Home cooking at your vacation home in Tuscany

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LOCAL RESTAURANTS

There are many good low priced restaurants where you can get a good 3 course meal with wine for around twelve pounds ($20 US) per person. There are often no written menus (not even on a blackboard) and only in the really smart restaurants will you find anyone who speaks English - so a dictionary is vital, unless of course you speak the lingo. One thing to bear in mind is that Italian cuisine is incredibly regional and many dishes are the staple diet in one area and unheard of in the next e.g. spaghetti alla carbonara and many cream based pasta/meat dishes, which you may eat in other areas of Italy and in most Italian restaurants in the UK, are rarely found in this area.
Italians usually have an antipasto course, a pasta course (primo) and a main course (secondo) - we find this too much and usually have either an antipasto and pasta or a pasta and main course.
When booking bear in mind that Italians rarely eat dinner before 8.00 p.m. although pizzerias will often be open sooner.
We have included some well known restaurants (in Forti dei Marmi for example) which we have not personally tried, hence we have been unable to describe them in any detail.

Restaurant Prices

This is intended as a guide to prices for the restaurants shown, based on prices per person, including service and tax.
At weekends, particularly for Sunday lunch and during the season, it is advisable to book, otherwise you may find yourself disappointed or facing a long wait.

*** Expensive 40 - 65 US $       ** Moderate 18 - 40 US $           * Under 18 US $

NOTE: map references are the numbers in square brackets.

RESTAURANTS OUTSIDE THE LUCCA WALLS (not in order of preference)

RISTORANTE LA MEA (*)[4] 0584 956047 Closed Thursdays(TEMPORARILY CLOSED)

This is one of our favourite restaurants, which we have been visiting regularly for 15 years.  It is family run (with most of the family eating and watching the television all evening in-between serving the customers!) but the atmosphere and decor are great, there are always lots of Italians eating there, the food is reasonably priced and the pasta is divine! Almost without exception La Mea becomes a favourite of our clients.

Recommended dishes are:

Antipasto If you're having antipasto, the prosciutto ham and melon are always good.  Also ask for Crostini Caldi, which are excellent here - a sort of hot chicken liver pate on fried bread, and squares of fried polenta.

Primi Piatti

Penne all'arrabbiata (hot chilli, garlic, tomato and cream sauce) - the best we have ever eaten!
Spaghetti all'aglio, olio and peperoncino (very hot and garlicky!)
Pappardelle alla cinghiale (tomato and wild boar sauce, no chilli - kids love it)
Risotto con funghi (typically Tuscan and very tasty mushroom risotto)
Ravioli or Tortelli con ricotta e spinaci (delicious pockets of pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach and served with butter and sage)
Tortelloni con ragu (home-made large pasta cushions containing meat and served with a meat sauce)

L'ALPINOS (*)[8]   No Bookings Closed Monday

This is a simple pizza restaurant, but the pizzas are among the best we've ever tasted.  Go early i.e. 7pm or late as it is often crowded and you may have to wait.  If you're hungry, a good starter is the Pasta all'Alpino (spicy herb sauce).  All the pizzas are excellent but our favourite is the Piazza all'Indiana. The grilled pork chops are good.

 

GINA'S (*/**)[9[ 0583 38215/38005 Closed Tuesday

Another good, reasonably priced restaurant.  The antipasto di terra is good. The pastas are all fine. Their speciality is their Tagliata, which is, literally translated, "cut" steak. It is served with chopped rucola, (rocket) its own juices. Even if you're not normally a red meat person, it's worth a try.

 

AL CASONE  (*)[10] 0583 38012   Closed Thursday

Cheapish restaurant/pizzeria immediately next door to Gina.  Excellent pizzas. Superb Spaghetti allo Scoglio (spaghetti served with a garlicky, spicy sauce with mussels and clams in their shells).  Service can be slow in the summer so be prepared to wait, or go to L'Alpino's down the road!

 

DANTE (*/**)[1]  0584 956046  Closed Wednesday(TEMPORARILY CLOSED)

This is the nearest restaurant to Al Bastini.  It is a bit quiet but the food is always excellent, there is a good selection of wines and the manager, Alessandro is a friend of ours who speaks English and French.  This restaurant sometimes has fish dishes. The Gnocchi al sugo di granchio (a potato flour based pasta with crab sauce) and Spaghetti allo Scoglio are excellent. For a main fish course, try any baked fish with potatoes - it's divine. Good steaks and pizzas too. Takes credit cards.

 

LOMBARDO (*/**)[2]  0583 349091 Closed Monday

A very pleasant restaurant, with good cuisine. You can also sit on the terrace here with excellent views. A less expensive alternative to Il Vipore below. You should still book. Takes credit cards.

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RISTORANTE LA MORA (**/***)[7] 0583 57109 Closed Wednesday

This is one of the best restaurants in the area. It is expensive and a 30 minutes' drive. It is unusual in several respects - beautiful china, cutlery etc, credit cards accepted, English spoken and superb service. It has a Menu Gastronomico, which consists of many, many (about 12!) small dishes in succession e.g. a tiny salmon mousse to start, followed by a couple of dishes like shredded chicken with pine nuts in the most exquisite olive oil, followed by three tiny portions of different pastas, three tiny main dishes and several tiny desserts.  All this, together with a superb selection of wines, make it well worth a visit. MUST BOOK.

