Finding great places to enjoy the local cuisine can be part of the adventure when you’re traveling, but sometimes it’s nice to have at least a couple of dining recommendations. Here are a few of our “go to” restaurants in and around Panzano in Chianti:
One of our all time favorites for an elegant and delicious dinner and/or lunch in the countryside near Panzano is La Locanda di Pietracupa in San Donato in Poggio. The restaurant’s dining room is understated and polished but it’s the cuisine here that really shines. Credit for the inventive, refined rifts on Tuscan cuisine go to the two young couples who own the restaurant. They take fresh, local ingredients and give them a delightful and sophisticated twist. In the autumn, enjoy lighter than air ravioli stuffed with pumpkin, while summer brings tagliolini topped with delicate zucchini blossoms and truffle. The filet of beef may be wrapped in a paper thin sheet of lardo or accompanied by a rhubarb sauce, depending on the season. The Fritto della Locanda, their version of fritto misto, comes with chicken, rabbit and seasonal vegetables fried in the lightest batter possible. Everything is spectacular here but save room for dessert—those are too delicious to miss. La Locanda di Pietracupa has a lovely outdoor terrace for warm weather dining and has four rooms available for rent upstairs over the restaurant. Be sure and book in—it is very popular. We’ve met people from Florence who’ve driven down just to dine here. For more information about the menu, the rooms and cooking classes visit www.locandapietracupa.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a bend in the road between Panzano and San Donato where you’ll find a tiny hamlet called La Piazza. The hamlet has little more than a few stone houses and a terrific restaurant called Osteria Alla Piazza www.osteriaallapiazza.com. This area favorite has several appealing small dining rooms and an expansive terrace for warm weather dining.
Osteria Alla Piazza changes their menu regularly to capture the freshest seasonal ingredients at their peak. During an autumn visit a few years back we feasted on the porcini—presented beforehand in a big basket for our appraisal, and served in every course we ordered. With great anticipation, we returned just a few days later to further satisfy our craving for these meaty mushrooms only to be told, “funghi finito”—no more, all gone, season’s over!
Several dinners we enjoyed earlier this summer confirmed that the kitchen at Osteria Alla Piazza is still clearly committed to providing diners with the season’s best. Don’t miss the tantalizing tagliolini with truffles, the melt in your mouth filet of beef with cippolini (tiny onions), or the fritto misto, which someone in our party seemed to order everywhere we went. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and reservations are strongly suggested. For current menu and reservation information visit www.osteriaallapiazza.com or email email@example.com.
Passing through Lucarelli on the road from Panzano to Radda, you’ll find Osteria Le Panzanelle www.lepanzanelle.it — a local favorite—and one of ours, too. It’s always busy and always good. Friends who live in nearby Radda in Chianti complained it was getting harder for area residents to get a table during the busy summer months, so reservations are a must.
At Le Panzanelle you’ll find classic Tuscan cooking in a casual, lively setting. Begin with platter of local charcuterie, the Affettati Toscani—a nice big plate of prosciutto and delicious Tuscan salami. The involtini di melanzane, which is sliced eggplant rolled around cheese and baked with a tomato sauce and capers is also a tasty starter.
There are plenty of terrific pastas to choose from—you can’t go wrong here. For the main course they offer an enormous Bistecca alla Fiorentina for two, roasted rabbit with capers and anchovies, hearty cinghiale con olive (wild boar with olives), scottadito di angello (lamb chops) and other Tuscan specialties like peposo—a delicious slow cooked beef dish.
We’ve eaten here many times over the years and have tried most things on the menu. We’ve always been delighted with our meals and service is always friendly. It’s just a short 10 to 15 minute drive from Panzano and well worth it. Unlike many local restaurants, which close in November and reopen in late spring, Le Panzanelle is open nearly year round except for their vacation closing sometime in January/February. Visit www.lepanzanelle.it for more.
For fabulous food and amazing views go to Ristoro di Lamole in the tiny hamlet of Lamole. You’ll drive up a beautiful winding road in the hills near Greve, passing orchards, vineyards and country homes, and when you reach the top—the friendly staff at Ristoro di Lamole will be waiting with a warm welcome.
