In my early twenties, I made the move to Italy. And then I did it again. This time, however, I jumped from the city of Florence to the quieter, homier feel of Lucca, Italy. I went from a place everyone knew to one that no one knew at all. Compared to Florence, Lucca seemed quiet—why would I choose to leave a place that was known for its amazing architecture, history, and nightlife? There was a reason I decided to move, and much of it had to do with the food.
I had the opportunity to try out a number of restaurants in Lucca, and I can honestly say that some of my favorite meals were in this small town. Purists would tell me to go a bit outside the city limits for even better food, but what I found in Lucca was a culinary haven with some of the best Tuscan dishes.
Here were some of my favorite restaurants living there.
Piazza del Giglio, 2
+39 0583 494058
Located in one of the main piazze, Ristorante Giglio is known for greeting guests with the utmost of hospitality. Lunch and dinner usually come with a free glass of prosecco (already winning), while they have maintained most of the original interior of the building dating back several hundreds of years. This was a popular spot for opera-goers enjoying a drink, a plate of pasta, and company before a show.
You can find items for a variety of prices, but I recommend the Tortelli lucchesi al sugo di carne at 12 euro.
Via Dei Carrozzieri, 27
+39 0583 952731
My ultimate recommendation? Grab a bike for rent at one of the shops around Lucca’s famous wall and go for a spin before stopping at Osteria Miranda. You won’t find much information about this spot online, but that’s because it’s a favorite among locals. The owners do not speak great English, but all of the items on the menu are delicious—meaning you won’t go wrong with pointing at random!
My choice is the Gnocchetti di patate at 14 euro.
Via Bula, 12
+39 0583 494986
Are you even in Italy if you don’t go to a pizza place? (The answer is no.) I used to meet my friend here to practice my Italian and grab some of the best slices in Tuscany. This family-run establishment has been around forever (100 years, in fact), and there’s a reason that it remains popular. It’s also located right in the heart of the city center, so you’re already a quick walk away from anything you might want to see after a satisfying lunch.
Via Cesare Battisi, 28
+39 0583 490649
For outdoor dining, you can’t beat Osteria dal Manzo. This haven is ideal for the vegetarian, but it also offers a mix of classic foods, as well. A major reason to check this spot out is the beautiful garden. It’s a bit outside the city center (or “outside the wall” as the Lucchese like to say), but it’s has a bit more open space and is loved by locals.
Via Tegrimi, 1
+39 0583 493336
You don’t get any homier than this spot. The unpretentious atmosphere hides some of the best foods in the city. It’s also reasonably-priced, as well. I recommend starting with the antipasti before diving into the Ravioli all crema dis spinaci Leo (and it’s only 8,50 euro). Finish it off with a Tuscan dessert specialty like the Torta di erbe or Torta di mele.
Via S. Paolina, 90
+39 0583 082992
This fun spot serves Tuscan-style dishes the old way. With a large menu, there’s a little something for everyone—and the owner is character. After letting you know his recommendations for the night’s dinner, he’ll probably give you a nip of his own lemoncello recipe. I took my parents here when they came to visit for the entertainment as well as the fabulous, home-cooked food.
Gelateria Anfiteatro Lucca
Piazza dell’Anfiteatro, 18
+39 33 848 6000
After a delicious dinner, it’s time to top it all off with dessert. This place serves homemade gelato at one of the main attractions of the city—the amphitheater. The staff is also happy to help you find the perfect flavor in order to cap off a great night of gastronomy. Try the pear ice cream for a truly local, Lucca taste.
Have you ever been to Lucca? Do you have any favorite Italian restaurants in Italy that you would recommend?