Going for the weekend & need a couple of casual/midrange places in town.
The sort of place where a crowd of workmates can get some good food, drink a little too much wine, have a good conversation, etc. Preferably not needing reservations - you know how these sort of weekends can meander on to something different ;-)
We just got back from a 2-week vacation in Italy, including two nights in Lucca. Two of our best dinners were at Gli Orti di Via Elisa, an informal place on the east side of the walled city, close to our hotel. I believe this is a sibling restaurant to the pricier Buca di Sant' Antonio, recommended so often here.
Some of the great dishes we had were the zuppa di farro, tordelli, and capretto al forno, but everything we tried was excellent. A special highlight for us was the great list of 1/2 bottles of wine, heavy on the delicious local Montecarlo and Colline Lucchesi selections. The Buonamico Montecarlo was especially nice. We had several pricier meals earlier in the trip, so the high quality for lower prices was particularly appreciated - about 55 euros for two, including two courses and the half-bottle of wine. Highly recommended!
Just returned last Sat from a week in Lucca. This was the 2nd time we stayed there. Buca St. Antoine is good but this trip we found it a bit lacking. Canuleia of via Canuleia near P.Anfiteatro is wonderful and has an outside garden. Very moderate. Not open for lunch. 2 other little gems we found this time: Prosciutto e Melone on Via Anfiteatro was really good. cool place. i Santi, which was recommended to us by a local is a tiny 8-10 table vineria that serves really good food. It has a limited menu but good is very good. lovely staff. very charming. enjoy.
San Quirico di Moriano is a NW suburb, and a couple of years ago we took a 'villa' somewhat further out. Several nights returning home we passed a brightly lit place with lots of cars parked by the road in front. Finally one night we went for dinner. A very warm welcome, and only two of the six of us had any rudimentary Italian.
The house antipasto included lardo. When we raved about it, the proprietor's chest bulged out, he thumped it (his chest) and said he made it himself, and then proceeded to tell us the efforts involved. House wines, whatever they were were also fabulous.
Dinner for six came to $90 - it was 2002, before the Euro.
Not sure if it might be a little less casual than you re looking for, I have to recommend my favorite (and in fact the only) place I have eaten in Lucca (twice). Buca di San Antonio has excellent food, a sort of rustic elegant atmosphere, and excellent service. The prices are moderate. The distinguishing characteristic is that the dishes were more interesting than the standard menus we found around Tuscany, where every restaurant except the most expensive seems to have the exact same menu.