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Tuscan food tends to be simple, almost rustic, but is always made from the best ingredients. Most famous is the typically unsalted Tuscan bread (pane sciocco). Stories suggest that the lack of salt is the result of a trade dispute between Pisa and Florence. To outsiders, the pane toscano may at first taste rather bland because of the omission of salt. But its simplicity and the wonderful aroma of the wood-fired oven, the crispy crust and the loose crumb interspersed with air bubbles make it the ideal base for the flavourful cuisine of Tuscany. Drizzled with a punchy olive oil, as a classic bruschetta, or as a base for hearty bread soups or bread salads – no other white bread in the world is better suited.
Don’t leave Pisa without trying the following bread-based dishes:
A delightful blend of dried Tuscan bread, fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil and cold-pressed Tuscan olive oil. Like Spanish Gazpacho, Pappa al Pomodoro is also frequently eaten cold.
Lovingly cooked for hours, Ribollita or vegetable stew is genuine slow food that is good for the heart and soul. Its ingredients can be very varied, true to the motto: use anything that tastes good and is in season. The ubiquitous Tuscan cabbage, cavolo nero, along with dry Tuscan bread, are indispensable, however. The white beans (fagioli) which are also very common in Tuscany are often included in Ribollita as well.
Apart from bread, Pisa offers a wonderful selection of first courses (primi piatti):
The tastiest dishes are often characterised by their simplicity and good ingredients. This is certainly the case with riso al tartufo alla pisana. This delicious yet simple risotto with regional truffles is a wonderful alternative to soup or pasta.
Another great primo piatto is the seafarers’ dish, Bordatino alla pisana – a smoother take on polenta. Again, white beans and cavolo nero play an important role in addition to cornmeal.
Our recommendations for main course:
Tripe is a matter of taste, of course, but throughout Italy trippa is a popular speciality. The Pisan version is prepared with tomatoes, bacon and onion.
Fish is a must in Pisan cuisine given the city’s proximity to the sea. Simple but tasty side dishes such as tomatoes, potatoes and parsley make this stockfish a delicacy.
To meat lovers, the Pisan mucco pisano steak is a unique local alternative to the Bistecca fiorentina from Florence which otherwise prevails in Tuscany.
Chocoholics won’t be disappointed by one of Pisa’s most popular desserts: the Torta coi bischeri is a seductive combination of dark chocolate and pine nuts on a shortcrust pastry base. Another dessert where pine nuts feature is the Torta ai pinoli di San Rossore (pine nut tart). And where would Tuscan cuisine be without almond biscuits? Cantuccini. Many people say they taste best with a glass of Vin Santo. If you want to learn more about the accompanying wines from the region, take a look at our wine section.