Since we were in Lucca for a few days, it was a natural that we would stop at the Caffé di Simo for a coffee - a couple of times actually. Why the di Simo? For its history and old-time ambiance more than its coffee, which was just about the same as every other little bar.
It is listed as Lucca's oldest such establishment, but it's claim to fame and the reason you might find tourists there is that was frequented (in the truest sense of the word) by famed opera composer Giacomo Puccini. Some sources indicate that Puccini occasionally played the piano in the bar, but not the one which stands there now.
[I will assume that anybody on VT knows that you pay more for your drinks and food when sitting at a table rather than standing at the bar, but just in case - you have been so advised. I knew this in advance, but occasionally read scathing reviews from folks who don't understand this custom.)
Favorite Dish: I don't believe we had anything but coffee (espresso for me, cappuccino at the wrong time of day for my wife).
I have long waited to visit this restaurant, I know the chef as he is part of the same cooking forum I belong and I always wanted to visit him and try his cooking as he gave a humorous impression of himself and some great simple Lucca recipes.
The restaurant is in a Villa that used to be a convert and has been converted about 40 years ago. He owns it since 2005 and he has previously worked in England and Australia.
The dining area is divided between two rooms, tastefully decorated and cozy.
There is a big terrace overlooking the valley with a fantastic view.
It is a bit hard to find, you absolutely need a car and better if you have a GPS navigator, the route is not really hard but sometime a little confusing.
Marco Ribechini, the chef and his American wife will welcome you and will illustrate their seasonal menu and their rich wine list.
Check their website for the full menu and to make sure on the opening time.
Reservation is advisable during weekends
Favorite Dish: For Appetizer we had couscous with prawns, and shrimps on chick peas puree.
My partner had a first course of tordelli lucchesi, Lucca typical ravioli with meat sauce
As second course he had lamb chop, fried with a pistachio nuts crust and I had the traditional fried mix, chicken, lamb and bits of vegetables. The second course came with a side of vegetables.
We were wery pleased with our meal, actually a FEAST! Everything was cooked to perfection, well presented and absolutely delicious.
I would recommend this restaurant to anybody who loves good food.
This bakery is a Lucca institution founded in 1881. It is an antique shop that never felt the need to change its style and this is the real plus! The inside is made of dark wood, there is a small counter where coffee, cappuccino and other beverage are served and a long counter with glass windows where you can choose your dessert.
It has been recommended to me by some local friends who belong to a cooking association, I am part of their forum and their food tips are always a gold mine of goodness!
Favorite Dish: The local specialty has been made her for so long that took the name from this shop, it is Bucellato Taddeucci, a sort of sweet bread with raisins very aromatic and fragrant.
They make it in different size and if you are in Lucca you have to try it!
Another typical sweet is pan di ramerino, a flat bread with spices and rosemary leaves.
This was my best meal in Lucca and I was there 5 days painting on my first trip and several days the year after. Call and make reservations. Even on a weekeday at lunch it is popular with the locals. They won't try to squeeze you in unless you are very lucky.
It is a bit of a walk from the center of Lucca, YOU NEED A MAP, the circular streets keep you a bit lost.
Favorite Dish: My best dish there was roast goat. I also love their spelt soup with artichokes. 6 euros
Suggested red vino was 6 euros
bruschetta 4 euros
Roasted goat 9 euros
All was totally excellent.
We belong to an Italian Cooking forum and this ristorante comes highly recommended. The chef also contributes to the forum and is well known as being exceptional. We expected something awesome, and we were rewarded!
Chef Marco comes out of the kitchen to talk to his patrons, and his wife who serves the food with two other waiters is friendly and loves to speak about the food and the restaurant. We asked for the to suggest some bold red wines that are within our budget and we picked one which turned out to be a whole lot better than the price. A nice surprise.
The menu is Tuscan, but Chef Marco has tweaked some items to make them his. He is well travelled and uses the knowledge from those areas to boost his visitor's experience.
Villa Bongi is located on the side of a hill, and has two levels, the lower being for pizza. His menu features are priced fixed which has PILES of food for 20 euros each. You will not believe this! We, however, did not order this, but made choices of which all turned out wonderful. See Photos.
The recommendations from the cooking forum, Coquinaria.it, were right on the mark, and I believe that if you visit Villa Bongi, you will have a great experience.
Favorite Dish: Octopus that was a tempura style was my favorite.
The sauces he uses are memorable.
I tried to take photos of this, and some are here.
Because we tried many things, had a wonderful bottle of wine, instead of the priced fixed menu, the cost was higher than normal. This is a place where you want to explore the menu.
Price per person below is for the priced fix menu.
Our total was nearly 100 dollars as we ordered 3 courses, and wine.
I believe that this is one of the best restaurants in the Lucca area, the locals know who Chef Marco is, and that is also a good recommendation.
Clean, Warm, Friendly, Helpful, and Tasty.
Warning.... If you go in this shop, you WILL buy something. The creations are most inviting and your taste buds will confirm what your eyes have told you.
This shop has been in business for just about 150 years. That tells you something about the shop as it sits in the very center of Lucca.
They also have breads, one which might be only featured near Easter and Christmas is a type of raisin bread that is to die for. Take one back to your hotel!
Prices are moderate.
