Victoria Purcell discovers authentic Apulian cuisine at Pulia, a new Italian deli that provides an oasis of calm – and Italian treats galore – near Borough Market
Half the fun of Borough Market is its hustle and bustle. Throngs of hungry, hungover locals jostle with snap-happy tourists, clamouring over the artisan breads, hog roasts, cow-heart tomatoes and mulled cider. But there are those days when a calmer, more grown-up approach to the feeding frenzy would be nice. And now the calm has arrived, in the form of Pulia, just a few hundred metres from the madness of Borough Market on Stoney Street. The new Italian deli concept that brings you the best produce from Puglia in southern Italy, known for its simplicity, quality and authenticity. It’s bright, airy and it has plenty of tables.
The décor here is a delight. A white wash of calm, the glass-topped tables encase pretty olive branches, the white-painted furniture is gently aged and there are shelves of antipasti, beautiful bottles of flavoured olive oil and bags of artisan pasta. There are even banquettes where you can slouch with a beautifully decorated cappuccino and a croissant.
The central deli counter is brimming with colourful produce – focaccia, pizza rustica, salads, cheese and cured ham, all of an Apulian persuasion, plus oodles of fresh fruit and veg for smoothies (the carrot, apple and ginger juice is a real pick-me-up). We embarked on a feast of varied Apulian delicacies on a brunch-time visit (Pulia is open from breakfast through to early evening), starting with a fantastic parmigiana – thin layers of fried aubergine with tomato and mozzarella that’s coated with parmesan and baked. Naughty but oh-so-nice.
We moved on to a huge burrata parcel, beautifully decorated with rocket, spinach, three colours of tomatoes, a handful of olives and, like everything else, lashings of olive oil. Considered very much an artisan cheese, burrata is created from the scraps of the mozzarella-making process combined with cream and then wrapped in a solid mozzarella shell. It’s absolutely delicious. We also tried a very good panzerotto (like a small calzone pizza made with softer, thinner dough, filled with tomatoes and mozzarella and deep fried) and a couple of potato croquettes (a hearty smoked scamorza cheese version and an unusual mint and mozzarella combo – the jury’s still out on that one).
Be sure to sample the pasticciotto before you leave, or pick up a few to go. A little like a custard pie, but a heck of a lot lighter and tastier, they come with a custard or cherry filling, or chocolate flavoured with a hazelnut cream filling. They’re all utterly delicious and not overly sweet. Add a dollop of cream or drizzle them with mandarin olive oil – and buy a bottle of the latter on your way out, it’s heavenly.
A delicious, on-the-go bite or a feast of Apulian delicacies
What to eat…
The burrata here is excellent. Share one with a friend
What to know…
Get there just before midday to beat the crowds
36 Stoney Street, Borough SE1 9LB; pulia.it/en