THE BEST OF THE BEST IN LUCCA*
This Week: Lucca’s Best Ristoranti*
* This is the second part of a series first published in April, 2018. This week we look at an updated listing of Lucca’s best ristoranti. I spend my time between Portland, Oregon and Lucca, two Foodie cities. And, I am, without a doubt a Foodie. So, today I am introducing you to some of my favorite ristoranti in Lucca. I hope you enjoy.
Most Romantic Restaurant: Trattoria Canuleia
Canuleia, on via Canuleia 14, is just off the anfiteatro, in the heart of Lucca. It is clearly one of my favorite spots to eat. The chef, Matteo is talented and wonderfully creative. His wife, Eleanora who runs the dining room, aided by Sara and Barbara, offer perfect service. Not only does this fine eatery have wonderful food, it boosts the most beautiful garden in all of Lucca. Sit there and bask in a romantic adventure, imagining Giacomo Puccini playing his organ a few steps away. As far as I’m concerned, Canuleia is a must. Again, say ciao from Roberto and Donato. I can guarantee you that you will be happy you did. Canuleia is open for lunch and dinner. For reservations call 0583 467 470.
Best Value Restaurant: Ammodonostro
I also love Ammodonostro on Via Della Frata, 22. It’s a modern space with terrific food, a wonderful garden and a great value. It offers an array of dishes for around 5 or 6 euro, surprising given the quality of the food. Francesco, the absolutely delightful owner, and his terrific cohort, Antonio, run the kitchen while his mom Daniella, Simone and Serena look over the dining room and patio area – it is one of my favorite gardens in Lucca. Send Francesco and his team our regards. For reservations call 0583 953 828.
Best Fusion Restaurant: Paris Boheme
Another wonderful spot is Paris Boheme. The wildly wacky Louis and his subdued partner and chef, Davide, have created a terrific restaurant, a fusion of French and Italian, rather unusual for the typical Lucchesi – the Insalata Erotica is superb and who can pass up a salad with such a name. The pastas are wonderful, as are the meats and the service is very friendly. Also unusual is the inventive and romantic indoor décor. And, the outdoor dining, right next to the statue of Giacomo Puccini, in Piazza Cittadella, 6, takes you back to another moment in history. Louis will definitely entertain you. When you say ciao from Roberto and Donato, he’ll probably laugh and do a little curtsy, maybe even give you a big hug. Do make a reservation, as the restaurant is small. Note too that while the restaurant is normally open for both lunch and dinner, the couple tend to close whenever they feel like they need a break, so do stop by or call ahead. Tel 338.930.5275.
Newest with Top Chef, Ristorante Bernino
Paolo Indragoli, one of Lucca’s top chefs has recently moved to Ristorante Bernino and boy is it good! Paolo cooks up some of the best food in all of Italy. The restaurant is nicely appointed, the service is top notch and the food is to die for. During nice weather it is also a perfect spot for a Spritz. Ristorante Bernino is located at the corner of via Fillungo and via Mordini (via Nuova).
Reservations can be made by calling 0583 1713413.
Best Traditional Restaurants: Da Giulio e Da Francesco
Trattoria da Giulio
For an unusual, but absolutely delicious treat head to Da Giulio 0583 55948 and order farinata. This local specialty is a dish difficult to describe and hard to find anywhere else, but it is beyond terrific. The Pasta Contadina, with fresh pomodori, is also yummy, as are the grilled squid. In fact, most everything is good: the salads, the melone and prosciutto, the veal dishes, and the dolce – try the tiramisu. Say hello to Emmeletta or Marilena, two women who couldn’t be nicer or more accommodating. The historic restaurant is located next to Lucca’s wall on Via delle Conce, 45. It’s open for both lunch and dinner. For reservations call 0583 55948.
Da Francesco is located near Chiese San Michele at the little Corte Portici, 13, tel 39 0583 418049. It’s a family affair run by husband and wife team Francesco, lo chef, and Sara, who manages the dining room. The setting is rustic and there is a nice outdoor area. I love the prosciutto con melone, the Spaghetti Bolognese, and, when available, the sorbetto limone. Donald enjoys the same starter and dolce, but goes for the Tortelli Lucchesi. The meats, especially the chingiale (wild boar) and veal dishes are delicious. Service, at times, is sketchy, but the food is all yummy and at very reasonable prices.
Best Pizzeria: Da Gherardo in Piazza Anfiteatro
If it’s a sunny day and the pizzeria is full, owner Gherardo will be all smiles and so will you, as you enjoy your delicious, very thin pizza in the anfiteatro and watch the parade pass by. All the pizzas are great, but neither Donald or I can pass up the Pizza Capricciosa with a sunny side up egg in the middle. Da Gherardo is located in Piazza Anfiteatro, 9. Reservations are generally not required, but if you’d like to make one please call 390583 492 116.
Three very different, but wonderful ristoranti, one with roots in Sicily
Osteria da Pasqualino Gubitosa
Pasquale own and operate this fine osteria. There are so many things to recommend here, it is a bit difficult. First, the extensive wine list is first rate. The service is friendly and Pasquale is a treat. I love the melanzane appetizer. I’ve never had eggplant taste so very good. It’s a must, even if you aren’t an eggplant fan. All the pastas are good and the meats are wonderful. I recently enjoyed a spectacular bistecca, one I’ll look forward to enjoying again and Donato raved about his orata, a local white fish. I don’t know the current chef, but I do know that the food is wonderful and the ambience is very sweet. Osteria Pasqualino Gubitosa is located at Via del Moro, 8. For reservations, call 39 0583 496 506. The restaurant is often booked several days in advance.
Ristorante La Norma
Norma is definitely Sicilian. Funny, in Lucca that’s almost considered foreign food. Whether it’s foreign or not, Chef Carlo makes the best antipasti tasting I’ve ever enjoyed. These include five must-order antipasti courses, each one more beautiful and edible than the previous. I hate to say it, but after relishing the chef’s antipasti it’s hard to eat anything more, but I always give it a go. The chef has a great selection of inexpensive wines and the candlelight room is beautiful. The service is very friendly. You can make reservations by calling 39 320 212 4627. Say Roberto sent you 🙂 Ristorante La Norma is located on Via San Nicolao, 26, near the great column and art gallery by Piazza San Francesco.
Finally, the Charming L’isola Che Non C’era
Yes, L’isola Che Non C’era is an odd name for a restaurant, but in the case of this wonderful eatery odd is good. It’s very good in fact. Roberto and his wife, who does the cooking, run a smart and friendly restaurant. The antipasti dishes, especially the meats and cheeses are a perfect starter to any meal. Lori’s pastas, the truffle pasta, the pasta con fungi, the several varieties of lasagna are perfect dishes, as are virtually all the meats. Ask to sit inside among the hundreds of bottles of wine on the primo piano or first floor or, if the weather is nice at one of the outdoor tables. The service is extra friendly. L’isola che non c’era literally means the island that does not exist. But, believe me, this restaurant, located on Via Degli Angeli, 7, just off Via Filungo, does exist and it’s wonderful. Call 39 0583 057384 for reservations.
These are my 9 favorite eating spots in Lucca. I hope you get the opportunity to try them all. And, if you know anyone heading to Lucca be sure to send this blog along to them and encourage them to sign up at www.welovelucca.com.
Next week we’ll look at Lucca’s top pasticcerie and two spectacular gelaterie.