The Best Restaurants in Pisa, Tuscany

The historic centre of Pisa is full of restaurants where you can enjoy a long lunch
The historic centre of Pisa is full of restaurants where you can enjoy a long lunch | © Simona Abbondio / Alamy Stock Photo
Suzy Pope

Restaurants in Pisa embrace the slow-food ethos of wider Tuscany, where family-run trattorias use the natural bounty of the surrounding countryside for cooking generations-old recipes. In the shadow of the Leaning Tower, the jumbled historic centre is packed with all kinds of places to linger over a long Italian lunch. Rustic restaurants, fine dining and cheap student eats are all on the cards in this historic city in Italy.

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Trattoria Sant’Omobono

Housed in the dramatic interior of an old 11th-century church, Trattoria Sant’Omobono is an old-style trattoria in the heart of Pisa. Ingredients are sourced fresh from the green market right outside the restaurant’s door, and the menu is all about the Tuscan and Pisan specialities of days gone by. Dishes on offer change with the season, but cross your fingers that the duck ragu or the pasta with rabbit and olives are on offer when you visit.

La Pergoletta

Trailing botanica tumbling from pergola beams creates the ultimate romantic setting in this quiet little restaurant. But it’s not just the atmosphere and environment that draws the crowds; generous portions of seasonal Tuscan cuisine leave diners feeling warm and fuzzy. The wild boar pasta makes for a hearty meal, while the seafood risotto is umami-rich and studded with plump, juicy mussels in their shells. The pièce de résistance has to be the leaning tower of pastry with a rich, chocolate core – a huge dessert paying homage to the main attraction in the city. Bellissimo.

Trattoria da Stelio

Restaurant namesake, Stelio, has run the kitchen here since 1965, and this buzzing lunchtime trattoria is made for long meals that run deep into the afternoon. The place comes alive with chatter amid the paraphernalia-covered walls inside or on the sunny terrace outside. Choose from an array of daily specials chalked up on a blackboard presented at your table. The seafood stew is a rich medley of fresh octopus and clams, and you can’t go wrong with the pillowy home-made ravioli. Finish with a soft tiramisu or the satisfying crack of a perfectly torched crème brûlée. Despite its central location and delicious food, this one’s easy on the wallet, too.

Pane e Vino

The main draw of this tucked-away little wine bar in a quiet piazza is the charcuterie sharing platters. Wooden boards are piled high with garlicky mortadella, spicy salami and mozzarella still dripping with creamy moisture. The produce is straight from the nearby rolling hills of Tuscany and fully embraces the slow-food movement. The wine list is ultra-regional, with the finest Pisan vintages and full-bodied reds from the undulating terroir of Tuscany at the forefront. The majority of the seating is outside, scattered across the piazza, but there’s a smattering of bench seats and cosy nooks inside, too.

La Buca 2

This one is for seafood lovers. Each fish dish has been designed to let the fruits of the sea speak for themselves. The crispy whitebait and hand-cut chips need nothing more than a pinch of salt and zap of lemon juice to elevate their flavour, while the classic seafood pasta topped with juicy mussels, salty clams and whole prawns comes al dente and with a kick of garlic and white wine. A little off the beaten track, this place is a local favourite, and its position away from the main tourist drag is reflected in the price tag.

Osteria Dei Cavalieri

Osteria dei Cavalieri (Knight’s Tavern) has all the trappings of a typical rusticana restaurant. Think wooden tables and chairs, whitewashed walls and wine bottles lining the shelves of every wall. However, the food is the focus here, and the traditional Pisan cuisine is plated beautifully with sweeps of sauce framing cuts of meat still rose-pink in the middle. The fare may be presented like fine dining, but it’s all hearty portions of pulses and beans elevated from traditional “peasant food” with rich emulsions and broths.

Offish – Officina del Mar

Not your average fish restaurant, this place specialises in seafood burgers. Of course, you still have your standard seafood pasta, lobster ravioli and langoustine gnocchi on the menu (this is Italy, after all). But dishes like the prawn burger featuring sea-fresh prawns, a creamy carpaccio of avocado and tartar-style salsa is what sets this place apart. A far cry from a Big Mac, the fresh seafood-based burgers – not a soggy patty in sight – are set between squid-ink or brioche buns.

Gusto Giusto

There may not be an English menu, but that’s just a testament to the local charm of this restaurant. The super-friendly waiters will happily translate anything for you, and you’ll recognise all the Italian staples we’ve come to expect. Pizza, pasta and tiramisu, tried and tested – why stray from the classics? The difference here is that it’s all made from locally grown, fresh produce. So, feel free to order all of the clichés here, as each and every one has been honed to perfection.

Looking for more insider tips? Make a plan to leave the city behind; if you’re not convinced, here are our top reasons why you should explore Tuscany. To help you plan your itinerary, here are must-visit attractions in Tuscany that you absolutely have to check out. For a restful night of sleep, we recommend one of the best hotels in Lucca, or if you find yourself a little further afield, one of the best hotels in San Gimignano – bookable via Culture Trip.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Annie Foyster.

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