La Taverna di San Giuseppe
A journey into Siena’s local gastronomy should start at La Taverna di San Giuseppe. The menu presents the city’s most authentic and traditional recipes, such as the pici, a type of home-made pasta similar to spaghetti, and bistecca alla fiorentina, a thick, succulent steak prepared from locally grown beef. The restaurant also has a wonderful wine list and boasts the best of local and national wines, including the worldwide famous Brunello di Montalcino. Finally, the restaurant takes pride in its selection of simple but tasty sweets, better enjoyed if paired with passiti, muffati and moscati wines. The tiramisu is as heavenly as its name suggests (tira mi su means ‘lift me up’ in Italian). The unpretentious atmosphere and friendly staff make this gem one of the best restaurants in the city.
Via Giovanni Duprè 132, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 42286
Castel Monastero is a luxurious hotel tucked away in the green hills around Siena. Its kitchen is in the hands of a true Master Chef: Gordon Ramsay. Attracted by Tuscany’s unique natural landscape, impressive wine culture and culinary excellence, Ramsay decided to take on the hotel’s two restaurants. In the first, Contrada, customers can taste the best of local cuisine, reinvented with a modern touch. The second, La Cantina, has a more intimate dining room with vaulted ceilings, wine barrel furniture and candlelight, and offers instead simple, local dishes prepared according to traditional recipes. La Cantina is found in Castel Monastero’s wine cellars, where a selection of some of the best Tuscan wines is kept.
Tre Cristi (Three Christs) takes its name from a painting of Christ and the two thieves crucified, which can be found on a public wall near the restaurant. Located in a 15th-century building, the interior is a mix of 1920s furnishings and boiseries with medieval-inspired paintings on the walls. This creates a captivating and refined atmosphere, making Tre Cristi an excellent choice for an elegant or romantic dinner in the historic center. The kitchen prepares exquisite Mediterranean food, and is particularly renowned for its fish dishes. Customers can choose a wine from an extensive and carefully curated list of bottles, stored in the restaurant’s rustic basements. The intimate Secret Room awaits those looking for more privacy and special service.
Via Salvani Provenzano 1, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 280608
La Bottega dei Sapori Antichi
For a quick but filling snack, visitors should make their way to La Bottega dei Sapori Antichi. This small eatery offers irresistible paninis prepared with Tuscan bread and a large selection of traditional, mouth-watering cold cuts, cheeses and oil-preserved vegetables. Among the best are the paninis with either boar prosciutto or finocchiona, a typically Tuscan pork sausage flavoured with fennel seeds. La Bottega also offers a selection of local wines to pair with the panini, as well as Siena’s best-known sweets: the panforte and almond cookies called cantucci. La Bottega dei Sapori Antichi is conveniently located close to the sloping Piazza del Campo, the large, central square which is home to Siena’s annual horse race.
Via delle Terme, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 2855001
Osteria Da Divo
Historic tuff-stone vaults crisscross above the heads of customers at Osteria Da Divo, a homely and unique inn. The inn’s ambience is strongly connected to the city’s past: tuff was widely used by the population that inhabited Tuscany in ancient times, the Etruscans. Da Divo’s owners have even adapted a few niches in the walls as smaller, more intimate spaces for customers to enjoy their meal in unrivaled privacy. The menu presents typical dishes from Tuscany’s gastronomy, prepared with quality local produce and changed seasonally to make use of the freshest ingredients. Mushroom fans will be surprised by a special menu which offers a range of dishes with a common ingredient, a typical Italian (although not typically Tuscan) delicacy, the white truffle.
Via Franciosa 25, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 286054
Restaurant Numero Unico is named after the publication issued by the winning contrada (team) of the Palio, Siena’s beloved, historical horse race that represents an integral part of its culture. The luminous venue features a modern, sleek design, quite uncommon among the city’s restaurants. Also unique are the graphic design works and photographs on the white walls recalling the Palio. Numero Unico stands out with its eccentric menu. The chefs use local, exquisite culinary specialties, including Colonnata’s lard and Pienza’s pecorino, for the preparation of untraditional, surprising dishes, presented in inviting and eye-catching arrangements.
Via di Città 125, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 287909
Cava de’ Noveschi
In central Siena, next to the city’s awe-inspiring, romanesque Cathedral, is a treasure trove called Cava de’ Noveschi. This is a champagnerie, offering an outstanding selection of French and Italian champagnes and wines. The small upscale venue sports mirrors and Chesterfield-style panels covered with green velvet. Cava de’ Noveschi is equally worthwhile if enjoyed as a fine dining restaurant, where refined and surprising creations, many of which use champagne-soaked ingredients, await the customers. Those in doubt about what to order can ask the friendly chef Filippo Niccoli for advice.
Piaggia della Morte 8, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 274878
Cacio e Pere
A favorite among the younger crowds of Siena, Cacio e Pere is both a restaurant and a bar. In a relatively quiet city, this place brings its customers into a world of entertainment. Exhibitions from young, local artists and photographers are hosted here, and the venue frequently opens its doors to local theater companies to present their shows. However, the most successful events organized by Cacio e Pere’s owners are certainly the Aperitivi Musicali, a series of concerts and musical parties, each dedicated to a particular genre of music. The laid-back atmosphere, young clientele and friendly staff make Cacio e Pere a great way to spend an evening.
Via dei Termini 70, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 226804
Anyone with a special affection for tea will enjoy Siena’s Tea Room. The array of teas, herbs and infusions here is seemingly infinite, and accompanied by an equally diverse selection of mouth-watering, homemade pastries, cookies and cakes. Tea Room invites customers to while their time away while sipping a cup of tea in a cozy atmosphere. Vintage furnishings, comfy sofas and armchairs, beautiful hand-decorated teapots, dim lights and a fireplace make this Tea Room a peaceful retreat. It’s the perfect shelter in winter and a charming spot for a nightcap.
Tea Room, Via Porta Giustizia, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 222753
Despite Naples being the go-to destination for Italy’s best pizza, excellent pizzerias can certainly be found Siena too. Il Pomodorino stands out as one of the best pizzerias in the Tuscan city. Pizza here is prepared according to the traditional Neapolitan recipe, using top quality ingredients such as buffalo mozzarella and the pizzas are baked in wood ovens. The restaurant also boasts a wonderful view and you can even glimpse Siena’s Cathedral, Mangia Tower and St. Dominic’s Basilica.
Via Camporegio 13, Siena, Italy, +39 0577 286811