Monopoli is a small seafront city in Italy’s southern province of Puglia and a place that I was fortunate enough to call my home for two whole months during autumn 2020.
While there were plenty of great things to do and discover in Monopoli, from long walks around the historic old town to hunting out the best beaches and coves, it’s safe to say that eating my way around the city’s many fantastic restaurants was definitely one of the highlights of my stay.
Like most of Italy, food is an important part of the culture and daily life in Puglia, with an extreme amount of love and care going into cooking, and families and friends gathering to enjoy long wine-fuelled meals together on a regular basis. Something which was definitely noticeable in Monopoli.
Discover the best regional dishes and foods to try in Puglia with my full Puglia food guide.
The best restaurants in Monopoli
Over two months I was able to try my fair share of restaurants in Monopoli, so narrowing down my favourites was an extremely difficult task.
But after much deliberation, I’ve finally managed to round up my top picks for where to eat in Monopoli;
Note: Most restaurants in Puglia change their menus regularly in keeping with what fresh seasonal produce is available at the time. Therefore, I’ve tried to stay clear of recommending individual dishes and instead talked about their overall food quality, atmosphere, location, service and other factors.
Monopoli restaurants by the sea
Visit for: the best restaurant with a view in Monopoli.
Coming in at number one on my list of best restaurants in Monopoli is my absolute favourite spot in the city and the place I would highly recommend if you’re only visiting for a day.
Located a short walk along the coast away from the historic center, Porto Rosso is a beautiful seafront restaurant overlooking a sandy bay of the same name.
Not only does the restaurant have the most fantastic views over the water and back towards the city, but you also get to pick between two different styles of dining.
Inside the main restaurant you can order from the full menu, offering antipasto, pasta, fresh seafood dishes and desserts, while the outdoor terrace is a more casual pizzeria and bar, with a range of pizzas and salads as well as a great cocktail list.
In true southern Italian style, the only way to enjoy Porto Rosso is by taking a long leisurely lunch accompanied by a few glasses of local wine. The best way to truly experience the laid-back Puglian lifestyle in all of its sun-drenched glory.
Address: Via Tommaso Moro, 2, 70043 Monopoli.
Visit for: fresh seafood and spritz by the sea.
MezzoPieno is a small waterside cafe and restaurant with a spacious outdoor terrace overlooking popular Porta Vecchia beach on the edge of the historic center.
The simple menu focuses on fresh seafood dishes, however be sure to ask if there are any off-menu specialties or vegetarian options that day – the chef often has something extra hidden up his sleeve.
Even if you’re not looking for somewhere to eat, MezzoPieno is one of the best places in Monopoli to enjoy an afternoon aperitif overlooking the water. On weekends during the summer the restaurant even plays host to live bands and DJs and is a popular spot for locals to meet up with friends.
Address: Largo Portavecchia, 70043 Monopoli.
Visit for: Sunday lunch and a beach party.
Probably not one for those with limited time in Monopoli, Cala Cerasa isn’t just a lovely seaside restaurant but an entire day out.
Only open on Sundays during the summer months (between April and October), the restaurant is located around a 40 minute walk or 10 minute drive from Monopoli’s historic center along the coast.
It’s hard to miss this local hotspot, with its colourful collection of paraphernalia outside, including a large doorway leading to the water, traditional bright blue fishing boat, rainbow seating and pastel-coloured campervan complete with a flamingo surfboard. Be sure to have your camera at the ready!
Head to Cala Cerasa for an alfresco lunch of delicious Mediterranean dishes, followed by an afternoon on the connecting beach and finally a sunset aperitif at the restaurant’s vibrant American bar which is open through the late afternoon and evening with live music and DJ sets.
Cala Cerasa goes from humble waterside family restaurant to buzzing beach club popular with the city’s younger crowd in the space of just a few hours so makes for a fun day out from the city.
Address: Via Procaccia, 70043 Monopoli.
Il Gelato per Passione
Visit for: the best gelato, crepes and waffles to enjoy on the beach.
While Il Gelato per Passione is actually a gelateria, don’t miss out on trying some of their other delicious sweet treats which include crepes, pancakes, waffles and soufflé. I can’t even count the number of times I went back for the Nutella crepe!
Plus, the dessert parlour is located just seconds from Cala Porta Vecchia, Monopoli’s central sandy beach, making it the perfect place to grab an ice cream or dessert to enjoy sitting by the water on a sunny day.
Address: Via Portavecchia, 6, 70043 Monopoli.
Restaurants in Monopoli Centro Storico
Vini & Panini
Visit for: the best light lunch in Monopoli.
While most restaurants in Monopoli offer their full dinner menu throughout the day, Vini & Panini is one of the few places in the historic center where you can get a simple light lunch instead.
As the name suggests, the popular restaurant and wine bar serves a selection of tasty panini (sandwiches) as well as antipasto platters of local meats and cheeses. Their parma ham, stracciatella cheese and sundried tomato panino is my favourite lunch in Monopoli!
There’s also a fantastic local wine selection.
Another highlight of Vini & Panini is its location right on Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, a bustling square in the heart of Monopoli’s Centro Storico, with a delightful flora-covered outdoor terrace which is the perfect spot for people watching on a busy day.
Address: Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, 34, 70043 Monopoli.
Visit for: a romantic date night.
While there are a few options within the popular Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi for dinner – trust me I tried them all – my favourite has to be Locanda Indelli, the hotel restaurant of 4* Hotel Palazzo Indelli.
