One of the best parts of a vacation getaway to Italy is the opportunity to gorge on glorious Italian cuisine. Making it extra special is discovering spots away from the usual tourist’s eateries and tasting foods the locals eat every day. Pisa is a prime place to sample great local culinary delights. So, you want to eat like a local? Here is a list of the 12 best places to do just that.
1. Dine like one big Italian family at Numero 11!
Located in the heart of Pisa, Numero 11, also called Numeroundici, is a hidden gem locals love. Numero 11 offers rustic Italian fare that is as delicious as anything you’ll find in Pisa. The hearty portions keep the place packed with Italian families and college students. Numero 11 is also the place locals bring their out-of-town visitors.
The long tables and benches give Numero 11 a communal feel, that adds to the large Italian-family ambiance. Dine on the rabbit with aubergines, or pork with potatoes, while chatting with fellow patrons. Numero 11 also provides a nice variety of vegetarian dishes like aubergine in tomato sauce and a chickpea vegan meatball.
Numero 11 is a self-service restaurant where you order and pick up at the counter, and when you’re done, you clear your own table. The prices are reasonable, making Numero 11 a great choice for families and others on a budget. So, if you want to know what it’s like to dine with a big Italian family, Numero 11 will afford you that experience.
Address: Via S. Martino, 47, 56125 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 27282
Website: Numero 11 (in Italian)
2. Osteria di Culegna: Truly authentic Tuscan cooking
Ask a local where’s a great place to eat and odds are they’ll say Osteria di Culegna. Don’t arrive expecting your typical pizza and pasta plates, though. Osteria di Culegna serves up local dishes that stay true to their classic Tuscan roots. The owner is proud to serve her own dishes that offer a wide variety, like a simple antipasto, with intense flavors, a velvety pumpkin cream soup, and hot ricotta, topped with a quail egg and asparagus sauce. Don’t be discouraged by the handwritten menu in Italian - the staff is happy and patient to give a detailed translation, covering everything from wines to desserts.
Like a secret little hideaway, Osteria di Cukegna is small and nestled between the Arno River and the Piazza dei Cavalieri, on a narrow pedestrian street. The place can be a challenge to find but know you’ll be rewarded handsomely, once you step through the doors of this lovely restaurant. Reservations are a must, and, if visiting during the summer, request a table outside on the terrace for an enjoyable and relaxing meal you won’t forget.
Osteria di Culegna
Address: Via Mercanti, 25, 56127 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 576426
3. La Grotta: Dine in a medieval grotto!
The lure of La Grotta isn’t just the food, it’s the locale. With exposed brick and rough stonework, La Grotta’s cave-like interior resembles a tiny grotto, making it, surprisingly, a very cozy and enticing place to either enjoy drinks with friends, or a full course meal with your sweetheart. La Grotta is predominately where you’ll find the locals.The menu is small, simple and Tuscan.
Try their excellent Pici, a hand-rolled thick pasta, that looks like fat spaghetti. The meatballs with apple is a quirky, yet tasty dish. and there’s also robust soups and local cheeses that are very appetizing. But, the winning choice is La Grotta’s codfish dish. No other piece of fish will satisfy after experiencing La Grotta’s cod.
Address: Via San Francesco, 103, 56127 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 578105
Website: La Grotta
4. Want a budget-friendly pizzeria? La Spigolatrice is the answer
With so many pizzerias in Italy, it can be overwhelming trying to make a selection. However, if you’re craving pizza and cost is a concern, then there’s only one choice in Pisa. Do like the locals and get your pizza fix from La Spigolatrice. One of the few places left in Pisa where you can order a delicious pizza, ice cold beer, and a delectable dessert and still pay a minimal amount of money. You’ll get a great deal on some pizza and La Spigolatrice is a great escape from the crush of tourists. The decor is sparse, but the food is wonderfully simple and good.
