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Jane's Restaurant List for the Chianti
Jane Parker (Jane)
Greve-in-Chianti is located along the Chiantigiana, the SS222 road that runs between Florence and Siena. We settled in and lived here from August 2006 through July 2007, a wonderful and memorable year for us. The following is a list of restaurants we enjoyed there and in surrounding villages and towns, with the names of a few to which we would not return. Since most restaurants in this area have been there for a long while, this list is probably accurate for the foreseeable future. There are many other restaurants in the area, some of which we sampled but neglected to get their card, much to my chagrin. Seldom do I mention a specific food as menus change and tastes differ.
Greve in Chianti and Immediate Area
Ristorante Il Portico: Piazza G. Matteotti (the big piazza in Greve), Tel: 055-854-7426, Closed Wednesday
This is a simple Tuscan ristorante with basic good food. It has a great location right on the piazza so you can watch whatever is happening. We like the family that owns and runs Il Portico. They also have the gastronomia at right angles to it (next to the bakery). If you go to the gastronomia and see Bruno tell them hi from Casey - his picture with Bruno is on one of the walls.
Il Portico in Greve in Chianti
Bottega del Moro-Ristorante and Wine Bar: Piazza Trieste (along the Chiantigiana—SS222), Tel: 055-853-753, Closed Tuesday
This is a good restaurant and different from other restaurants in Greve. Menu and preparation are creative. Although the menu does include some typical Tuscan offerings, much of the menu deviates from the normal fare.
Enoteca Fuoripiazza: Via 1 Maggio Piazza Trento, Tel: 055-854-6313
This is a small restaurant with only a few tables inside and out. It was one of our favorite places to go for a simple lunch or dinner. The food is well-prepared, with a static menu and a menu that changes daily. The people are warm and fun. There is an excellent wine selection.
Enoteca Fuoripiazza in Greve in Chianti
Piazza e Bottega: Via Garibaldi 2 (across from the side of the church), Tel: 392-85-86878, Closed Monday
This is a take-out and delivery pizza place. The pizzas aren't the best but they are good and perfect when you just don't feel like going out again and don't want to cook, either. English is limited so, if you do not speak some Italian, it is best to either get a menu before you want to place an order or just go in and order.
Piazza e Bottega in Greve in Chianti
Mangiando Mangiando: On Piazza Matteotti, Tel: 055-854-6372
This restaurant is a member of the Slow Food network and consequently usually busy. However, it is not a favorite of ours. We do not feel the food was up to the standards of other places or most Slow Food designated establishments. We much prefer the restaurant next door, Il Portico.
Gallo Nero-Enoteca, Trattoria, Pizzeria: On the corner of the Chiantigiana and the street leading into Piazza Matteotti, Tel: 055-853-734, Closed Friday
This is a large restaurant with a varied menu. Locals eat here. The food is OK. It lacks something in ambience. Staff is nice.
La Cantina: Piazza Trento, Closed Friday
We do not recommend this restaurant; although, to be fair, some people do say good things about it. We gave it three tries and found the service and the food to be sub par each time.
Nerbone: On Piazza Matteotti
The original Nerbone is in the mercato centrale in Florence and has been there for decades. Go there if you want to sample Nerbone. We are not fond of the branch in Greve. The menu at both places is primarily boiled meats such as ox tongue and other less popular animal parts and soups - foods that grew out of the poverty of subsistence farmers. There are also a few pasta dishes. This restaurant has a good location and nice ambience which accounts for it having more business than we think it merits.
Caffé Lepanto: On Piazza Matteotti
In tourist season this is a busy place. It has a nice location at one end of the piazza with a large outdoor seating area. The food is OK but there is much better in Greve. For simply relaxing in the piazza and just enjoying the ambience, it offers more than others. It is one of only two places in Greve with gelato. You can also buy SITA tickets there.
Caffé Le Logge: On Piazza Matteotti
This is the place many residents of Greve go for a morning pastry and caffé and to catch up on local gossip. They make a good panino here along with basic pasta dishes. There is outside and inside seating.