You can either choose a table outside to soak up the ambiance of the vibrant surrounding piazza or head inside to the main restaurant which sits within an ancient room with white stone walls, low arched ceilings and dim lighting.
With the cosy and traditional setting, plus exquisite personal service (the chef even came out to say hi) and an extensive wine selection, Locanda Indelli just oozes rustic Italian style and romance.
And that’s before we even get to the food. All of the restaurant’s dishes are in keeping with the local culinary traditions of Puglia, with a variety of fantastic seafood options and delicious plates of pasta made using only the freshest seasonal products.
This is definitely a place to opt for the full 4 courses!
Like with any restaurant around busy Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, you’ll want to call ahead and book your dinner reservation during peak times.
Address: Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, 27, 70043 Monopoli.
Trattoria da Pierino L’Inglese
Visit for: best seafood set menu in Monopoli.
Tucked away just off the corner of Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, Trattoria da Pierino L’Inglese is a charming family-run spot which has been operating in Monopoli for over 50 years.
The typical Puglian restaurant is renowned for its fantastic fresh fish and seafood. Just ask for the great value seafood set menu and you’ll be treated to a whole variety of tasty dishes without even having to glance at the menu – perfect for those who can never decide what to order!
Being a popular spot with locals, there’s always a friendly and familiar atmosphere at Trattoria da Pierino L’Inglese, with helpful servers such as lovely Cosimo (say hi for me) guiding you through your meal.
The restaurant doesn’t take card so bring cash.
Address: Via Amalfitana, 14, 70043 Monopoli.
The King Street Food
Visit for: the best breakfast in Monopoli.
While I’ve awarded it the title of best restaurant in Monopoli for breakfast, The King is actually one of the only places open in Monopoli for breakfast. Italian’s aren’t huge going out for breakfast people.
But that doesn’t make it any less great.
The King’s large outdoor terrace in the heart of old town was somewhere that I spent many, many mornings getting some work done over coffee and breakfast during my time living in Monopoli.
The King serves a few different breakfast options, but their pancakes and puccia are definitely the best choices. Savory breakfast lovers will enjoy the crispy bacon and egg puccia sandwich, while those with a sweet tooth shouldn’t miss the deliciously indulgent Nutella pancake stack.
Address: Via Orazio Comes, 31, 70043 Monopoli.
Visit for: the best value set menu in Monopoli.
This beautiful Puglian bistro and lounge is located is right in the heart of the historic center and is one of the best value restaurants in Monopoli, because for just €25 per person you’ll get a proper Italian 4 course meal, a glass of wine each, bottled water for the table and cover charge included.
The menu isn’t extensive, with just one seafood option and one meat option per course and a set chef’s special dessert, however, Apluvia definitely opts for quality over quantity so you’re pretty much guaranteed to love whichever you order.
Address: Via Orazio Comes, 25, 70043 Monopoli.
Bella Blu Gelateria
Visit for: the most indulgent gelato in Monopoli.
Returning once again to Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi, Bella Blu is my favourite gelateria in Monopoli’s historic center and a must-visit on a sunny day exploring the city.
The quirky dessert parlour serves a great variety of gelato, including indulgent flavours such as Nutella, Forero Rocher and Kinder which chocolate lovers like myself are guaranteed to love!
Bella Blu also has the best range of dairy-free gelato and gluten-free cones in town.
The best part? The centrally located gelateria remains open until 2am every day of the week, making it the go-to place for an end of the night gelato after a late dinner or a few too many glasses of wine.
Address: Piazza G. Garibaldi, 7/8, 70043 Monopoli.
Restaurants in Monopoli’s residential areas
Visit for: the best panzerotti in Monopoli.
A casual little neighbourhood hotspot which you almost definitely wouldn’t stumble across by accident, the unsuspecting Il Ritrovo can be found around a 10 minute walk away from the historic center and seafront in a more residential part of the city.
However, any local will tell you that the detour is 100% worth it for the most delicious panzarotti (popular Puglian fried pizza turnovers) in all of Monopoli.
Plus, at just €3 each, Il Ritrovo’s panzarotti are one of the best value dinners in town. You could even treat yourself to a sweet Nutella one for dessert too.
Pizza and panzerotti are only served at Il Ritrovo after 7pm.
Address: Via U. Rattazzi, 69, 70043 Monopoli.
Visit for: creative modern dishes and a great pizza menu.
Filo d’olio is a relatively new restaurant and pizzeria in Monopoli, sitting just on the edge of the historic center with a younger and more modern vibe than a lot of the restaurants you’ll find in the old town while still respecting the traditions of the region.
Located down a charming little side street away from the main tourist route, you can either dine in the rustic yet stylish indoor restaurant or on the colourful terrace outside.
Filo d’olio serves its own innovative take on traditional Apulian and Mediterranean cuisine, with a variety of flavoursome and beautifully presented dishes fit for a gourmet restaurant, but with the price tag and atmosphere of somewhere far more modest.
To start, go for the ‘Percorso di Puglia’ which will have your entire table filled with delicious traditional antipasto dishes to share, while the restaurant’s creative pizza menu is one of the best in the city – try an unusual closed Puglian ‘Croccante’ (crunchy) pizza. Plus don’t miss the signature crumble for dessert.
The restaurant is only open for dinner on weekdays and for both lunch and dinner on weekends.
Address: Via Mulini, 42/46, 70043 Monopoli.
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