Wedding in Lucca, Italy - need restaurants/catering/chef
i'm getting married this october in Lucca (and i can't wait), but would love some recommendations on restaurants and perhaps caterers for the actual even at the villa.
- a spot for the rehersal dinner, about 30 people
- breakfast/lunch/dinner spots just to go to and recommend to guest (any surrounding area)
can you weigh in on what i've heard so far:
- Buca San Antonio: most popular
- Il Ristorante Olivo: can't find it
- La Mora: sounds good for tuscan steak, expensive
- Canuleia: can't find it
- for the actual wedding dinner
- doesn't need to be fancy, just authentic, delicious, family style
- one long table with 30 people, sharing
- things to do
- things to see
My family and I have spent two weeks in Lucca during the summer for the past three years. Here's my take on your list, plus a couple of additions.
Buca Di San Antonio - Mediocre. Not bad, but far from the best food in town. Most of the seating is in the basement, which is musty. Very friendly atmosphere. I had the goat, and in spite of what a number of other posters have said, it's "missable" in my book. Prices are moderate.
Ristorante All'Olivo (you'll find it in the Piazza San Quirico) - Excellent. Great fish, and some very good pasta dishes. I've eaten there close to a dozen times over the last few years, and the food has always been outstanding. Friendly and very competent service, great seating both indoors and outdoors. Do not miss the Tiramisu for desert, which is creative, and one of the best deserts I've ever had. Expensive.
Ristorante Puccini (in the Corte San Lorenzo) - Also excellent. Very good rabbit sauce with pasta, and an eggplant appetizer that I may never forget. Small and quiet outdoor seating area, not sure about inside. Expensive.
Ristorante La Cecca (just outside of town off the old road to Pisa, via di Coselli, 55) - Very good to excellent. This is my favorite place in Lucca. On any given day, the food might be a half a notch down from All'Olivo or Puccini, but for quality for the price it can't be beat. It has a beautiful outside seating area, and friendly wait staff. Try the faro salad, stuffed zuchinni blossoms, duck sauce over pasta, and don't miss the grilled lamb chops. Inexpensive to Moderate.
Da Leo - Good. We didn't eat here this year, but did last year. It's inexpensive and friendly. I don't think their food stands up to the three above.
We have never gone to La Mora, my impression is that it's fairly formal (Michelin 1 star). I found a post from someone on Chow said they went and didn't enjoy it, so we didn't make the drive.
Cafe Cupido (outside the walls, near the train station) has great coffee in the morning, and great pizza for the rest of the day.
As far as a caterer, you could hold the whole party at La Cecca, their seating area is big enough and they seem to occasionally have large parties. If nothing else, I'm sure they can recommend a local catering outfit (if they don't do it themselves).
One of the blessings/curses of Lucca is that it doesn't have that much in the way of tourist attractions. I'd suggest a drive to Barga one day, which is up in the mountains north of Lucca. It's a beautiful little mountaintop town. There's a good restaurant for lunch not far from where you start the climb up towards the chapel, but I can't remember the name. They serve pecorino cheese with honey and walnuts - pretty tasty. Also, don't miss the Devil's Bridge, maybe about halfway from Lucca to Barga.
About the same distance to the south is Volterra. A very pretty, but quite touristy walled town. The museum there has the Etruscan statue of "The Shade", and is otherwise a nice little museum. Il Poggio (Via Porta All' Arco, 7) is a serious cut above the type of restaurant you'd expect to find in a small tourist town like Volterra. Try the steak or lasagna.
Visit some of the local wineries around Lucca if you're interested in wine. Fattoria del Buonamico makes very good wine. The owner there is a very interesting guy who spent a lot of time in France learning how to make his wines better, and brought back some French varietals to try in Tuscany. Other wineries we liked were Terre Del Sillabo and Valle del Sole.
If you haven't been to Florence to see the Uffizi, you should -- one of the best museums on the planet.
If you haven't been to Pisa, I suppose you have to go once. But once is absolutely enough in my book.
Siena is beautiful and definitely worth seeing, though it's something of a hike from Lucca.
Hope you have a great time, and a great wedding. Best wishes!