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May 8, 2014 03:42 PM

Food near Forte dei Marmi and Lucca

I'll be traveling to Italy in June. For the last leg of our journey we'll be using Forte dei Marmi as a base to explore nearby areas. There's not a lot of information on the board for this area. Even Lucca, where we plan to spend at least one full day, doesn't have many recent posts. Does anyone have suggestions on restaurants that would be good for dinner? We would be willing to drive about half an hour or more for a good meal.

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  1. In Forte, we have a wonderful restaurant, Lorenzo. This is one of my many posts.

    In June, there is no problem for the next two places. for dinner down the coast. Easy to find because it's light, late. Then I've mentioned La Dogana outside of Pietrasanta which is close to Forte. Unfortunately, IMO, there is no outstanding place in Lucca, even though the city itself is truly wonderful. Hope all this helps. If you want someone to play devil's advocate on other places, I might be able to help.

    Down the coast, about an hour from here is Scolapasta in Catiglioncello. Here is one post.

    We've been back to Scolapasta in Castiglioncello a number of times since we first wrote it up (see the two posts above). It is less than 45 minutes from here and it is fast becoming a mainstay for us. Nothing like it exists in Forte dei Marmi or Viareggio or anyplace else around here on the coast (it is very different from Lorenzo in Forte or La Pinetta in Marina di Bibbona). An informal place for truly excellent fish and seafood dishes.

    We were there twice in the last two weeks, the first times there this year. Nothing has changed from last year; why would it. Take excellent ingredients, a talented chef who respects those ingredients, couple that with causal gracious service by one of the owners and you have a recipe for success. The owners are not about to spoil it.

    Physically, Scolapasta is a modest place, but extremely comfortable, all you could want in a fish trattoria/ restaurant by the sea. By design it does not cater to foreign tourists; in all the times we've been there, we've been the only non Italians... as one of the owners said to us "we have never had spaghetti con vongole on the menu and never will." It is neither expensive nor inexpensive; figure 60 Euros per person for three courses plus dessert. Great fish and seafood are expensive in Italy and if you go to a place with cut rate prices, it means that the ingredients are not fresh. That is a fact. Here, two weeks ago, a fisherman was bringing his catch, through the dining room, at 3 in the afternoon. That was for dinner that night. A good wine list VERY reasonably priced, served in Riedel glasses. One time we had a 2011 Hofstadter Muller-Thurgau, another the 2010 Schiopetto Tocai, both around 20-22 Euros.

    The entire menu is on a chalkboard. As the kitchen runs out, the dish is simply erased. Menu changes daily. Excellent bread; really great desserts.

    La Pineta in Marina di Bibbona, about an hour from here. Here is a post:

    Luciano Zazzeri’s place remains in top form. Success hasn’t spoiled him and the next generation is now right there (his two sons, one heading up the kitchen and one in the dining room... both under their father's tutelage).

    Totally full room at lunch, once again all Italians except for us. Young, older, they all come for the wonderful, and wonderfully fresh, seafood and fish, in various great combinations. Yesterday, we started with pasta e fagioli con cozze e bottarga. Half the beans were pureed and half left whole. The puree was smooth as silk. A generous helping of the sweetest mussels had as a counterpoint just enough bottarga to complement the sweetness and add a different texture. Slightly thick pieces of fresh pasta and a touch of rosemary created an ethereal dish. Absolutely superb! A dish that one dreams of. The other dish to start was straccetti di pasta fresca con le triglie. Rarely, does one find triglie like this. Aside from the usual seafood dishes (i.e. Spaghetti alle vongole veraci; risotto ai frutti di mare), to start, we could have had crema di zucca e calamari ripieni; ravioli di patate e stoccafisso; bavette con calamari, seppioline e salvia. For main courses we had Luciano’s signature dish Cacciucco della Pineta which is unlike any cacciucco you've ever had (I've written about it before)... and a new dish Le Polpette di Luciano. This is exactly what it sounds like. Polpette made with the leftover fish rather than leftover meat. Some of it shaped like a sausage and poached, some in little balls and lightly deep fried; with a light sauce of olive oil flavored with rosemary. Extraordinary. A bottle of 2011 Livio Felluga's "Friulano" (just another abomination from the EU in Brussels as to why it can't be called Tocai... as it had been for more than a hundred years; the bureaucrats in Brussels never learn).

    Great desserts, a fantastic (reasonably priced) wine list as one might expect near Bolgheri, professional but informal service. Right on the water at the beach. Can't ask for much more than that in a restaurant meal.

    Roughly 20-25 euros a dish each for antipasti, primi, and secondi, and 15 euros for dessert. Fresh fish and seafood of top quality is expensive in Italy.

    La Dogana from 2012:

    For a restaurant near Camaiore go to La Dogana. Actually I think the address is Camaiore, but it's between Camaiore and Pietrasanta (make sure you go to the new location; they moved but the guide books might still give the old address).

    We've been going for a long time. Very good restaurant with both meat and fish on a medium size menu. Cordial, friendly but professional service. Very good wine list. You come out of there smiling.

    2 Replies
    1. re: allende

      Thanks so much for your informative and detailed reply. I'm glad to know that there are some very good choices in the area. That is disappointing to hear about Lucca though. I guess we'll plan to go elsewhere for dinner.

      1. re: nycfoodfan

        Lucca is about 40 minutes from Forte. Then you have to park and because you have to park just inside or outside the walls, you have to walk at least ten minutes to get to any restaurant, none of which, IMO, are outstanding in any way.

        Just as quick to get to Castiglioncello or Marina di Bibbona and the dinners there are superb. Of course, you can just ride your bike to Lorenzo, right in Forte.