La Castellana Ristorante: Located on left side of the road up the hill from Greve in Castello di Montefioralle, Tel: 055-853-134, www.ristorantelacastellana.it
This is one of our favorite places in both summer and winter. During the summer months tables are set up outside, overlooking the hills and vineyards leading down into town. We loved the cozy, warm, small interior during the winter. It is where we went for Christmas Eve. Staff is fun and friendly. There is a connection between this restaurant and La Cantinetta di Rignana.
La Castellana Ristorante in Greve in Chianti
Taverna del Guerrino: Located inside the Castello di Montefioralle, Tel: 055-854-4914 / 853-609, www.greve-in-chianti.com/guerrino.htm
This is a small family run ristorante. We enjoyed it in both summer and winter. There is a lovely veranda overlooking the countryside. Simple, Tuscan food is served. In the winter it is only open Thursday through Sunday and sometimes only Saturday and Sunday. During tourist season it is open Wednesday night through Sunday.
Castello di Verrazzano: Located outside of Greve on the Chiantigiana, Tel: 055-854243, www.verrazzano.org, Generally advanced reservations are required
If you want a nice winery tour, wine tasting and lunch, Castello di Verrazzano is a great place to go. Contrary to what people believe, there are not very many places in the Chianti area that offer this opportunity. It is in a beautiful setting with exquisite views over the countryside.
Castello di Verrazzano
Ristoro di Lamole: In Lamole about 8 km above Greve, but it seems farther, just keep going up, Tel: 055-854-7050, www.ristorodilamole.it, Closed Wednesday, Reservations are recommended in summer months
This is a popular restaurant and rightly so. Its location is stellar and the food is well-above standard fare. It is Tuscan with a flair and creativity. It sits high on the mountain with a fantastic view that goes on for miles. I've been told that on clear days the towers of San Gimignano can be seen. Try to get there for sunset and request a table on the window side of the veranda.
Locanda Borgo Antico: In Lucolena. Ask for directions. Tel: 055-851024, www.ilborgoantico.it, Closed Wednesday, Recommendations are recommended
This is another restaurant that is "just there" somewhere. It is in the middle of a very small, ancient, partly reconstructed borgo. It has great indoor ambiance and a terrace for outside dining in good weather. I prefer the inside. The food is very good and there is a good wine list. As with most restaurants in Italy, it is a family affair and service is good. It is worth finding.
Osteria Di Sugame: This is along the road between Greve and Figline. You will see signs.Tel: 055-8547995
This is a farmhouse, off the road, that serves better food than its appearance suggests. It is only open on the weekends. We enjoyed the food but found the menu to be a little higher priced than other places. The family staff is very nice and friendly.
La Cantinetta di Rignana: All I can say is get directions, follow the signs and don't give up. You will be convinced you are on the wrong road or missed a turn. But, as long as you have followed the signs, just keep going and you will arrive. One wonders how clientele every found this wonderful place in the beginning as it is nowhere! Tel: 055-852601, www.lacantinettadirignana.it, Closed Tuesday
This is a family favorite of ours, especially loved by our grandson who is known as Il Principe there. The food is pure Tuscan, cooked over an open flame. We were first introduced to it by our landlord and then we took friends and family there on many occasions. We like it best when the weather allows for inside seating. The rooms are decorated with lovely rustic icons, farm tools and more. Our favorite here is a mixed tagliata board for the table. One caveat however - don't go at Sunday lunch as the restaurant is a favorite of locals then and we found both food and service not as good as other times. It is just too busy.
La Cantinetta di Rignana
Trattoria Le Cernacchie: La Panca, along a road that turns off the road from Greve to Figline towards Strada, also a road that leads to Tre Castelli, Tel: 055-8547968, www.lecernacchie.com, Closed Monday
We stumbled across this restaurant on one of our meanderings and were impressed. In Tuscan terms it is upscale with creative preparations and menu, along with standard offerings. The decor is fancier than most places. Clearly it is a place known to residents for celebrations and special occasions. We were there for lunch and it was very good. There is a veranda which offers a beautiful view.
Castellina in Chianti
L'Antica Delizia: Via Fioreentina, on the far corner of the street leading into Castellina, Tel: 0577-741337, Closed Tuesday
This is not a restaurant but is one of the best gelato emporiums in Italy. All who pass through Castellina should make a pilgrimage here.
