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Eating & Drinking

  • From hot summer nights to cool winter weekends, Pistoia’s pedestrianised squares fill up with local crowds. The pedestrianised area around the main square is full of dining options, especially on via del Lastrone. Street food is also on offer here, including farinata con cavolo, chickpea pancake with cabbage, and frittata con rigatino, omelette with salt-cured bacon. As evening falls, Piazza della Sala, Piazzetta dell’Ortaggio and the surrounding streets turn into the city’s drawing room as the locals meet for aperitivi (cocktails) at cosy wine bars, such as Ristocaffetteria Voronoi (see below).

    Pistoia is a foodie hotspot and upholds some of the best Slow Food traditions in Tuscany. The most typical dish is maccheroni sull’anatra, pasta in a rich duck sauce. The wild boar roaming the Tuscan hills found favour with the Etruscan menus, and still feature on local menus. Pistoia is also practised at seasonal vegetable dishes and so-called `cucina povera,’ peasant cuisine. Pappa col pomodoro is one such dish, made with bread and tomatoes, and served colder in summer than in winter.

    The city is particularly good at pastries, cakes and chocolate. Chocolates can come in novel flavours, such as nutmeg (noce moscato) or chili pepper (peperoncino). Sugared almonds are popular, as are scole, semi-sweet Lenten Easter cakes. Tasty castagnaccio is a crunchy chestnut cake made with chestnut flour, walnuts and pine nuts. Pistoia also produces the pretty corona di San Bartolomeo for the feast of St Bartholomew on 24 August, when mothers lead their children to church wearing this cake `necklace’ to receive a blessing from the saint.

  • La BotteGaia

    Set in Pistoia’s pedestrian zone, close to the Cathedral and Baptistry, this bustling inn is a favourite with the locals. This upmarket yet informal Slow Food inn serves seasonal Tuscan cooking matched by a tempting wine list. The mid-priced dishes range from simple local cheese plates and chicken liver crostini to maltagliati pasta in duck sauce and a range of fish dishes. Dishes are mostly traditional, with occasional creative surprises. If unlucky enough to find a place, head to the inn’s wine bar, La Vineria, on the same street.

    Address: Via del Lastrone 17, 51100 Pistoia
    La Vineria
    Tel: 0577 365602

  • Il Ristocaffetteria Voronoi

    Voronoi, a modish yet versatile café and cocktail bar, comes into its own in the early evening when it serves a buffet with cocktails overlooking a pedestrianised square. This mid-priced place also doubles as a pizzeria and a restaurant, serving a surprisingly sophisticated menu. Choose from creative seafood, such as crunchy octopus in batter, asparagus and goat’s cheese risotto, or traditional pasta dishes, such as maccheroni alla pistoese, served in a duck sauce. Instead, for artisanal ice creams, head to the firm’s Gelateria Voronoi, which also sells cakes and pastries (on via Roma 2).

    Address: Piazzetta dell'Ortaggio, 14-17, 51100 Pistoia 

    Tel: 0573 1971214

  • L’Enoteca Baldo Vino

    This mid-priced wine bar and stylish, creative restaurant is set close to the main square. The cooking is more modish and Italian than solely Tuscan, based on the concept that each wine best matches a precise dish, wherever that dish comes from. A cauliflower flan might be accompanied by baccala from Livorno; octopus with sundried tomatoes could be served with Sicilian capers and anchovies; even the cheeses can range from pecorino to gorgonzola. Fish dishes are to the fore but carnivores are well-served, as, of course, are wine-lovers, with wine-pairing an option on the tasting menu.

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