If you’re looking to eat on a Trabocco in Ortona, you’ve come to the right place! Equally, if you’re new to the Trabocco Coast on Italy’s Adriatic shore, read on for the history of these incredible structures, today reused as restaurants. Finally, read a review of Gli Ostinati, one of the coastline’s best-loved trabocco restaurants.
The Trabocco Coast
Italy’s Costa dei Trabocchi or Trabocco Coast begins near the town of Ortona, not far from Pescara, on the east coast of Italy in the region of Abruzzo, and traditionally runs down to the town of Vasto about 40 km further south. It is called this for the presence of numerous trabocchi, wooden piers with shelters built out into the sea. According to local lore, these wooden structures were introduced by Phoenician immigrants, although the majority of documented structures date back about 300 years. They were used for fishing, both by fishermen when the weather was too bad to go out in boats, or more typically by farmers and locals who were not experienced enough or equipped to go out to sea.
Many trabocchi fell into ruin over the centuries, washed away and beaten down by sea and storms. But over the last few decades, there has been increasing interest in recuperating these historic structures and turning them into restaurants. So it was that work began in 2013 on the last remaining trabocco in Ortona, Trabocco Punta Mucchiola. The only structure still standing of the nine that previously stood along the Ortona coast, the rescue project slowly brought this beautiful trabocco back to life.
Trabocco in Ortona: Gli Ostinati
In 2020, architect Cristian Bomba took over the trabocco at Punta Mucchiola, with a vision for a romantic and high quality dining experience here. Bomba himself had already been involved with the transformation of the town’s old seafront railway tracks into a cycle path, a crucial regenerative act for the future of the beaches of Ortona. Bomba then met with chef Gianluca Di Bucchianico, and the idea for a restaurant, Gli Ostinati (“the obstinate”), was born.
Trabocco Mucchiola is located at the point where the Costa dei Trabocchi begins and can only be reached by crossing the cycle path on foot or by bike. This 42 km path currently links Ortona and Vasto, but the EU-backed vision is for a coastal path which will eventually run from Trieste to Santa Maria de Leuca.
Gli Ostinati trabocco restaurant – the story
Gli Ostinati is an atmospheric and romantic trabocco restaurant, encircled by water, which is able to accommodate a maximum number of 35 guests. The kitchen, a tiny space of just 12 sq m which recalls a ship’s galley, has been designed to be equipped with the essentials for a team of just three chefs.
The philosophy of chef Di Bucchianico is to work with only the freshest ingredients from the sea and land and to create a daily menu in line with what is available. Accordingly, you will not find a written menu here, and indeed you should expect to eat a set menu of six courses, designed daily by the chef.
Despite these restrictions, the chef is able to create menus that change regularly, and that surprise and delight. The focus is around drawing on the traditions of the region, while also exploring modern and fun combinations.
“Everything we use in the kitchen comes from this area,’ chef Di Bucchianico says. ‘The pulses we use out of season are all dried and are sourced from neighbouring farmers, just like the vegetables and salad greens we buy every day. Needless to say, the fish arrives here practically alive; I believe in the idea that if the universe has given us seasonal differentiation, we must be good at interpreting it, and taking advantage of everything that is granted to us in that period. For example, if lamb and scampi and asparagus are now in season, who says they can’t be used in the same dish?’
Di Bucchianico cites as his inspiration former mentor Angelo Sabatelli, ‘and my mother, a lifelong cook’.
‘My work in this area began long before the cycle path project,’ adds architect Cristian Bomba – ‘because I have always been convinced that quality tourism could be achieved here. This is why I started studying and planning ideas that could bring people here, also through participation in regional tenders.
‘I always dreamed of opening a restaurant on a trabocco. It took 12 years to find one and to bring all this to life; in the meantime with Gianluca, i created the Ostinati format, which fits us perfectly, because we were both stubborn and visionary.’
Trabocco in Ortona: Gli Ostinati restaurant review
On my visit to Gli Ostinati restaurant, on a beautiful May day, we passed down though spotless streets of Ortona and across the trabocco’s wooden gangplank. The structure rises out of the sea with unspoilt views and is a truly unique experience.
Our set menu began with torcinello e scampo, stuffed offal accompanied with a raw red king prawn, which was flavourful and striking – a wonderful way to marry the traditions of land and sea.
Next, pancotto was a pillowy slice of focaccia bread topped with seafood, while we also tried a sliver of marinated jellyfish.
Our pasta dish was an honest homage to the coast, fat spaghetti with garlic, oil, chilli pepper and sweet red pepper from Altino. This was followed by three dishes exploring the catch of the day; a single langoustine; ‘hairy’ crabs with pasta; and red snapper with bitter greens, almond milk and vanilla.
Lunch finished with a local delicacy, nevola and ricotta. The Abruzzo nevola is a fine, hand-pressed wafer served with ricotta cream and jam and is absolutely delicious.
Expect to spend around €70 per head, wine excluded.
This is an absolutely unique and soulful experience in a place yet to be overrun with tourists. Highly recommended!
Testaccina was a guest of Gli Ostinati
Gli Ostinati Restaurant at Trabocco Mucchiola | Strada Statale 16 km 477 | Ripari Bardella | Ortona |Tel: +39 347 54 35 830