Day 9: Avigliano Trattoria da Tuccio, Cancellara, Marilisa and her “acquasala”

Seafood dishes are not Basilicata’s specialities but Avigliano is known for their salted cod traditions. Osteria Gagliardi came highly recommended. Unfortunately, the owner, Stefano, wasn’t too keen to share his receipes. When we arrived at his restaurant, Stefano claimed our presence hadn’t been confirmed…. We were thus obliged to leave.

Things always happen for a reason.

My cameraman Giovanni suggested we try a low-key, trattoria that has been around for over 15 years instead; « Da Tuccio », is popular for its « baccalà » salted cod receipes. A few minutes later we knocked on this restaurant’s door, which was opened by Tuccio’s son. He greeted us with the most generous of smiles in spite of the fact that our visit was unplanned and spontaneous.


da tuccio


When the crew appeared in the kitchen unannounced, his sister, the senior chef was taken a little aback. Nonetheless, she quickly prepared an appetizer alla Tuccio: « insalata di baccala”, a cod salad and as a main course: « parmigiana al baccalà »  (yes, she used eggplant and cheese with fish) as well as a second course « baccalà con pomodori e uvetta passa”.  No translation needed. We ate to our heart’s content.

da Tuccio postcard

It’s mid afternoon. We have finally arrived at the last destination of our nine-day culinary tour, Cancellara.

anita cancellara2acquasalanaita

Marilisa and her family, who produce their own olive oil and own a factory, greeted us. Marilisa was enthusiastic to talk about not only the importance of the use of a quality olive oil when cooking but also its vital ingredient for; “l’acquasala” a peasant dish that until a 20 years ago, would never have been considered part of Basilicata’s traditional repertoire of receipes. There are several variation of l’acquasale, but Marilisa was taught the original version by her mother. It basically consists of salted boiling water, dried bread, fried white onions, poached eggs and dried red pepper powder.  Never tasted anything like it!