Italian street food is in a class of its own. Grab and go eating is part of the Italian culture and you'll frequently see folks tucking into something as they walk down the street, and that's because most street food in Italy is just too tasty to wait until you get home to eat it.
The street food items you can get in Bari are the sort of traditional rustic takeaway snacks that have been eaten in the Puglia region for years. Forget about finding pop-ups and food trucks, they're practically non-existent and appear only once a year. Most street food vendors in Bari operate out of small or medium-sized premises where, at main meal times, there'll be lines of people waiting to get their hands on a slice of focaccia barese, a piece of pizza al taglio, or a crispy deep-fried panzerotti.
When there's a line somewhere, that means only one thing, the food is great so get in line, wait your turn, and you'll be served a true Italian treat. Eating Italian street food can get messy though and you'll need both hands to do it. Being stuck with your bags will be nothing but a hindrance. Solve the problem by leaving your bags at a Bounce luggage storage facility in Bari. They'll be safely stored in a security-tagged and insured luggage locker and well away from getting stained by any wayward drips of tomato sauce.
Best Street Food Vendors In Bari
Panificio Fiore on the Strada Palazzo di Citta is a must-visit when you're in Bari. This bakery has the reputation of producing the best focaccia barese in the city and it's a reputation that's well-deserved.
Panifiocio Fiore has been trading almost as long as the premises it's housed in has been built and is one of the city's historic bakeries. Don't expect any modern sophistication here as it's a traditional bakery with more iconography plastered everywhere than there's really room for on the walls.
What makes the focaccia barese at the Panificio Fiore exceptionally good is the way they bake it in a charcoal oven. It adds something extra to this pizza-like Puglian specialty which has mashed potato included in the dough. A slice of their famous focaccia barese topped with sundried tomatoes and olives finished with a sprinkling of sea salt and oregano really is one of the best street foods you can get in Bari.
The Big Panzerotto
The Big Panzerotto is modern Italian street food that, as the name implies, specializes in panzerotti. The Big Panzerotto's premises on the Via Sergio Pansini may be decked out in aluminum, stainless steel, and neutral contemporary colors and could be a fast food joint anywhere, but the food they serve is one hundred percent authentic Italian.
While typical panzerotti may look like a mini calzone pizza, they're not. Panzerotti are a type of pasty made from thin pastry dough, stuffed with a multitude of different ingredients, and then deep-fried until it's golden brown and crispy.
Panzerotti are perfect for eating on the go, but depending on what filling you've chosen, can be quite messy to eat. As well as panzerotti, they make a superb selection of croquettes, arancini, and mozzarella balls. It's pretty much all deep-fried so it's not the street food to go for if you're watching your waistline, but don't feel guilty, go hiking in Bari and you'll easily burn off the extra calories.
Da Maria's Sgagliozze
If you're taking a leisurely evening stroll along the Strada del Carmine and see a crowd gathering, that means you'll be in time to watch the nightly cookery show at Da Maria's Sgagliozze. To call it a culinary spectacle is probably incorrect as it's more of an attention-grabbing outdoor kitchen where the food served to the few streetside tables is cooked.
Another reason a crowd gathers around this minuscule restaurant is to get their hands on a bag of sgagliozze, deep fried polenta chips, and a portion of orecchiette. The making of the orecchiette is a show in itself that's usually conducted by one of the older females of the family sitting in the doorway.
Making the orecchiette is a laborious task and so is the making and cooking of the sgagliozze. Once you've tried sgagliozze, you'll realize why they're a popular Bari street food and why lots of Bari locals are also standing in line to get some. Maria's are the best sgagliozze you could hope to get and as far as the most famous street food in Bari goes, quite possibly rank number one.
Mattarello Street Food
Making the best panzerotti in Bari is a very serious business and one that is incredibly competitive. Mattarello Street Food may be relatively new to the Bari food scene, but they're already making their mark with these and everything else on their menu.
Mattarello Street Food occupies a restaurant on Via Giuseppe Bozzi which is just a couple of minutes on foot from the seafront promenade. It's another takeaway place that's bucking the old-fashioned décor trends too, with a super smart and ultra-modern gray and dark blue, uncluttered interior.
Top choices for take-out food at Mattarello Street Food are their panzerotti, their pucce which is a type of filled pastry that resembles a bread roll, their salads, and if you're craving a really meaty juicy bite, their massive burgers.
Rosticceria Il Bischero
If you're in need of some substantial, drop into the Rosticceria Il Bischero on the Via Cardassi where they have a non-self service buffet-style counter loaded with pre-prepared dishes. It's a popular place with locals and that's always a good indication of quality food.
The way the Rosticceria Il Bischero works is very similar to a Spanish asadero and you're charged for your food either by individual item or if it's a cooked dish with sauce, by weight.
There's an almost endless choice of food at the Rosticceria Il Bischero and they have a good selection of both meat and vegetarian dishes. One super street food they make here is rotolo de frittata. Rotolo di frittata is a thin omelet rolled around other ingredients like spinach and ricotta. The omelets often have extra vegetables such as courgettes or carrots added to them, so they're a healthy choice.