Address: Via Cagliari, 25, 56123 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 563151
Facebook: La Spigolatrice
5. Spaghetti lovers paradise: Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine
Spaghetti-loving locals mark Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine at the top of their list of restaurants to get delicious, fresh, home-made spaghetti. Located in Pisa’s town center, near the Ponte di Mezzo, Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine benefits from being hidden away from the more popular tourist areas. But that doesn’t mean Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine isn’t busy. The locals keep the place buzzing, so it is wise to make a reservation.
But, just because spaghetti die-hards flock to Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine doesn’t mean bowls of pasta are the only choices on the menu. The sliced steak is also a very popular menu item. And don’t leave without ordering the Panna Cotta with Strawberries, a fantastic way to top off your meal.
Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine
Address: Via Mercanti, 4, 56127 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 500000
Website: Spaghetteria Alle Bandierine
6. Antica Trattoria il Campano has a knack for Tuscan flair
For traditional Pisan fare, head to Antica Trattoria il Campano. Located east of the University of Pisa, Antica Trattoria il Campano resides in an 18th-century tower house, in the oldest and most colorful section of Pisa, Piazza delle Vettovaglie. The decor is rustic and oozes Tuscan charm. The food is simple, authentic, and very good, and the tantalizing aromas hit you the moment you walk in the door. Antica Trattoria il Campano is popular with locals and travelers alike. A definite must-try are the truffles and homemade pasta, particularly the pici with tomato and pepper garlic sauce. The grilled sirloin with chicory and pecorino is a real highlight, as well.
A chance to imbibe should not be passed on, as Antica Trattoria il Campano boasts a wine cellar with over 400 labels! Also adding to the Tuscan vibe are accordion players, making music as they weave their way around the dining tables.
Antica Trattoria il Campano
Address: Via Domenico Cavalca, 19, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 580585
7. Eat in style at Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo
When locals want a romantic, candlelit dinner, they reserve a table at the elegant Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo. With an attractive decor of warm colors and distinctive furniture pieces, like vintage-style chairs and candelabras, Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo provides a magical setting for a quiet dinner for two. There’s even a charming garden. Before serving up delicious food, Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo’s current locale was a retail grocery store, followed by a craftsman furniture shop, and the small architectural details reflect that and add a wonderful ambiance.
In business for 30 years, Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo is one of Pisa’s most creative and original restaurants. The local chef, Antonella Breschi, is someone who prides herself on experimentation, and it shows with her blend of classic Pisan fare, with a modern twist. Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo is one of the best eateries in this corner of Tuscany, offering high-quality food and an impressive wine cellar.
Ristorante Osteria L’Artilafo
Address: Via S. Martino, 33, 56125 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 27010
8. A Casa Mia: A truly original dining experience
A Casa Mia’s name is reflective of its location - a detached house with its own garden, transformed into an offbeat restaurant. But, A Casa Mia is also a reflection of the owner’s desire to treat all who enter like members of the family. A Casa Mia is a restaurant whose uniqueness lies in the fact that all the rooms are decorated with cozy areas you might find in your own home. So, no matter where you dine, you’re going to enjoy a nice homey atmosphere, whether it’s in the dining or living room area, kitchen, or the quaint outdoor garden. All the rooms are decorated with a great attention to detail, making you feel like you’ve arrived for a pleasant Sunday family dinner.
The menu changes periodically to give guests the freshest and most delicious ingredients, according to what’s available in a certain season. A Casa Mia offers traditional Tuscan dishes. For the main course, try the boar, a great blend of pine nuts, raisins, cocoa and juniper. Compliment the meal with a selection from A Casa Mia’s wine list, that features many exciting local varietals. For dessert, a slice of apple pie with raisins and zabaglione cream is a great way to finish an evening at A Casa Mia.
