platters of tuna, salmon, mussels, calamari, Puglia red shrimp, shrimp, sea bass, and scampi — and I’m sure I’m missing some. It was all fresh and mostly prepared raw, often with fresh tomatoes and arugula. The fish was locally caught, so “fresh” meant less than 24 hours. The food came dish after dish and in my enthusiasm to devour everything, I unfortunately took only a few photos and no notes. I do remember the wonderful presentation and believe that the descriptions below are correct.

"Puglia scampi with lobster-like claws at Balnearea Beach, Otranto, Italy"

Scampi with lobster-like claws

The newest item for me and most interesting were the scampi dishes. They looked like large prawns with the heads on except they had lobster-like (but thinner) claws. They were served both fresh (raw) and grilled and they were awesome. Our local driver/guide, Carlo Romano, convinced me to try sucking the meat of the head part, but I didn’t find it particularly good or bad, so didn’t try it a second time.

"Grilled scampi at Balnearea Beach"

Grilled scampi

Among the dishes was this sesame crusted fish with pepper sauce. I believe it was sea bass. Sesame is one of my favorites and was a perfect complement to the fish.

"Sesame crusted sea bass with pepper sauce at Balnearea Beach ristorante in Puglia"

Sesame crusted sea bass with pepper sauce

The following dish was raw fish with tomatoes and arugula, all very, very fresh.

"Raw fish with tomatoes and arugula at Balnearea Beach, Otranto"

Raw fish with tomatoes and arugula

Although it wasn’t local, this poached salmon was beautifully prepared, with strawberries as a nice unconventional garnish.

"Tasty, but not local salmon dish served at Balnearea Beach, Otranto, Italy"

Tasty salmon

Fresh, raw tuna with arugula was another of the tasty seafood dishes.

"Fresh raw tuna with arugula at Balnearea Beach in Puglia"

Raw tuna with arugula

It’s not all about fish

We were also served healthy portions of bread with fresh tomatoes and burrata, a special mozzarella common to Puglia (seen in the assortment photo above). I took only one small bite of bread and cheese to save room, but Sweeney pulled up the slack on these items.

"Fresh bread and tomatoes at the ristorante of Balnearea Beach, Otranto, Italy"

Fresh bread and tomatoes

Always room for dessert

After all of this, I amazingly still had room for dessert — fresh fruit and a slushy lemon sorbet.

"Fresh fruit for dessert at Balnearea Beach ristorante, Otranto"

Fresh fruit for dessert

"Cool sorbet on a warm day in Puglia at Balnearea Beach, Otranto"

Slushy lemon sorbet

It was a wonderful day with three of my favorite things — a beautiful beach, fresh seafood, and Sweeney — not necessarily in that order.

"Relaxing on Balnearea Beach, Puglia"

Sweeney’s view of the Adriatic

This is just an introduction to our Puglia experience, made possible by Puglia Promozione. There’s more to come about this region’s memorable food, people, places and events.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

44 thoughts on “Getting Fresh at Balnearea Beach

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      It was great. Really craving that now that we’re back. I don’t know anywhere where we could get that freshness. The burrata is good but the seafood is tops for me. Thanks for the comment.

  1. Jennifer

    Aren’t the scampi awesome?! We have them here in the north too and they are delicious just grilled. The beaches look nice there. We’ve not been that far south in Italy. Yet.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Early morning here and just the thought of grilled scampi has my mouth watering. The beaches were awesome. We visited and drove along a lot of the coast and they were everywhere. Both Adriatic and Ionian were beautiful. Thanks for the comments.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks for your comments. Trust me, not our best photos. The real thing was way more enticing. I’d go back just for the seafood but there were many other things as well and we’ll be posting on those soon. Thanks for the comments.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Hope you get to visit. I think it was my first scampi, at least completely whole. It seemed he freshest seafood I can remember. We visited several of the fish markets on the coast at Bari and the diversity and quantity was amazing. I’ve never seen so many mussels and they were delicious too. Also part of this meal. Thanks for commenting.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Hungry maybe. Writing and commenting has done the same to me for several days. I’ve got a real hankering. Thanks for commenting.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      They were great. There’s lots more to write about the food on our trip. Both Puglia and Romagna.. What I really liked was the philosophy by so many to use fresh, local food, and choose dishes that used what was in season and available. Thanks for commenting.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      The picture doesn’t do justice to the view; I was so excited to get going with the food. Sweeney was situated just right.- close to the water, good view. What a beautiful day. I love beaches and this one was special.

  2. budget jan

    This is the first time I have ever thought of beach umbrellas as being an attractive part of a beach – but I see your point. I love seafood so this lunch would have won me over. I tried scampi in New Zealand for the first time last year and it is now my favourite – but so expensive !

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      We stopped at a number of fresh seafood stores on the coast and I didn’t check to see what the prices were; I was so overwhelmed at the diversity and amounts. I’ll bet they had 10,000 mussels. The comment on the umbrellas made me reflect. I guess I’ve always thought of big shade umbrellas like these characterizing the height of relaxation. Pristine beaches are beautiful. But I did enjoy seeing the patches of brightly, like-colored umbrellas. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Marcia

    Thankfully, I had dinner (fish, as it turns out) or I’d be salivating. Well, I’m still salivating. Everything looks so fresh and that view of the ocean from the restaurant, I bet it was hard to tear yourself away! Thanks for linking up!

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      It was hard to leave the table, the beach and Italy. It was very delicious and very fresh. Thanks for the comments.

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      I’ve had good fresh seafood in many places. None that I recall this good and this fresh. Thanks for the comments.

  4. Jemma

    This made me miss my beach vacations last summer. And what do you call those things from your restaurant view. I guess the beach would look much better without those.
    I really love seafood and now I’m craving for shrimps and fish again!

    1. Mr. TWS Post author

      Thanks for commenting. I’m not sure which things you mean in the restaurant view. On the beach are the blue and yellow umbrellas, collapsed closer and opened near the shore. There are also folded lounge chairs. The only other thing I notice in the view is the wind break glass etched with a palm tree on the right and sail boat on the left. I’ve been craving that fresh seafood since we left.

  5. Devraj Singh

    I can strongly recommend this place! Italy sea food it was awesome . My entire family with enjoy a lot with sea food .And the place was incredible and If I get an another opportunity definitely I will go over there !!!

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  7. Leigh

    Yes to the sesame crusted sea bass. I’ve had some ceviche I’ve really enjoyed but I’m not normally a raw fish person. Looks like quite the spectacular trip you had. Was the beach packed as that’s how I envision beaches in Italy?

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