The Best Restaurants in Lecce, Italy

Orecchiette pasta with tomato and basil
Orecchiette pasta with tomato and basil | © MARKA / Alamy Stock Photo
Mary Jane Dempsey

Known as the ‘Rome of the South,’ Lecce is steadily becoming a more and more popular destination for travelers. Although tourists may come to the city for its excellent examples of Baroque architecture, they’ll stay for the culinary culture that only a city in Puglia can offer. Read on to learn about the 10 best trattorias, osterias and ristorantes in Lecce.

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Blu Notte

Just a few steps away from Porta San Biagio, Blu Notte offers its clientele the freshest fish dishes in an elegant modern setting. Perusing the vast menu, diners can choose from a wide range of meat-based entrées (such as traditional angus entrecôte, a premium steak), as well as a selection of fine wines from all over the region. Many diners start their meal with the mixed seafood platter, which offers a selection of the day’s locally caught fish. If you find yourself overwhelmed by Blue Notte’s plentiful options, the helpful staff will be happy to offer a suggestion.

L’Ostrica Ubriaca

L’Ostrica Ubriaca (‘The Drunk Oyster’) has become a major destination for seafood lovers in Lecce. Quality is of utmost importance at this venue, which operates as a fish market as well as a restaurant. After checking their clams three times over for freshness, the chef is finally ready to put them out for sale or prep them for your meal. The fish bar specializes in raw fish dishes, but also offers a number of grilled, fried, or baked seafood options. Though the restaurant is a half an hour from the center of town, the freshness you’ll find here is well worth the trip.

Corte dei Pandolfi

Corte dei Pandolfi‘s philosophy is to respect the simplicity of good handmade food, rather than getting distracted by culinary trends. Located in the historic center of Lecce near Piazzetta Orsini, this restaurant and wine bar utilizes local ingredients to prepare traditional dishes in a warm and inviting atmosphere. In fine weather, customers can dine outdoors and enjoy their meals paired with local wines in the venue’s courtyard seating.

Capriccio Divino

Located near Porta San Biagio, Capriccio Divino uses seasonal produce and local recipes to prepare traditional Pugliese dishes in a modern style. Though they’re kept busy by the restaurant’s popularity, the waiting staff is very attentive to their guests and always willing to offer recommendations. Located just outside the center of town, this is the perfect place to find some peace away from the more touristy parts of Lecce. Here you can relax and enjoy quality food at reasonable prices, such as the orecchiette with broccoli rabe or roast sword fish.

Mamma Lupa

If you’re hungry like a wolf and craving quality meat, head to Mamma Lupa (translation: ‘mother wolf’) for Lecce-style sausages, horse meatballs, and more. Those looking for a light first course or snack should order the bruschetta, a crisp bread appetizer served with fresh olive oil and toppings. Customers can walk off their meal by ambling over to the Roman amphitheater, which is just a few minutes away from the venue.

Trattoria il Rifugio della Buona Stella

The ‘Buona Stella’ in this restaurant’s name refers to the proprietors’ own grandmother, Stella, whose recipes inspired the menu at Trattoria il Rifugio della Buona Stella. The down-home atmosphere, friendly staff, and generous portions of flavorful pasta will make you feel like you’re one of the family, too. (The low price point doesn’t hurt, either.)

Le Quattro Spezierie

Le Quattro Spezierie offers a high-class dining experience and even higher seating options, with a rooftop garden above the main restaurant where guests can look out over Lecce while they dine. The waiters provide first class service to match the elegance of your surroundings, and the chef ensures that every dish out of his kitchen is made with only the freshest seasonal produce in the area.

Osteria degli Spiriti

A modest yet stylish venue in the heart of Lecce, Osteria degli Spiriti seeks to serve its guests excellent meals based on traditional fare from the Salento region of Italy. The owners, Tiziana and Piero, take the recipes they inherited from their grandparents and employ modern techniques to prepare the dishes. The combination of old and new produces some truly exciting results. The waiting staff is attentive, and pays particular care to those who have any food allergies.

Osteria del Pozzo Vecchio

Built over the remains of an older osteria (a simple restaurant) in the 1950s, Osteria del Pozzo Vecchio transports its clients back to the high era of osterias by serving old-fashioned eats in a retro atmosphere. Located just steps away from the old well marking the center of town, the menu offers traditional dishes from the Salento region. In the summer months, guests are welcome to enjoy their meals in the outdoor garden, where you can enjoy the warm breeze and take in the lush green surroundings while sampling grilled meats and fresh fish.

Le Zie Trattoria

Le Zie Trattoria serves nostalgic meals full of flavor in a dining room that feels like an old family home. This cozy venue is always packed at dinnertime, so reservations should be made well in advance to secure seating. Diners will appreciate the comfortable atmosphere, and the quality of the food prepared by Chef Anna and her staff. Be sure to ring the bell before entering.

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