Ristorante Ambrosia’s stunning interior | Courtesy of Ristorante Ambrosia
The small Tuscan hill town of Cortona in Arezzo, Italy is not only rich in beauty and culture but also boasts a vibrant dining scene. We round up Cortona’s very best local restaurants from typical Tuscan fare to gourmet burgers.
Nestled in Via Ghibellina, one of Cortona’s steepest and most enchanting streets, La Bucaccia is a charming restaurant focusing on typical Tuscan cuisine. Owner Romano Magi is a charcuterie and Denominazione di Origine Protettacheese connoisseur and his wife and chef Agostina is a champion of local cuisine. Guests are guaranteed a truly authentic dining experience with dishes like wild boar tartare and homemade tagliolino pasta with truffles on the menu. La Bucaccia’s locale is as delightful as its cuisine, boasting two cozy yet elegant dining rooms and a street-side terrace open during summer with gorgeous views out over Tuscany’s beautiful Chiana Valley.
While Tuscany may be better known for its wines, that doesn’t mean beer fans will be disappointed. The region’s craft brew scene is booming, and Cortona’s Birrificio Cortonese is no different. The cozy brewpub, opened in early 2013 in the town’s historic center, specializes in Tuscany-made beers served alongside a range of other Italian and imported beer. The light menu features plenty of pizza, focaccia, Tuscan and Bavarian-inspired sharing boards and other local dishes, making the perfect accompaniment to its craft brews.
Opened in 1980 and still owned and operated by original owners the Castelli family, Trattoria Dardano is one of Cortona’s most popular restaurants serving classic Tuscan cuisine. For a taste of local cuisine start with the crostini neri (chicken liver on toasted bread) appetizer followed by a bowl of ribollita (a hearty Tuscan soup of bread, beans and vegetables) before a meaty main of bistecca fiorentina (Florentine-style T-bone steak). Finish with a Tuscan-inspired dessert of cantucci biscuits, and wash it down with a glass or two of Trattoria Dardano’s local wines.
Chef and Cortona native Matteo Sciarri opened Ristorante Ambrosia in 2011. Located in an historic building featuring a partial glass floor giving way to views of the Etruscan-era well that sits below the restaurant, guests will be treated to unique dining experience. Chef Sciarri’s mix of traditional Tuscan and Mediterranean fare are highlighted by dishes like pappardelle pasta with wild boar ragu alongside plates such as roast suckling pig with black cabbage stew and spicy, creamy apple sauce.
A cozy, welcoming little place located in the historical heart of Cortona, Bar 500 has been serving its signature Italian eats for over a decade. Grab some snack-style fare like focaccia and panini sandwiches or stay for a full meal with daily special pasta dishes or made-to-order pizzas, all complemented by a range of Tuscan and Umbrian wines.
Opened in 1994 by chef Emiliano Rossi, Osteria del Teatro is a romantic restaurant located in a beautifully restored 6th-century building, offering a modern reinterpretation of traditional Tuscan cuisine. Combine antipasti like venison tartare with orange, fennel and black olives with dishes such as yellow squash gnocchi with a sweet-and-sour wild boar ragu. Follow this with a second courses of codfish with pureed chickpeas, capers and anchovies. To finish, try a Tuscan cheese plate or go for indulgent desserts like homemade gelato.
Diners looking for an alternative to Cortona’s delicious Tuscan cuisine can’t go wrong with a visit to Beerbone Art Burger. A recent addition to the town’s dining scene it specializes in gourmet burgers teamed with local craft beers. Popular options include the spicy tuna burger with calamari rings and wasabi mayo on a sesame seed bun, the venison burger and the spiced lamb burger with Sriracha mayo on a toasted English muffin.
Ristorante Preludio has maintained its reputation as one of Cortona’s best loved dining destinations since first opening almost 20 years ago. Traditional Tuscan cuisine updated for the modern palate and crafted in accordance with the seasons is the focus. On offer is ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and Cinta Senese pork, served with mascarpone and salmon roe, or snail-stuffed pigeon served on a bed of leeks with spicy herbs and a polenta flan. All complemented by an extensive list of Tuscan and international wines.
Bottega Baracchi is a truly local dining experience from its interior crafted from Tuscan-sourced materials, to its tempting cuisine focusing on Tuscan culinary traditions. Guests can opt for mouthwatering dishes like homemade pici pasta with traditional hot green tomato sauce or duck breast baked with spices and honey and served with shallots and spinach. Truly dedicated foodies can take part in Bottega Baracchi’s regular cooking lessons and demonstrations to learn the secrets behind the delicious cuisine.
As the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the province of Arezzo, Ristorante Falconiere is a must-do dining destination for any discerning foodie. Located on the outskirts of Cortona on the grounds of the luxury hotel and spa Relais Il Falconiere, the restaurant features panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Local chef Silvia Regi Baracchi oversees two menus brimming with the traditional flavors of Tuscany. Choose from an à la carte menu offering dishes like rabbit with tomato confit and black eye peas or a Chianina beef tasting menu, featuring fare like beef tartare or ossobuco with marrow cream and saffron.