Pestello Antico Ristorante: Loc. S.Antonio al Ponte, this restaurant is on the right side of the road from Castellina in Chianti to Poggibonsi (don't give up, keep going), Tel: 0577-740215, www.pestello.it
We have been eating here since 2001 and have always enjoy it. The food is good Tuscan food - a cut above many other places. The interior is cosy and the service good. As in most small restaurants in Italy, it is a
Tre Porte - Ristorante and Pizzeria: Along the main street in Castellina before getting to the pedestrian only area, Tel: 0577 741163
This is another place we have eaten at several times over the years. We have always found it to be good food and nice service. Castellina is a major tourist destination and village and so, as with all restaurants there, Tre Porte has a mixed clientele of residents and tourists.
Antica Trattoria La Torre: Piazza del Comune, next to the castle, Tel: 0577-740236
This is a very well-known restaurant and highly regarded by many locals and tourists. However, we have eaten here three times and have not found it to meet its reputation. I don't think we will give it a fourth try. Tables are crowded together, service is perfunctory and the food no better than many other places. It does serve some traditional Tuscan game dishes that are not found at many other places.
Ristorante Al Gallopapa: Via Delle Volte, Tel: 0577-74293, www.gallopapa.com, Closed Monday
This is the premier restaurant in Castellina and has a reputation among world gourmets. We ate here years ago and thought it was quite special and unique. Since then it has been transformed into a "culinary experience", achieving a Michelin star. We did not make it here during our year in Tuscany so can not make a comment. We have had mixed reviews from friends who have dined there. It is very expensive. If you prefer simple Tuscan food, this is not the place for you.
Pietrafitta: On the road between Castellina and Greve, Tel: 0577-741123, Closed Monday
This is a small family restaurant sitting on a small knoll along the road. As with most Chianti restaurants there is outside seating for good days. The food is good, simple, Tuscan. We like it there.
Pietrafitta in Castellina in Chianti
Osteria alla Piazza: Ask for directions and then follow the signs. If you formed a triangle of Greve, Castellina and San Donato, the osteria would fall in the center. Tel: 0577-733580, www.osteriaallapiazza.com
This is one of our favorite restaurants. Don't be fooled by all the tourists eating here, locals do, too. The food is Tuscan with a touch of glamour. During good weather, there is the obligatory veranda dining. At other times there is a classy indoor area. If grilled porcini mushrooms are offered, be sure to order one or two or three. Reservations are recommended for dinner during tourist season.
Osteria alla Piazza
Osteria il Ciliegiolo: This restaurant is along the Chiantigiana via Feronne (not the upper road that goes through Impruneta and Grassina). It's the road that goes from the A1 past the American Cemetery. Tel: 055-2326327, Open every day for lunch and dinner
As you pass this place, it looks like a truck stop as there are always trucks and cars parked here. It's a place where people seem to know each other, the menu and the staff. There is an outside area and a cozy, warm, nice-to-be place in the winter. We often stopped here on the way back from Florence. Bistecca is popular here. Be sure to read the menu board at lunch time as there are nice specials.
Gaiole in Chianti
Osteria del Castello: In the woods right below the 12th century Castello Brolio which is still lived in by the Barone Ricasoli family (GPS Coordinates: Lat. 43º 24'55”N Long. 11º27'33” E), Tel: 0577-747277
This restaurant has been well-regarded for many years; however, recently its chef left to open his own restaurant. We ate here soon after it was reopened with a new chef. Our meal was good but not up to the standard of past meals. I do believe that as it matures, it will be as good as before. It may already be.
Ristorante Malborghetto: In Lecchi in Chianti, Tel: 0577-746201, Closed Wednesday www.malborghetto.net
This is a delightful restaurant which friends took us to at the end of our stay. If we had known of it earlier, we would have made return visits. It is in a small, ancient borgo which was used as a place to exile criminals and political enemies during the days of the Medici's. The food is Tuscan and excellent. You find this restaurant either by stumbling across it on a day of discovery or by it being recommended by someone in the know.
