May 7, 2016

Italy offers so many wonderful culinary treats and unlike other world cuisines it caters for the family.

In Ponte a Moriano, we have a wonderful gelateria, which is open until 23.00. All the ice creams are home-made and also available to take home to the freezer. One of the charms is watching teenagers innocently eating ice cream (rather than pouring beer down their throats) or older relatives eating ice cream with their grand children – wonders of Italy’s ageless society. In Lucca, one of the best gelateria’s is Grom, half way along the main shopping street, Via Filungo.

Ponte a Moriano has a wonderful delicatessen opposite the car park at the far right of the square, beyond the post office. He cooks wonderful food to take home, delicious slices of roast beef/ meats, home made pastas etc. We drop off our dishes for Alessandrio to make up lasagnes & aubergine parmigiana, which we collect the next morning. On Friday, he prepares lots of fish dishes – fritto misto and an Italian favourite baccala (salt cod). This is often sauteed in olive oil or with tomatoes; it is amazing. The shop is only open in the mornings and shuts at about 13.30.

On Tuesday morning there is a market in the main square at Ponte a Moriano. You can buy fruit & veg, clothes, local cheese & honey, plus a wonderful fish truck with squid, octopus, prawns, clams and wonderful selection of very fresh fish from the fishing boats at Viareggio.

Also in the square, is a restaurant / pizzeria, Da Pinza. Tony cooks 200+ pizzas an evening and the best dishes are on the board. It is very popular with locals, it’s very bright, not romantic but offers good food at excellent value. My favourite pizza is Bianca, version without the tomato sauce. It is based with mozzarella, then Parma ham which can be put on the hot pizza cold (crudo) or cooked in the oven (crudo). I prefer it raw as it soon cooks in. This is then topped with marscapone cream. I call it the indulgent Italian bacon sandwich!

I was rather surprised to see at a 13th birthday party, the children eating chips & sliced frankfurter pizzas – I never thought I would see that in Italy! DA PINZA: Via Nazionale, 1207 – Ponte a Moriano (Ponte A Moriano Square) Tel: 0583 577 760. Closed Wednesday. Take aways & take away pizzas

On our side of the river is an excellent family trattoria called Antica Locanda di Sesto. This has existed for hundreds of years and serves wonderful Tuscan seasonal food, from their farm. Aurelio is the 40 year chef, who also cooks all over the world at special events & Lambi, the front of house with mother Raphaela. One of their pastas is crispy Cinta Senese (rare breed pig) pigs cheek tossed with the pasta & water in a wheel of pecorino. This is the best pasta dish in the world although my wife would say their seasonal truffle & mushroom taglioni is even better!!

Antica is a wonderful serene restaurant, great food and Raphaela graceful chooses the most charming staff. Our favourite restaurant & wonderful family, 10 mins by car from the house. Aurelio is famous for his Bistecca di Fiorentina steaks and other meats, cooked on his wonderful olive wood grill. Via Ludovica, 1660, 55100, West side of Ponte a Moriano.
Tel: (0039) 0583 578181 Closed on Saturday. Must book

There are lots of other good local restaurants:
Botteghino is an amazing Osteria, very simple & cheap, no frills, with the best pasta – Macheroni with mushrooms, Tordelli (local Lucca meat ravioli) & pasta picanti – slightly spiced tomato sauce.We love this pasta.
Mains: Roast beef – wonderful pink beef slices, Trippa (tripe with tomatoes), Baccala (salt cod), Fritto Pollo, Coniglio – Tuscan fried meat (chicken, rabbit in bread crumbs) & Beef steaks. On Friday they have a Livornese fish soup, similar to Bouillabaisse, which is really good (very busy, so must book).
Via di Matraia 1505, San Pancrazio 55100. Tel: 0583 406 406

Erasmo: On the river 500m North of Ponte a Moriano, Parking 50m behind. Pleasant family & environment, but grilled meat has sometimes been over cooked.

Butterfly: Michelin starred fish restaurant, on road to Lucca, 100-200m from Esse Lunga roundabout Tel: (0039) 0583 307 573 SS.12 del Brennero, 192 Marlia, Lucca

Ristorante/ Pizzeria La Fenice Morianese di Morinese – Via di Morianese, San.Cassiano di Morianese 4600, 55100 San Cassiano di Morianese (LU) – good food at a very reasonable price (Good insalate di mare, pasta, pizzas, fritto misto, steaks etc). Well run, pleasant environment near our house.
Closed Tuesday. 0583 578 786

Il Giglio.We love this town restaurant, especially the risotto with wine reduction, superb. We prefer to sit inside, in the summer, you may want to sit under the window for a little breeze. Very good food & service. Must book
Piazza del Giglio 2, Lucca Tel: (0039) 0583 494058

San Bartolomeo, Via dell’Anfiteatro 29/A 55100, Lucca 39 0583 496 124

Pieve Santo Stefano:
VIPORE: Positioned in a lovely country location, a 25 minute beautiful drive away at Pieve Santo Stefano (west of Lucca). Tel: 0583 394 065. This restaurant had a good reputation in the 1980’s & 90’s, but perhaps now the lovely drive & views are more memorable than the food! The starters & pastas are good but main courses aren’t good. Hopefully, this will change.

MATRAIA area – 20-25 mins:

Ristorante Pizzeria ‘Le Colonne, Via Communale Matraia, 23, Matraia. Tel: +39 0583 402390 – lovely area, out door seating and nice 30′s dining room. Good food, fair price, full of locals

Osteria Da Giomo, Via di Mezzo, 3, Valgiano (infront of church). +39 340 8562675. Closed Monday & lunchtime. No menu/ daily dishes, great popular local – good food & excellent value

Ristorante Da Miro – Superb seafood restaurant on the harbour wall. Wonderful cold & hot mixed starters, superb pastas & fish. Try the Cacciucco, a strong tomatoey fish soup main course, similar to bouillabaisse
Via Coppino Michele 289 – Viareggio (LU) | Tel. 0584 384065

Trattoria Buonamico: This restaurant was recommended to us by the lovely lady at Dahlia Beach club is situated 1Km inland from the beach, Via S.Andrea 27, Viareggio. Tel: 0584 943 266 This is a very well run trattoria with wonderful daily specials (lots of fish) and a perfect way to end the day after the beach. Excellent.

L’Enoteca Marcucci – Tel: 0584 791 962 La Cantina dell’Enotecca Marcucci, Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 40, 55045 Pietrsanta Closed Monday
Very cool town & restaurant., not cheap but great experience

Casone, Garfagnana:
Il Casone, this is run by a wonderful man, Guiseppe and serves lovely mountain food. In the winter it is a ski resort, summer outdoor activities but the restaurant & hotel is always open and serves wonderful food after a stunning 1hour drive. Localita’ Casone di Profecchia – Castiglione di Garfagnana (Lu) 55033 – Tel. +39 0583 649028

We would love to know your discoveries? There are lots of good restaurants, but these are some of our regular haunts.
Follow some simple philosophies, such as eat fish on Friday & not on Monday, eat fish when by the sea and stews & more wholesome foods when in the mountains.
Italians dont like paying tax, so they don’t tip.
House red, in the UK this is often looked down on but in Italy it is excellent, local and should represent the quality of the restaurant (about €12/ 15/ litre).
Buon appetito

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