Pisa Food Guide: What to Eat and Where
Pisa is a must-visit on any itinerary of Italian cities, and not just for the iconic leaning tower. Pisa is an artistic and multicultural town with a myriad of historic churches and squares and is the home of one of the most renowned universities in Italy, the Scuola Normale Superiore, founded in 1810.
Additionally, sitting very close to the Ligurian Sea, Pisa historically was a melting pot of cultures and peoples, bringing together travelers and sailors from different countries and ethnicities. This melting pot inevitably influenced the local culture and, of course, its culinary traditions.
Many of the traditional local dishes found today in Pisa derive from those old maritime traditions. Let’s round-up some of the best foods to try in Pisa and give you some tips on where to find them.
1. Bordatino alla Pisana
Photo Credit: Monica Bottoni
If you ask a local what is a symbolic dish of Pisa, they would probably answer Bordatino, without hesitation. Made with beans, black cabbage, and cornflour, this local dish has been a staple for centuries and remains a daily offering in many households.
Where to eat the best Bordatino alla Pisana in Pisa
- Hostaria Le Repubbliche Marinare
Photo Credit: Hostaria Le Repubbliche Marinare
A few blocks from Palazzo Blu, just south of the river, lies Hostaria Le Reppubbliche Marinare, a maritime-style restaurant which certainly does justice to the town’s history and culinary expertise! Here you will find a great variety of fish-based specialties and, of course, the much-loved Bordatino.
“I strictly follow my grandmother’s recipe”, says Giampiero Mugnai, the renowned chef of this traditional Italian trattoria. Being made exclusively with seasonal ingredients, you will only find Bordatino on the menu at a specific time of year – so, make sure you plan your trip well!
2. Pasta e Ceci
This creamy chickpea pasta has been a staple in Tuscan culinary tradition for centuries. Thanks to its low cost and high protein content, chickpeas have always been extremely popular with farmers as a alternative to historically expensive meat.
But from being a dish for the poor, Pasta e Ceci has become known as a refined first course and is served with aplomb in some of the top gourmet restaurants in Tuscany.
Where to eat the best Pasta e Ceci in Pisa
Trattoria da Stelio is a small restaurant in the heart of Pisa, with a stylish rustic, down-to-earth vibe. The paintings and handmade bone china plates hanging on the wall give it an authentic touch, which is only confirmed by the unique taste of the dishes they serve.
Pasta e Ceci is one of the many excellent recipes that truly won’t disappoint!
Named in honor of the famous physicist and astronomer from Pisa, Ristorante Galileo’s mission is to revive history through its flavors and aromas.
Combining DOP- and IGP-recognized ingredients with artisanal cooking methods, the restaurant offers a wonderful gastronomic experience you will not forget!
Chickpeas are once again the main protagonist of this simple yet delicious delicacy. Known by various names throughout Italy, Cecina is thought to have originated by accident on the gulf of Pisa in the 13th Century.
According to tradition, ancient ships transporting staple ingredients such as chickpea, flour, and oil got caught in a terrible storm causing the cargo to get mixed together, producing a wonderfully unexpected creation!
Where to eat the best Cecina in Pisa
A small pizzeria placed between Borgo Stretto and Piazza dei Cavalieri is specifically known for its mouth-watering Cecina. Don’t forget to order it inside a focaccia bun!
Photo Credit: Ristorante Da Nando
If all that shopping around Corso Italia has made you hungry, make sure to make a quick pit stop at Nando to try a slice of the traditional Cecina. With a super thin, crunchy outer layer inside you’ll find it deliciously creamy.
4. Trippa alla Pisana
Tripe is one of the most popular ingredients in Italian cuisine. How it is cooked varies from region to region, as it pairs perfectly with local ingredients and products. What makes the recipe from Pisa so unique, though, is the addition of onions and pancetta, which give it a sweet and salty richness.
Where to eat the best Trippa in Pisa
Ristoro Pisano is a hidden gem in a quiet area in the center of Pisa. One of a great variety of local dishes served here, Trippa is undoubtedly one you should try here at least once in your life!
Located just a few blocks away from Piazza dei Miracoli, Il Ristoro della Pè is a restaurant much-loved by locals seeking to escape the tourist traps in search of tradition and gastronomic savoir-faire.
5. Stoccafisso alla Pisana
Stoccafisso is the name given in certain regions of Italy to cod that is naturally dried, unlike Baccalà – one of Italy’s favorite Christmas foods, which is first salted and then dried.