Be sure to reserve a table on the terrace so you can enjoy the stunning countryside views along with their innovative and sophisticated take on Tuscan cookery.
House made burrata makes a great starter and the ravioli with pear and pecorino should not be missed.
Meat courses like the tender pork filet and rabbit are outstanding and the fritto misto was perfect. Everything we ate– from the antipasti to dessert– reflected a refined sensibility and was absolutely delicious.
The Lamole Lamole wine from this area is just one of the more than 300 bottles on Ristoro di Lamole’s extensive wine list. Open for lunch and dinner. Visit www.ristorodilamole.it/en for more information.
Oltre il Gardino is a family-run restaurant right off Panzano’s main square, the Piazza Bucciarelli. We ate here for the first time on our recent trip and were very pleased with their solid, classic Tuscan cookery.
The menu focuses on Italian comfort food and includes favorites like bruschetta al pomodoro, ribolita (tomato soup with bread), house made pastas like papparadelle with cinghiale (wild boar) and tagliatelle with pigeon.The ubiquitous Bistecca alla Fiorentina, peposa, and other typical dishes, were all well prepared.
The dining room in the converted farmhouse is cozy and well appointed. Every table was taken the night we were there, mostly by Italian diners, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Even though it was a full house, service was attentive.
In the warm weather, the restaurant opens their summer bar—an expansive terrace with beautiful views overlooking the Conca del Ora, the shell of gold. Lunch, aperativi and dinner are served on the terrace. For menus and more visit www.risoranteoltreilgiardino.com.
La Cantinetta di Sassolini www.cantinettasassolini.com is off the Piazza Ricasoli at #2, in the old part of Panzano up the hill from the main square near the church of Santa Maria Assunta.
The menu centers on typical Tuscan dishes. Dinners can begin with assorted local cheeses like pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese often served with jam, crespelle—delicate crepes stuffed with vegetables, which happened to be asparagus on this occasion, and one of our favorites, sformata, a light savory custard of seasonal vegetables.
Next up are pastas, which are often sauced with game or meat here. Main courses like tagliata di manzo- sliced beefsteak, roasted meats, lamb chops, or chicken fricassee are served in ample portions.
The dining room is lovely and boasts a large fireplace, which is a welcome addition in the colder months. The restaurant also has a terrace for outdoor dining in the summer. Note: Enter through the doors on Via Giovanni di Verrazano, though you can park in the piazza if there’s space.
We didn’t have a chance to return to Il Vescovino on our visit to Panzano this summer, but would recommend it based on earlier visits. The menu features Tuscan favorites; beginning with antipasti of Tuscan salami and prosciutto, chicken liver pate, olives and fennel. Pastas include local specialties like pici, which is a thick hand made spaghetti, and tagliatelle with funghi or papperadelle with a ragu. Grilled chicken, braised beef, Bistecca Fiorentina (from Dario Cecchini’s macelleria), porchetta and tagliata di manzo—the grilled, sliced steak popular in Italy, round out the menu. The restaurant has gorgeous views from inside and out on the terrace, which looks over the vineyards below. Il Vescovino is at via Ciampolo da Panzano, 9, 50022 Panzano, Greve in Chianti, Italy +393383648446.
In an earlier post on Panzano we mentioned Dario Cecchini www.dariocecchini.com, the uber popular butcher from Panzano with a worldwide following. We would be remiss not to include his terrific restaurants here again: Solociccia, which is Tuscan slang for “only meat” and features cuts from all parts of the cow; Solociccino, a mini version of Solociccia open for lunch only; Officina della Bistecca showcases sensational steaks including the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina; and Dario DOC—just for lunch from Monday through Saturday and the only Dario restaurant where reservations aren’t needed. All of the restaurants serve family style, multi course, prix fix meals, and while famous for top quality meat, vegetarian options are available. Visit www.dariocecchini.com for more on the macelleria, restaurants and butchery classes.
Panzano and environs are very popular travel destinations, particularly in the summertime. Avoid disappointment and make reservations. These are some of our favorite places to dine in and around Panzano. We’d love to hear about yours, so please leave comments.