A Casa Mia
Address: Via Prov. Vicarese Calcesana, No. 10 km 0.1 56010 Pisa Area Fontina
Website: A Casa Mia (in Italian)
9. Happiness is a fresh-baked pizza from Trattoria Pizzeria Il Montino
When you see the blue neon pizzeria sign, you have found Trattoria Pizzeria Il Montino. This is the first established pizzeria in Pisa and is an icon for all types of Pisan locals. Situated in Pisa’s center, Trattoria Pizzeria Il Montino is cozy, simple and casual. The delicious pizzas are baked fresh, in front of your eyes, in a wood oven and served promptly.
House specialties include cecina, a chickpea pizza, chestnut cake and spuma, a sweet, non-alcoholic drink. Even though indoor and outdoor seating is available, because of the crowds, it’s advisable to grab a slice of pizza and enjoy a leisurely walk around the lively neighborhood.
Trattoria Pizzeria Il Montino
Address: Via Monte, 1, 56126 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 050 598695
10. Gelateria De’ Coltelli: The ultimate guru of gelato!
Gelateria De’ Coltelli is where locals go for gelato, in Pisa. The De’ Coltelli family is widely perceived as the inventor of modern ice-cream in the 17th century. With centuries of tradition to uphold, Gelateria De’ Coltelli takes its gelato-making duties very seriously, by using only fresh seasonal fruit and raw, natural ingredients, from the surrounding region, to create their heavenly hand-crafted gelato. Gelateria De’ Coltelli’s sweet treats are an amazing blend of smooth and creamy textures and intense, mind-blowing flavors, that will certainly excite your taste buds.
The moment you have to make your final selection can be difficult. However, pistachio, kiwi and chocolate gelatos are equally excellent choices. And for daredevils, the ricotta cheese with black olives is worth a try! If you leave Gelateria De’ Coltelli without a smile on your face, then you didn’t taste what Gelateria De’ Coltelli had to offer!
Gelateria De’ Coltelli
Address: Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, 23, 56100 Pisa PI, Italy
Contact: +39 345 481 1903
Website: Gelateria De’ Coltelli (in Italian)
11. Osteria I Santi: Authentic Italian cuisine at its finest
Savor every delectable bite and taste the authenticity of Italian flavors in every dish at Osteria I Santi. This hidden gem is a great place to take your friends and family when in Pisa as it serves a mean Tuscan Bresaola Capaccio, a rich and juicy beef ragout with rocket and parmesan cheese, great when paired with red wine; truly a sensation of flavors in your mouth. Some of their other best sellers include Mushroom Risotto, Picherri di Gragnano for the pasta lovers out there. Finish off with a chocolate Panna Cotta or Grandmother’s cake with ice cream and pine nuts to satisfy your inner sweet tooth; a true Italian feast right in the heart of Pisa.
Osteria I Santi
Address: Osteria I Santi, Santa Maria 71, 56125, Pisa, ITALY
Website: Osteria I Santi
Opening hours: 12 pm to 3pm, 7 pm to 11 pm; Sun to Mon
12. Taste 50 year old Pisan cuisine at Ill Campano
Trattorias are fairly common and found everywhere in Italy, the most local and authentic food could be hard to declare the best as there are several trattorias in various parts of Italy that boasts rich flavorful dishes. At Pisa however, lies an ancient dining establishment with service and experience of 50 years. This restaurant is located in two areas, one in Old Town Pisa and one new one at Via Cavalca. Ill Campano takes pride in serving best-sellers like Pappa Al Pomodoro, Polenta Fica, and Bricole to name a few decadent dishes. Make the most out of your dining experience at Pisa and order freshly hand made pasta to ensure you get quality food right at your fingertips.
Address: Restaurant Pisa Antica Trattoria Il Campano Via Cavalca, 19, 56126 Pisa (PI)
Website: Ill Campano
Now that you have the inside scoop....
Armed with your own local-food guidebook, you now know what the locals do. So, what are you waiting for? Book your flight to Pisa today, so you can enjoy the top spots where the locals sip wine and dine on dishes they’re probably savoring at this very moment.
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