Ristorante Malborghetto In Lecchi in Chianti
Antica Sosta-Osteria and Enoteca: Via della Croce, 8, Tel: 055-2312249
This is a nice place to eat within the center of Impruneta. The outside seating area is across the little street from the restaurant which has a cozy and pleasant interior. The food is good and service nice.
La Loggettina: Via Cavalleggeri, 2, on the corner of Piazza Buondelmonti, Tel: 055-23 13 803, www.laloggettina.it
This restaurant is reminiscent of a California nouvelle decor. The cuisine and presentation has touches of this, also check out their website. Although, we ate here just once, we enjoyed it and thus the recommendation.
Il Vescovino: Via da Panzano, 9, located at the top of Panzano on a little street to the left of the church, Tel: 055-8560152, Closed Tuesday. In the past they have closed for two or more months in the winter.
We like this restaurant very much. It is a little more upscale than many other places - not necessarily in prices but in creative offerings. In good weather, the veranda which overlooks the hillsides, is delightful. The interior seating is more formal and classy than the typical Tuscan restaurant. For those of who may have eaten here in the past, it has had new ownership in the last 2-3 years. Petra and Mario, the new owners, are a delightful, youngish couple. He is Italian and she is Swiss.
Trattoria Oltre il Giardino: Piazza G. Bucciarelli 42, Tel: 055-852828, www.ristoranteoltreilgiardino.it, Closed Monday and for some period during the winter.
This restaurant has a large outside dining area which is very pleasant in good weather. For winter months there is a cozy interior. The food is typical Tuscan. We feel rather neutral about this restaurant and so choose other places for return visits.
Solo Ciccia: Via Luglio, Tel: 055-852727, Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon, www.dariocecchini.blogspot.com
This is where Dario - the famous butcher of Panzano - holds court when not at Antica Macelleria Cecchini, his shop right across the street. A meal at Solo Ciccia, which means only meat, consists of a set menu of five courses of meat with a small bow to vegetables. Guests sit at a communal tables and so it is most fun if a group goes together to share this unique dining experience. Dinner includes 1/4 liter wine per person; however, there is no corkage fee if you bring your own wine. It is a fun evening.
Solo Ciccia in Panzano
Fattoria Montagliari: On the Chiantigiana between Greve and Panzano, Tel: 055-852014, www.montagliari.it
This restaurant is a popular place for small tour groups to stop as well as locals and other tourists. In the summer you can sit under the arbor and see the probable home of the real Mona Lisa. Inside is a rustic dining area serving typical Tuscan food.
San Polo in Chianti
Da Paglietta-Pizzeria, Osteria, Enoteca: Via Spartaco Lavagnini, 14, Tel: 055-855443 (4), Closed Monday
This is another restaurant that is a favorite of residents in the area. They make an excellent pizza as well as offering a full Tuscan menu. I had an outstanding fish entree one evening. This is a lively place with families enjoying an evening out together. It is right along the road leading from the Chiantigiana (SS222) to San Polo.
San Casciano Val di Pesa
Ristorante Caratello: Via Grevigiana, 21, along the road from Greve to San Casciano, Tel: 055-820682, www.caratello.com, Closed Monday
We ate here just once and were not overly impressed; however, it does seem to be enjoyed and frequented by locals. There is a piano player in the evenings. The interior is very nice. There are not many places to eat along this road and so if you are there at hunger time, this is a good place to stop. We will try it again when we return as it deserves a second chance.
Ristorante Nello: Via 4 Novembre, 66, Tel: 055-820163, www.ristorantenello.it
This is another favorite of locals where you will find business people, shopkeepers, laborers and families dining. It was recommended to us by a town resident. We had two very good meals here - particularly a wonderful sole dish, boned at the table. It is on the main street within the village.
San Donato in Poggio
Antica Trattoria "La Toppa": Centro Storico (in the center), Tel: 055-8072900, Closed Monday
The food here is good and made more so by the charm of the owner, Ottello. He doesn't speak English but conversing with him is easy anyway. He is a real charmer. His son, Luigi, does speak English if that becomes necessary. Ottello is likely to just sit down at the table with you and suggest what he thinks should be ordered.
