Abruzzo’s most populous city, Pescara, has a reputation as a brash new city, however its history pre-dates the Roman Empire. The Lombards, Spaniards, Turks and French have all attacked or ruled over the centuries.
As a key Adriatic port city, much of the old medieval centre was bombed and destroyed during WWII. It has the appearance of a new city. Luckily, there is a wealth of tradition here and enough of a vibrant young population to put Pescara on a culinary par with better known cities.
The Romans dubbed it Aternum, which was also the name of the river that divides the northern and southern parts of the city. It wasn’t until 12th century that Pescara was known by something resembling its current name – then it was Piscaria, meaning ‘abundant in fish’. I visited in October, after the summer high-demand period when fish stocks are low, so luckily, I was able to taste some of this bounty.
When it comes to the old and the new of food in Pescara, you are spoiled for choice. I was wowed by the few restaurant meals I had and the flavours in one establishment were as edgy as any I have had in the ‘new world’.
Twice I lunched at Berardo Caffé, a big open air establishment at the beach end of Corso Umberto I. The front of the building is a popular coffee, cake and gelato place, and the back, a restaurant with just a few choices and specials on offer.
The setting is modern, but the treatment of the food was quite authentic and true to the region known for seafood.
There was a selection of different vegetables on display and one day I simply needed veggies. So I indulged in the grilled pepper, zucchini, fennel and chicory accompanied by the delicious homemade bread and a glass of local Ceresuola wine. This wine is rosè in colour but has none of the lolly sweetness of some rosè wines. It is made from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape but spends less time on the skin to achieve its beautiful hue.
Another day, I dined with friend Amanda on the timeless classic Frittura di Pesce, a delicately battered then deep-fried mixed seafood dish. We followed with spaghetti vongole (my death bed meal) tossed with fresh cherry tomatoes that had just been lightly crushed. The vongole (clams) at Berardo were pan steamed with the tomatoes then the pasta was tossed in and warmed together to create a lovely emulsification. And veggies, more veggies.
One evening I was lucky to catch up with the sister of a my friend Sandra. Sandra runs the wonderful La Cucina di Sandra in Melbourne, Australia and she and sister Paola are natives of Pescara. Paola and her beau Simone were fortunately free one evening while we were in Pescara and suggested a restaurant I’d had my eye on! So with my friend Amanda, we joined Paola and Simone at La Baracaccia, around the corner from the Esplanade Hotel.
What we experienced next was nothing short of fabulous. The restaurant inside appeared quite old school formal and the service was impeccable. However, the food was as modern and fresh as any I have eaten anywhere. So I’ll let the pictures tell the story.
For years I have treated Pescara as a transit hub, but from now on I vow to go to Pescara each trip to Abruzzo and try more of the delicious offerings.
I haven’t been to Pescara in years. My uncle was a prominent lawyer in the city and his wife owned a fur shop. We used to get gelato at Berardo. It’s nice to know life there is still humming along
Yes, Domenica, still in early October the weather was sunny during the day if cool at night, and gelato was ‘the go’ as we say in Australia. It wasn’t crowded like it would have been in August but still lively and very friendly. I’m going back to Italy for all of May in Puglia then two weeks in Abruzzo in June. Can’t wait to try some more fish dishes. I have yet to eat on a Trabocco!
Jovina, It’s amazing what you can do with an iPhone! The food was so beautifully presented. MLT
I can’t get used to raw prawns, but it certainly looks inventive.
So, not a ceviche fan Debra, or is it just raw prawns?
Loved reading your Pescara story, of course and seeing my sister in your post. I love my home town and it certainly has lots to offer. So happy you had a brilliant time with Paola and Simone. Let them take you to a Trabocco for dinner, they have friends who own one, you will have a stunning time, if they are open when you are there. Great shots and post.
Thanks for reading and commenting Sandra. I’ll be in Sulmona, Manoppello, Pescara and Roseto during the last days of May and into early June so I’ll contact Paola. Would love a Trabocco visit! I only scratched the surface of Pescara…
I have a friend whose family is from Pescara. She’s always raving about the food, and now I can see why. The baby squid in particular looks amazing!
Thanks for reading Frank. Yes, Pescara is quite the foodie hotspot and I look forward to getting back soon. Visit your friend!!!
I am so happy I will be visiting for first time, in July 2016, I am very sure my son and I we will enjoy it!