During the Autumn, Tuscany’s restaurants are full of seasonal produce with wonderful Porcini salads (with mint & lemon) or Porcini Fritto – crunchy with fantastic soft mushroom within.
For anyone travelling to the Lucca region they should definitely explore 3 differing restaurants, the wine bar, the trat with a modern twist and a traditional family trattoria. Any other suggestions are always appreciated.
Enoteca Marcucci is set in beautiful Pietrasanta, the hometown of Michaelangelo, http://www.enotecamarcucci.it & Paul Smith’s favourite restaurant. An Enoteca is a wine bar, but this one is unique. It’s set amongst rows of expensive wines or during summer, outside in the street. Pietrasanta attracts the wealthy and chic from Milan and Turin; the Enoteca is so popular you have to get in early – Abramovich and his entourage were turned away which didn’t go down too well with Russians who are used to getting their own way. It isn’t cheap, but a memorable experience, with all the waiters dressed in black Armani.
5 kms away in Viareggio is a trattoria with a modern twist, Buonamicio http://www.trattoriabuonamico.it
Situated near the coast, this serves up great seafood, many influenced by the port of Livorno (likened to Marseille) resulting in strong pungent tomatoey fish soups – Cacciucco alla Livornese.
I am not a lover of Tuna, but good fresh Tuna is different. A chunky rare Tonno Rosso cooked over charcoal is special as was Buonamico’s sliced tuna.
Another alternative in Viareggio is a restaurant near the port serving the freshest daily caught fish http://www.ristorantedamiro.com This restaurant comes highly recommended by Antica Locanda chef, Aurelio Barattini
Of course there is no meal in Italy without Nonna’s apple pie.
Talking of La Nonna, there is a fantastic family restaurant set in Ponte A Moriano on the river Serchio. Antica Locanda has been a restaurant since 1368 and is a wonderful grand solid building. The dining experience is wonderful, the atmosphere serene, food brilliant and the family is the absolute heartbeat of the restaurant. Unsurprisingly this is our family’s favourite restaurant. http://www.anticalocandadisesto.it http://aureliobarattini.blogspot.co.uk
To start, I love the Zuppa Frantoiana, Cavolo Nero hearty veg soup or Pappa di Pomodoro, both drizzled with their wonderful olive oil. The Pappa changes with the season, fresher in the summer and heartier in the winter.
Mama, Raffaella makes the pasta and pudding with her mother, something they have worked together on for years. The menu changes seasonally apart from a few specials. One pasta I have never tasted before was the Gramigna del salsiccia, a thick beautiful curly pasta using a rare Tuscan pig for the Cinta Senese sausage.
Aurelio & his father, Adriano (master wine & olive oil maker) are in charge of the grill which uses olive wood but extracting the smoke so the flavour of the food isn’t effected. The Bistecca al Fiorentina is cooked to perfection and served as a tagliata with rocket or finely sliced artichokes (drizzle of olive oil). The steak takes 35 mins to cook, which amazes me as it is so rare in the middle and yet the olive wood burns at such a high temperature and is only 20-30 cm below the grill. The flavour is amazing, the best beef you’ll ever experience anywhere in the world.
The tables are served by Lambi, the youngest of the family, who quietly helps guests enjoy the experience.
Meanwhile across the pond, courtesy of ‘Big George Foreman’ is the alternative version – eat at your peril.
Nb: Please note none of the bbq dishes are genetically modified (or so they claim!)