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Siena Recommendations Wanted

This coming Palm Sunday evening, my train arriving c.1830hrs from Rome, until Holy Wednesday early morning I’ll be in Siena. I welcome Chowhounders’ judgements and recommendations for dining.

My emphasis, in order of decreasing importance:

i. first and foremost: the cuisine of Siena and her environs
ii the wine of the same (or the wine of Orvieto)
iii. one or two fine dining places
iv. several places less expensive yet still Chowhound quality
v. at least one place where the emphasis is on the wine but also serves a meal
vi. at least one place on the campo
vii. within walking distance, my hotel in the middle of the city; yet if a place is really worth it, and a taxi will take me there, I’ll consider it.

I’ll need five recommendations, two recommendations for “dinner” (“lunch” to you Yankees), and three recommendations for supper. And because the hotel might charge too much for breakfast, any place for a simple breakfast of cappuccino and cornetto.

I’ve done my homework! Below is the result of my searching Chowhounders on Siena in the past two years. And because our own M Fant doesn’t have a book out on Siena (as far as I know), I’ve consulted Plotkin _Italy For the Gourmet Traveler_ (hereafter P), the Michelin _Italia 2009_ (M), and the latest _Blue Guide Tuscany_ (B)

Here’s the Chowhounder list, alphabetical:

1. Buca, La
2. Cane e Gatto
3. Canto, Il
4. Caroccio, Il
5. Castelvecchio, Osteria (also recommended by P )
6. Chiacchera, Osteria la
7. Divo, Antica Osteria da
8. Logge, Osteria le, also M P B
9. Morbidi
10. Mugolene, Ristorante M P
11. Nonna Gina, Osteria
12. Papei, Al, aka "Trattoria Papei", M
13. Tamburino, Osteria Il
14. Terzi, Enoteca i
15. Torre, Trattoria La (A thorough report from tupac17616) B

P also recommends:

16. L’ Osteria (also B)
17. La Vecchia Tarverna del Bacco
18 Grotta di Santa Caterina da Bagoga
19. Enoteca Italiana di Siena (does it serve meals or it just wine?)

B also recommends:

20. Tre Cristi (also M)
21. Le Campane

And M also recommends:

22. Al Mangia (appears to be right on the Campo)
23. Enzo
24. La Taverna di San Giuseppe
25. Nello “La Taverna”

Your updates, confirmations, additions, subtractions, praise, and blame, all are most welcome. Thanks beforehand, and I’ll reciprocate with a long report upon my return.

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  1. During our last visit in Nov.09 we really enjoyed La Taverna di San Giuseppe (twice) and Osteria Boccon del Prete. There's also a sort of deli/winebar/grocery store in Piazza del mercato where we had very good sandwiches and wine by the glass (lunch only I guess).
    On the main streets there's a big grocery store called Consorzio Agrario Siena, the local coop, where you'll find an amazing selection of local delicacies including extra vergin olive oil, porcini mushrooms, black truffle oil, super tuscans, wide selection of cured meets including Falorni's and so on at very reasonable price.
    Enjoy:-)

    Nancy

    1. Hi Sid,
      Good choices of restaurants although my erstwhile favourite of Al Papei has gone down a tad so I would suggest removing it from the list. Grotta di Santa Caterina da Bagogna excellent. as is L'Osteria (which is very simple but very good). Il Caroccio is also v good and L'Aquila which is just up the road from Il Caroccio is good too. All these restaurants are very traditionally Senese. I was there for a week last August (and have spent several weeks there so know it pretty well) and there are 2 other restaurants which you should very strongly consider and I will email again tomorrow. Le Campane is very good as well, be careful because they sometimes bring more expensive bottles "by mistake" is the Fonterutoli chianti was exchanged for the Castello Fonterutoli which was more than double the price!

      I would also like to make the following suggestions - to leave Al Mangia just for drinks; the enoteca Italiana is just drinks but is not worth the trek and Morbidi is probably shopping. Le Logge is pretty expensive but good. I will also let you know some places to avoid!.