In this delicious recipe from Pisa, stoccafisso is cooked in a hearty, chunky potato and tomato-based sauce seasoned with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Where to eat the best Stoccafisso in Pisa
Awarded with a Michelin Star in 2023, Osteria dei Cavalieri presents local and regional gastronomy in a wonderful union of tradition and innovation. Cooked with a unique touch, the Stoccafisso alla Pisana served here will blow you away!
- Trattoria da Cucciolo
The restaurant bearing the name Dopey, one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs, is one the historic trattorias of Pisa where prices are low and quality is unmistakably excellent! Dishes are prepared according to tradition, replacing glamor and sophistication with a genuine attention to authenticity and quality.
Pallette is a specific term used in Pisa to refer to a special way of making polenta resulting in a very moist polenta topped with a ragù or mushroom sauce. This delicious recipe is typically served during local city fairs but can be found at any time in many restaurants and trattorias.
Where to eat the best Palette in Pisa
As we have already seen, this is an exquisite little restaurant renowned for the simple and delicious Pasta ai Ceci. But a visit here will leave you with a tough choice, as Palette is also considered one of the restaurant’s winning dishes! If the choice is too much, give them both a try!
In San Giuliano just a few kilometers from the center of Pisa, you will find a glamorous, dreamy hotel in an old Tuscan farmhouse surrounded by countryside.
If you’re looking to spend a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this little corner of paradise is just what you’re looking for! Don’t forget to order the traditional Palette – an absolute must-have on their top-class gourmet menu.
7. Trenette alla Renaiola
Photo Credit: Trattoria Sant’ Omobono
Trenette alla Renaiola is a staple dish from ancient times made by the sailors who transport sand – rena in Italian – in big wooden boats. Trenette is a type of long, ruffled pasta, similar to tagliatelle, seasoned in a bright green turnip and herring pesto sauce.
Where to eat the best Trenette alla Renaiola in Pisa
- Trattoria Sant’ Omobono
Pursuing quality over quantity, this small cozy restaurant has just a few simple dishes on the menu, which focus on the use of prime ingredients and traditional cooking techniques. Trenette is a must-have here!
- Trattoria da Cucciolo
The chef of this renowned historic trattoria is undoubtedly who you need to thank for recreating a traditional family recipe for Trenette alla Renaiola. This unique version has been passed down from generation to generation, landing now in one of the best restaurants in town!
But Pisa is not all about local dishes and when you get that pizza craving, you have to know where is best to go!
Where to eat the best Pizza in Pisa
- La Taverna di Pulcinella
If you’re looking for a sit-down pizzeria which is authentically Neapolitan, then La Taverna di Pulcinella is definitely calling you. With a great variety of combinations and ingredients, their delicious pizzas will undoubtedly make your stay truly memorable.
Nando is by far the king of outlets for all Italian street-food. From pizza to Cecina and focaccia, this pizzeria al taglio has been a local landmark for years.
9. Torta co’ Bischeri
Dating back to Medieval times, Torta co’ Bischeri is a delicious chocolate-based cake. The shortcrust pastry casing is filled with dark chocolate, rice, cocoa, raisins, candied fruit and pine nuts and it is then decorated with pastry strips, the so-called bischeri, which are said to resemble guitar tuning pegs.
Where to eat the best Torta co’ Bischeri in Pisa
- Pasticceria da Tripoli Domenichini Sergio
Located north of the river Arno, this patisserie is the perfect spot to get your takeaway cakes and desserts, and Torta co’ Bischeri is probably the single most delicious cake they make!
- Ristorante Il Toscano
But if you’re hoping to taste a slice of the cake in a restaurant, then Ristorante Il Toscano is the place to go! Located just a few blocks away from the famous Piazza dei Cavalieri, this beautiful restaurant is a great spot for trying out local sweet and savoury delicacies!
Castagnaccio is a typical autumnal dessert made with chestnut flour, pine nuts, raisins and rosemary. This dessert was extremely popular with peasants and farm workers as chestnuts were inexpensive, nutritious and widespread.
Dating back to the 1500s, it is not until the 1800s that Castagnaccio became a popular dessert with the gentry, when it was enriched with raisins and pine nuts in order to elevate it to a more sophisticated treat.
Where to eat the best Castagnaccio in Pisa
- La Vecchia Cascina
Photo Credit: La Vecchia Cascina
This cozy restaurant just outside the center of Pisa is the place to savor traditional Tuscan dishes, such as Castagnaccio, made with its own unique touch that makes it irresistibly creamy.
- Pasticceria da Tripoli Domenichini Sergio
This delicious patisserie makes one of the best Castagnaccio in town – make sure to buy an extra slice for later when the craving will return!