Other great things you'll find on the menu at the Rosticceria Il Bischero are individual focaccias called pinse, a massive variety of pasta, chicken, fish, and meat dishes, and fantastic vegetable dishes like caponata, and around 100 other items that are just too many to list.
Come Vuoi Pane & Condimenti
The best way to describe Come Vuoi Pane & Condimenti on the Via Argiro is to call it a very upmarket Subway. When you get an eyeful of the bright white and bare wood interior décor with a huge, real olive tree in the middle, you'll get the general gist of why it's upmarket.
Come Vuoi Pane & Condimenti is what is known in Italian as a baguetteria so what's on the menu here are baguettes and more baguettes. While that might not sound like much, the baguettes they make at Come Vuoi Pane & Condimenti are exceptional in both size and content.
At Come Vuoi Pane & Condimenti they have a counter with over 35 ingredients you can choose to fill your baguette with. Don't rush though, they have something even better than this French bread roll and that's bowls made out of bread dough.
The bread dough bowls are fantastic filled with salad, ecological, and because you can eat every last crumb, means no dishes. Admittedly, they're not the easiest thing to consume while walking down the street, and certainly not a traditional sandwich, but definitely worth eating in-house or saving until you get back to your hotel. New traditions have to start somewhere and this could well be one.
If your choice of where to stay in Bari is influenced by the need to be close to good restaurants, then the Patata Shop isn't going to make a great difference to your final decision.
The Patata Shop is a European-style fast food joint on the Piazza Mercantile that's the ideal place to grab a bite if you've been visiting one of Bari's museums. It's a 15-minute walk north of the Bari Central Station.
The Patata Shop fry up a variety of fries to accompany the burgers, hot dogs, English-style battered fish, and filled rolls they make. If you haven't indulged in the Puglian delicacy of an octopus sandwich, panino con polpo, this could be the place to try it. If you have to be budget-conscious, you'll appreciate the super low prices of their combination menus that come with a couple of food items and a drink included.
If you're hankering after something akin to a bucketful of KFC, you'll find it if you follow your nose down the Via Marchese di Montrone. It's not too sinful if, for one meal, you forget Bari's gastronomic tradition and local food to have some familiar comfort food instead.
Oiza Chicken are keen to promote what they do so don't be surprised if you get pecked on the street by a guy in a very bad chicken costume before you manage to get through the door. You may well look twice at their logo too as it looks more like a character from Angry Birds than it does a friendly rooster.
What's on the menu here? Chicken, more chicken, and then extra chicken cooked in just about every way you can imagine. Crispy-coated fried chicken, chicken nuggets, chicken burgers, chicken wings, chicken dippers, you name it, these guys have it. They make great onion rings too, so don't miss out on getting a portion of those.
IL cHiOsCo Take Away
IL cHiOsCo Take Away occupies an octagonal-shaped kiosk in the Giardini di Piazza Umberto. If you like to eat outdoors standing under the trees, this is the street food spot to head for.
IL cHiOsCo is where you can pick up a very economical snack and a great coffee to go with it. The food here is simple slices of pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs, sweet and savory crepes, cornettos, and an extensive selection of fresh homemade ice cream.
Best Street Food Spots In Bari
Typically, in any tourist town, the best street food spots are near the tourist hot spots and Bari is no different. You'll find the tastiest treats in the Old Town Historic Center and the Lungomare Imperatore Augusto. Regardless of where you choose to eat in either of these neighborhoods, you're guaranteed a great view of the water or charming historic buildings. It could be worse, right?
Street Food Festivals In Bari
Food Truck Festival
Bari is still quite new to the food truck scene and currently has just one street food festival a year. The Food Truck Festival takes place over three days at the end of July and the beginning of August. It's a moderate-sized gathering of food trucks from all over Italy that cook up international as well as Italian food.
Street food in Bari is true to the traditional food of Puglia as well as being adventurous by exploring new culinary routes. Whether you opt for the best slice of focaccia barese in the city, a paper bag full of sgagliozze, an octopus sandwich, or a bread bowl full of healthy ingredients, you're guaranteed to get something incredibly tasty that will soon have you lining up for more.
On occasion, the street food you find in Bari may not look or taste like anything you’ve ever had before, but be brave, give it a try and you’ll be both surprised and delighted at just how good it is.
In all honesty, you don't need to go on a street food tour in Bari to discover what Bari street food is all about. On a private tour, you may make a local friend who regales you with all the funny anecdotes they've told to a hundred or more other visitors to this fascinating city. But do you really want to listen to tales about the fish market traders or how boiled potatoes are mashed to make focaccia barese? Probably not.
Take a wander around the narrow streets of the old town on your own and you'll come across old ladies sitting on stools making pasta the way they've made it for four generations. No, you won't be able to eat it, but you will be able to take it home with you and cook up a tasty puttanesca sauce with olives and fresh tomatoes. What better souvenir of your visit to Bari can you have than that?