Settle in, as I'm about to tell you the story of the time I ate inside a cave on the coast of Italy. We’ve all seen those restaurants in viral Facebook videos where we think to ourselves, “Who the heck even eats here?” Well there was one in particular that caught my eye not just because of how cool it looked, but because I realized that for once, I was in the same country as this absurdly cool restaurant.

This happened when I was studying abroad in Rome, Italy. I was trying to figure out travel plans for an upcoming weekend and got distracted on Facebook. As if by some twist of fate, one of those videos was at the top of my newsfeed. Here’s the one:

The Restaurant

Ristorante Grotta Palazzese is located in the tiny town of Polignano a Mare, Italy. I flew into Bari (the closest "big" town and cheapest plane ticket from Rome) for the weekend and took the train to get to the restaurant.

Let me just give you a disclaimer. This restaurant is not cheap. I'd recommend taking a look at the menu before committing to making a reservation, let alone flying to this town just to eat here. It is probably the fanciest restaurant I will ever eat in, and the most expensive meal I have ever paid for. But I justified the price of the meal with the super cheap plane ticket and the fact that I did nothing else but go to the beach in Bari the whole weekend.

The Views 

As I've mentioned, this restaurant is INSIDE of a cave. During the day it is naturally lit from the reflection of the water just 70 feet below. At night, its one of the most romantic places I could imagine.I arrived at what I'd like to call the "Golden Hour." Just as the sun was starting to set. It was so beautiful I felt like crying.

The Food

As I mentioned, you should look at the menu before making a reservation and determine if this is something you can splurge on. Be aware that if you order from the "Menu Gran Carta," each person is required to get both a starter and an entree, so things can really add up. 

Here's what I ordered:

Capocollo (traditional local cured meat) and local fresh cheeses)

ham, truffle, prosciutto
Sarah Spiro

Pictured here is burrata, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, bio apple mustard, bio cherry jam, Fumo Oil Frantoio Muraglia, and Modena IGP Vinegar. It could have been the high I was on from the gorgeous sunset, but I'm convinced this is the best meat and cheese plate I've ever had. It was so good I wanted to eat 3 more of them and call it a night.

Beef filet caramelized in Normandy butter with sweet paprika potatoes on a bed of asparagus velouté

Sarah Spiro

This filet was the most tender meat I've ever eaten, I'm talking about almost not even needing a knife. Since this was a classy establishment and I couldn't shove the entire piece into my mouth, the knife was required, but when it came to chewing my food, it melted in my mouth like gelato on a hot, Roman day. 

Caramel parfait, passion fruit essence, yuzu citrus custard and crystallized violet petals

Sarah Spiro

The description of this dessert is a whole lotta words, and it definitely had a whole lotta flavor. I could taste the caramel, passion fruit, citrus, and even the violet all at once. And let me tell you, it was reaaaal good. 

The Verdict

Ocean, Beach, Pier, boat, yacht, beaches, boardwalk, piers, tourist, Travel, Italy, Europe, tourists
Denise Uy

This restaurant is definitely one for the Bucket List. Maybe not at the top, but it's for sure on there. Keep in mind that there isn't anything nearly as exciting as this restaurant in the surrounding towns, but if you're a dedicated foodie like me, this place will be worth the trip.