      Where are you staying? I have always stayed at Borgo Grondaie which is a little outside the centre but brilliant and very reasonable.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LotsC

        LotsC
        Your hotel looks good but how do you get into Siena? We want a place with parking as we will take day trips but would also like to walk into the city or, at least, have some form of transportation into the downtown. In our last visits to Siena, parking was a major problem.

        1. re: LotsC

          Thanks for your reply! Fill me in on your "two other restauranst" which I "should strongly consider".

        2. The only place I can clearly remember from Siena was the San Paolo Pub right on the Campo. One of the most incredible sandwiches I've ever had anywhere. They have a long menu of hot toasted sandwiches, it would be a great inexpensive stop for lunch.

          http://www.sanpaolopub.com/

          1. Sid, hope you had a good time in Siena. Eager to know your dining experiences there.

            1. We returned from Siena last week and had good meals at the Osteria le Loggia, good lamb with the best santo/biscotti plate of the trip.We were, however, ushered up to the second floor with the tourist. Make sure you make a reservation and ask for a downstairs table. Nello la Taverna has a wonderful owner who will make suggestions for your meal. We had beef steak and moist apple cake with santo. In addition we had one of the best lunches of the trip at Hosteria Il Carroccio, Via Casato di Sotto 32 where the pork stew on polenta and veal stew and white beans where excellent.

              3 Replies
              1. re: POY

                thanks for the report. How was parking this time?

                1. re: kyeblue

                  We stayed at a hotel right outside of the Pallini gate and walked into town (800 meters to the Duomo.) The hotel had free parking!

                2. re: POY

                  My wife had that pork stew on polenta a few weeks ago at Il Carroccio and she is still talking about it. Our whole dinner, food, wine & service, was outstanding.

                3. Sid, which did you end up going to and what did you think of them? Will be in Siena for 3 nights in June. thanks

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: uncledunkel

                    I ate with pleasure in four places, about which I plan to do Chowhoundian reviews:

                    1. Hosteria il Carrocio, Via Casato di Sotto, 32 Tel 0577/41.165
                    2. Ristorante Grotta Santa Caterina, via della Galluzza, 26, Tel 0577 28.22.08
                    3. L'Osteria, via dei Rossi, 79/81, Tel 0577 28 75 92
                    4. And for a fine dining place, with an extensive wine list: Le Logge Due, via del Porrione 33, (don't have phone #)

                    I thank LotsC above for suggesting 1-3.

                    In addition, if sitting outside on the Campo, Al Mangia will do, though I thought the wine list a bit short, the food not quite as good as above, and you're paying for the location. Still, the food isn't bad and you have the option of sitting on one of Europe's most impressive civic squares. Al Mangia, Il Campo 43, Tel.: 0577 28 11 21

                    Stay tuned to this board; you've prompted me to review my experience in Siena before mine in Rome.

                    1. re: Sid Cundiff

                      thanks, also headed to Rome on my trip, but there's a lot more info on this board for Rome than Siena

                      1. re: Sid Cundiff

                        Hi Sid,
                        Pleased you had a fab time in SIena - I love it and apologies for not having gotten back to you sooner, I haven't logged in for some time.

                        Best wishes,

                        LotsC

                        1. re: LotsC

                          Thanks, LotsC. Your recommendations made my day. I too have been away for a while. I posted some time back "Siena Report #1. I'll get to Siena #2 shortly.

                          1. re: Sid Cundiff

                            Hi, Sid! I didn't do any research on Siena for my upcoming trip and used my chow-dar to find L'Osteria on via dei Rossi. We really enjoyed it and I'm glad to see it's gotten some other good reports here.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              Thanks, Ruth. My meal there was fine, and the owner have me a 2nd shot of grappa, even though it was my first time there.