 

RISTORANTE AL MOLINO (*)[11] 0583 59002  Closed Wednesday

Only need to book on Friday and Saturday.

Unusual menu but everything, including pizzas, is very good. If you like curry flavour the Lasagnette al Curry is superb. There is a card in the small black folder with a map.

 

Il Guercio (*/**)[12] 0583 385193  Closed Mon and Tues

 

One of the few restaurants near Lucca where you will find good fish dishes. Book at weekends. There is an outside eating area. The menu varies but if available try;

Tagliatelle al Guercio flat noodles with a meat and vegetable sauce
Maccheroni alle arselle  pasta with baby clams

 

Vipore (**)[3]   0583  394065  Closed Mondays

Used to be one of the best restaurants in the Lucca area with superb views from the outside terrace. Recently changed owners and so still a little unknown. Worth a visit just for eating outside.

 

Il Ritrovo (*)     Closed Mondays

Local cheap restaurant but stick to the very good thin based pizzas.

RESTAURANTS INSIDE THE LUCCA WALLS

BUCA DI SANT'ANTONIO (**)  0583 55881  Closed Mon and Sun.

This is a smart, expensive restaurant where they speak English and have an extensive printed menu. You should book. The food is excellent, English is spoken but we find it a bit too touristy.  It is situated just off the main square, Piazza San Michele, at 1/3 via delle Cervia. Takes credit cards.

Da Giulio-in-Pelleria (*/**) 0583 55948 Closed Sun, Mon & Aug

Good simple Tuscan Lucchese specialities.

Puccini. (**)  0583 316116  Closed Tues & Wed lunch

Popular and comfortable fish restaurant with terrace for outside eating. Accepts credit cards. Booking advised.

DA LEO (*) 0583 492236  Closed Sat and Sun

Da Leo is another of our favourites. It has a varied and unusual menu and even offers you a choice of cheeses and delicious desserts.  English is spoken a little! Should book.recommended:

Penne al sugo di granchio (creamy crab sauce)
Gamberoni (large grilled prawns with garlic butter)
Torta di verdura (sweet vegetable tart - delicious)
Tiramisu (famous Tuscan dessert. A sort of coffee, liqueur-flavoured trifle)

It is situated at 1 via Tegrimi, close to the main square.

BARSOTTI DA GUIDO(*) 0583 47219  Closed Sunday

 

This is a tiny cafe situated behind Piazza San Salvatore.  It is extremely cheap and extremely good. The staff are friendly and helpful and you will rarely see a tourist there.  We found it when we lived in a flat in the centre of Lucca for a few months and we, like the locals, ate there every night. It is also a good place to use for lunch during a sightseeing trip. Address: 28 via S Battisti.

CANULEIA (*) 0583 47470  Closed Saturday and Sunday

A small, restaurant situated just behind the Amphitheatre (which in turn is half way off via Fillungo, the smart shopping street) in the middle of Lucca. Some unusual dishes, small portions but delicious all the same.

Address: via Canuleia 14

AL OLIVO (*/**)  0583 46264  Closed Wednesday

Another small, restaurant, situated off via Fillungo in Piazza S Quirico.  Worth a visit after a morning's shopping.  Not cheap but very interesting cuisine.

SLIM JOES  (*) 0583 55912   Closed Sunday

I go here quite often as it is immediately off the main square and very convenient after a morning at the bank, shops etc. My reason for going is to have one of their enormous salads, the tuna, or the mozzarella and tomato.  Salads are unusual as a main course in Tuscany so if you feel like one, or even if you want a good hamburger, go here.  The pastas too are excellent.

Address: Corte Campagna 3

PISA

If you go to Pisa, be warned that for some reason it is quite difficult to find a good restaurant there. An alternative is to go back to Lucca via the old road (i.e. not on the motorway) and you will go through a very pretty spa village called San Giuliano in Terme, which is worth a walk around and where incidentally several famous English authors/composers found inspiration.  In this village, visible from the main road is:

SALUSTRI (*/**)  050 818060 Closed Sun eve and Mon

No need to book here - it's quite a large restaurant.  Recommended dishes are basically anything with fish: the spaghetti allo scoglio, the fritto misto, the fish baked in the oven.

Montecani Terme

Enoteca Giovanni (**/***),. 0572 7169  Closed Mon

Restaurant with trattoria (next door) both with outdoor eating in summer. Don't be put off by the pastel 70's decor, both restaurants serve good local Accepts credit cards.

Gourmet. viale Amendola (***)  0572 771012 Closed Tues

Elegant restaurant with an emphasis on fish dishes. Accepts credit cards.

FORTE DEI MARMI

Lorenzo. (**/***) .  0584 84030 Closed Mon & Lunch

A small restaurant with a Michelin star. Booking is essential. Accepts credit cards.

La Barca (**/***)  :0584 89323 Check opening times

Michelin starred restaurant with outside dining in summer. Accepts credit cards.

 


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