Favorites in Perugia/Lucca
Please share your favorite dining experiences in Perugia. It will be our first time there. Lucca we have visited several times and know well, but anything out of the touristy area would be appreciated.
We just came from one week in Lucca and two restaurants towered over the other places we tried.
Vigna Ilaria Ristorante Locanda is a few kilometers outside of Lucca, and is run by a young man named Andrea and his wife Elena. Without the slightest bit of pretension, this restaurant takes sustainable food seriously, but most importantly, the food is delicious and the welcome sincere and enthusiastic. Maybe the most astonishing food I've eaten in Italy this trip was the green salad here, picked by hand from the hillsides by a neighboring woman. At dinner, along with a la carte offerings, Vigna Ilaria offers a six-course meat or six-course fish menu, that also includes a small portion of that salad and a pasta, most often tortella with ragu. It's a great value.
IThe next night, we ate in Lucca with a guy strikingly similar in philosophy, if not personality -- Pasqualino, who was a sommelier for Crystal Cruises for more than 20 years, and finally accomplished his dream of not only opening a restaurant in Lucca, but one that featured Sicilian as well as Tuscan specialties. We ordered an assortment of appetizers. We were supposed to get little tastes of four different ones, but Pasqualino, seeing our interest in his chef's wares, brought out 8, and we were full before the entrees even came. The entrees were sensational, especially the Sicilian swordfish, by far the best I've ever had, but some of the appetizers stole the show, especially the caponata, with each vegetable cooked separately to the proper texture. Like Andrea, Pasqualino couldn't stop talking about what he is trying to accomplish, and his energy and passion were infectious. Pasqualino kept bringing us extras, including a superb cannoli to accompany the one dessert we ordered for the whole table.
We've spent a week more in Italy, but the salad and the caponata are the two best tastes I've had so far.
Very sorry to have neglected to give the official name of the restaurant, which is Osteria Pasqualino Gubitosa. It's located at 8 Via del Moro. Like most of the ambitious restaurants in Lucca, it has a website, but a not very helpful one (www.dapasquale-lucca.com). I would give serious consideration to ordering the appetizer tasting and splitting an entree or waiting to see if you still have an appetite.
There were five of us at both dinners. I don't remember exactly how much we spent, but I think both were in the 30-35 Euro range for a large amount of food, including wine for three and beer for one. I think they are both extraordinary values. The Locanda's website gives only a hint of the treasures, but I think it conveys some of the charm: http://www.locandavignailaria.it/en/i...