                    2. we loved la taverna di san giuseppe when we went in september '09. among other things, we ordered pasta with truffles (took the waiter's recommendation to do half gnocchi, half fettucine) and when he came out with the truffle, he started grating it over my pasta and said "tell me when to stop" -- unheard of in many other restaurants where they carefully place 3 truffle shavings on top of pasta and tack $20 onto the cost!
                      also make sure to get a tour of the wine cellar which used to be a house in like 200 b.c... they'll show you the pick marks on the walls which is how they burrowed into the side of a hill. very memorable meal.

                      1. Not far from Siena and San Gimignano is a town called Colle di Val d'Elsa (it's a mouthful, I know). You can reach it via bus. It's a stop on the way to Siena.

                        They have a Michelin restaurant that is splendid, but also a casual spot that has some of the best Italian food I've ever eaten.

                        L'Officina della cucina popolare

                        Just trust me and go. You will not regret it. Great prices, very friendly, amazing food. I used to work in the area for half a year and everyone I took there swore it was one of their best meals in Italy.

                        Dario Cecchini's Antica Mecelleria is also a fun meal with an emphasis on butchery and wine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. There is a group of young locals trying to 'update' Siena through a new online guide called 'The Cinta Senese'. It's trying to modernise the recommendations and give the honest scoop about what the locals do and what is actually decent in and around Siena. The guys behind it are very discerning and really know what they are talking about and are passionate about modernising Siena.

                          They have only just started but already have a few great tips:

                          Il Grattacielo - a legendary hole in the wall

                          http://www.thecintasenese.com/best-ho...

                          Caffe Corsini (rip nannini!

                          )

                          http://www.thecintasenese.com/best-ci...

                          Best bistecca in the region

                          http://www.thecintasenese.com/best-bi...

                          See what you think. I urge everyone to get behind what they are doing - Siena needs to be more forward looking and hopefully this kind of guide can shake off the cobwebs and the MPS malaise around town!

                          Join their Facebook page :

                          https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Ci...

                          Siena deserves more!

                          DISCLAIMER - I am related to the Editor!

                          1. PS - I reckon Le Logge is THE most overrated resto in Siena. its been a bit rubbish for years since chefs and kitchen left. somehow it is still the only top pick in every single guide book. Discuss...?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: en3203

                              I ate quite well at Le Logge, and the wine steward found me a super Barolo. Yet that was over four years ago.

                              Thanks for the link to 'The Cinta Senese'

                              1. re: sidcundiff

                                yes it certainly has declined and is, a bit like caffe nannini, been resting on its laurels too long. however, that doesnt mean it cant make a comeback! having said that, i really approve of the owner's (gianni brunelli) attitude towards siena in general - he also opened up a winebar/live jazz spot near to le logge called 'un tubo' - which is one of the first of its kind in siena. certainly more forward looking than most businesses and the location is very cool, in the old medieval jewish district.

                                1. re: en3203

                                  so wondering what are the restaurants you recommend in Siena?
                                  In addition to Il Grattacielo. Its been many years since Ive been there.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    i know my brother is going to be publishing his views over the coming months but i still think the taverna di san giuseppe is still one of the best for local grub. irritatingly, it is now top of trip advisor so is getting busier and busier and starting to wane.

                                    enoteca i terzi is the only restaurant with an extensive wine list (they even sell non italian wines...shock horror) and they do an amazing chianina beef tartare which i love. also, the owner has a voice to rival james earl jones...

                                    for seafood its still always tre cristi.

                                    the poor wine offerings of siena are quite extraordinary tbh. especially with montalcino nearby, a fraction of the size of siena, way ahead for wine tourism and tasting rooms. i cant believe the enoteca in the fortezza is still really the only place to do proper tastings. there are some changes coming i hear so fingers crossed.

                                    i also used to send friends to osteria l'osteria on via dei rossi - but i have not eaten there this year so can't be sure if there have been any changes. another oldie that was fantastic and that i will be checking out again when i return is the antica botteganova on the outskirts of siena on the road to pianella - used to be more 'haute cuisine' but some people are telling me its actually making a comeback.

                                    a local foodie has tipped me off that there is a new spot in siena which he thinks is now the best and he promised to take me there when i am home in a few weeks time - so stay tuned...ill find out soon enough.