As you can see from my photos, the shop has not been renovated, but kept the old style.
If you are in Lucca, go here and enjoy the real deal.
Favorite Dish: It is difficult to say which pastry was my favorite, we tried several, and took some with us for later. The recipes they use have been handed down and kept the same. See the photos and know they have lots of choices.
Found in a gastro guide, it is located in Gattaiola, some km far from the city centre. The atmosphere is really genuine and personell very kind. Appetizers were very tasty and in large quantity but we were a bit disappointed by the main courses, too fat. The most remarkable thing of our lunch was the following chat with some local guests. Actually, I think you can find some better choices in the city centre.
Closed on Mon.
I enjoyed a yummy lunch break with my VT friend Sioma on the outdoor terrace of the Trattoria da Leo. It is a small family-style trattoria which is specialised in traditional tuscan cuisine.
For info about local meals please also check my "Local Custom tips". Taking the central location into account, prices are quite reasonable at the Trattoria da Leo.
Cafe del Mercato, also called Il Barino is one of the cafes situated at piazza San Michele. Here you can have something to eat, as first courses (pasta, gnocchi, rice dishes), panini (sandwiches), crepes and some other things. There is a limited offer on the menu at this cafe, but you can ask what they prepared for that day. Quite surely there is something which is not written on the menu.
This cafe is small, but has some tables outside.
Favorite Dish: I ate there lots of times and I enjoyed everything I ordered. My favourite dish at Il Barino was farfalle con salmone (a kind of pasta; noodles with salmon).
Crema e Cioccolato is my favourite ice cream place when I am in Lucca. It is a small place with few places to sit inside and three benches outside. Here you can find many ice cream tastes to choose from.
At Crema e Cioccolato you can also have some sweet crepes.
Favorite Dish: Pineapple and stracciatella (cream with small pieces of chocolate) tastes are really good.
We spent our first dinner in Lucca in this pizzeria and what a treasure! The pizzas are really good cook and tasting and big tooo :) The service is also fast and clean as well as the owner who seems very happy man.
The restaurant is spacious and also offer the service in the terrace (in summer), very nice.
Favorite Dish: We had a nice big salad as starter and a couple of pizza with parma ham, mozzarella, tomatoe sauce and rucola!!!
mmmmm very tasting :)
If an elderly lady turns up, on her own, she will be shunted off to the table next to the toilet. Solo travellers are obviously an embarassment. The food was excellent. and doubtless so was the ambience in the next room, from what one could hear of it, over the cionstant flushing of the toilet a few inches from my table. The restaurant was not busy, and such discourtesy is inexcusable. If you are on your own, ladies, go elsewhere
Da Leo has both an outdoor dining area and the more atmospheric indoor dining room. The dining room was crowded and had a 'buzzy' atmosphere and occasional bursts of song from the waiters.
We each started with a different farro soup, then we each had a roast: veal and pork. Unfortunately the roast potatoes were finished so we were offered chips but chose instead roast vegetables and fennel. We drank water and the house red. The bread, already sliced, was brought to the table in brown paper bags to prevent it from drying out, and proved excellent for sopping up the soup and gravy. We finished with one lemon gelati and one tiramisu.
Good food, wine and service and lots of entertainment from both the waiters and people watching.
While in Lucca, Allan and I were fortunate to have experienced Buca di S. Antonio, a marvelous restaurant with delicious food, creative presentation, efficient service, outstanding wines, ambience, and a wonderful history.
In ancient Tuscan,Buca" is equivalent to "Taverna" or "Osteria" and documents dating back as far as 1782 refer to "Osteria a S. Antonio". In the 18th century "Buca" was a place to eat but also a livery and a stable!
The Buca is owned by Franco Barbieri and Giuliano Pacini, and it is one of "Lucca's most characteristic places."
The interior is unique with wonderful arches, all kinds of brass kitchenware hanging from the ceiling and the walls. It has dark wooden beams on the ceiling as well as dark, beautiful wood on the bottom portion of some walls.
Favorite Dish: Some of the dishes that Buca S. Antonio is most popular for are:
1. Ravioli di ricotta alle zucchine
2. Tortelli lucchesi al sugo
3. Pappardelle alla lepre
4. Carpaccio di trota salmonata
con radicchietti di campo
5. Petto di faraona all'uva moscato
6. Capretto garfagnino allo spiedo
con erbette saltate
7. Fegatelli di maiale allo spiedo con rapini
Allan had Goat meat, pasta in butter, and a salad.
I had a Guinea hen, Bean Farro Soup, and
We also enjoyed a bottle of Brunella (1993) wine, which was delicious! (It should be for what it cost)!
It was indeed a wonderful evening with great food, excellent wine, a lovely environment, and the best company (my husband).
We hesitated a bit before picking a restaurant on the Piazza Anfiteatro but after looking around for a while, we just couldn't find another spot in Lucca that offered the same kind of lively ambience. After looking at the different menus (there are plenty of restaurants to choose from on the piazza), we settled for the Anfiteatro Caffe. We were only looking for a light lunch, and their local cheese platter seemed perfect for what we had in mind. We got to sample four different types of cheese, and the platter came with bread, jam and honey mustard. Along with a glass of house wine, it made for the perfect snack in a great atmosphere!