Strada in Chianti
Il Caminetto: On the Chiantigiana (SS222) outside of Strada in Chianti in the direction of Firenze, Tel: 055-8588-909, www.firenzenotte.it, Closed Wednesday
This restaurant is very well visited by residents of the area, particularly on a Sunday afternoon. The food is good and nicely presented. There is a more formal interior as opposed to the typical Tuscan rustic. It reminds me of a country inn setting. I would recommend making a reservation.
Da Padellina: Corso del Popolo, 54, along the Chiantigiana (SS222), Tel: 055-85-83-88, www.ristorantichianti.it, Closed Friday
Dante is spoken here - that is by the personality plus owner. He and Dario, the famous Panzano butcher and restauranteer, share a passion for this most famous man of Italian letters. Either one of them is likely to start quoting from their literary hero at any time. This is another place that locals frequent for both lunch and dinner. It is obvious that many patrons and owners know each other well and share a camaraderie. Interestingly, we had an Italian waiter in an Italian restaurant in Salzburg, Austria , Tell us how wonderful Da Padellina is.
Tre Castelli Pizzeria and Osteria: In Cintoia, follow signs off the SS222 between Greve and Strada in Chianti, Tel: 055-8572227, Closed Wednesday
This is an OK place; however, unless like us you are in the area for an extended period of time, there are better places to choose. If you are along the road it is on and need to eat, there aren't many other places in the immediate vicinity.
Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
Osteria di Passignano: Via Passignano (it would be wise to ask for directions to this Osteria), Tel: 055-8071278, www.osteriadipassignano.com, Closed Sunday
This is an excellent restaurant with an outstanding menu, chef and wine list. It has been written up in many magazines and is recognized as a culinary destination. Do not go here expecting a "Tuscan" meal. As expected then, it is expensive. There is a cooking school associated with it as well as an outstanding, well-rated wine.
Osteria di Passignano in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa
La Bottega di Carla Barucci: Piazza della Torre, Tel: 0577-738001, www.ristorantichianti.it, Closed Tuesday
We first visited this restaurant, located in the castle village of Volpaia, in 2001 and have returned many times over the years. It is well-known and well reviewed. The minute village is delightful to stroll in before or after dining, checking out the cooking school and winery. The restaurant has recently remodeled, changing the entrance and interior somewhat. In truth, I preferred the more rustic, non-polished way it was. There is a outside dining on the veranda where the view is nice. The wine bar across the piazza is owned by the same family.
Località Badia a Coltibuono
Ristorante Badia a Coltibuono: Between Gaiole in Chianti and Radda in Chianti, Tel: 0577-749031, www.coltibuono.com
A famous restaurant and cooking school located on the grounds of a thousand year old abbey. This is another upscale establishment with excellent food, beautifully presented and served. The location makes a lovely place for a lunch date but evenings are equally romantic. Their daily plates are a good price, comparatively. Just driving here is a pleasure. The cooking school is well-known and highly regarded.
Tips and Hints
Most restaurants in this area close during much of January through March. In February it can be particularly difficult to find an open restaurant. Some close in August; however, most do stay open since it is a big tourist month.
You can make a reservation for 7:30pm or just show up at that time; however, chances are that even though you will be seated, you will not receive a menu or have your order taken until at least 8:00pm. Most restaurants just aren't set up to start before 8:00pm and even that is early. Tables are still being prepared, kitchens are warming up and staff just isn't ready. So, sit back and enjoy life around you.
Italian families do family things on Sundays. This includes large family gatherings at restaurants. We found that this was both an advantage and a disadvantage for us. We enjoyed being part of the scene and witnessing enviable family dynamics and joy as multiple generations laugh and talk. The down side is that service and food seem to decline due to the busy, hectic atmosphere. Waiters are rushed and the normal difficulty of getting a bill in Italy is prolonged even more. If you are going to dine out on Sunday, you would be well advised to make reservations.
If you need to make a reservation and are not fluent or familiar with Italian, this is what you can say if English is not spoken:
Vorrei prenotare per # persone. (I would like to reserve for # of people.)
Per cena/pranzo (dinner/lunch) alle vente ora ( 8 or 20 o'clock) giovedi (Thursday).
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