Pisa is undoubtedly one of Italy's prime tourist magnets, and, let's be honest, most tourist towns have a reputation for fleecing visitors - especially when it comes to restaurants. If you look hard enough, however, Pisa has quite a few restaurants where you can eat fresh, regional food without digging deep. And you won't have to walk miles off the beaten track to find them either.
For the best panini in Pisa, stop by L'Ostellino on Piazza Cavallotti. Charming owners Francesco and Ernesto will impress you with stunningly fresh ingredients and imaginative filling combinations. They use only top-quality bread to wrap such mouth-watering regional specialties as Porchetta, Tuscan fresh sausage, and stracchino (fresh soft cheese).
Argini e Margini
Pretend you're at the beach at this wine bar and restaurant at Lungarno Galilei, on a sandy bank of the Arno. Argini e Margini's floating dock buzzes in summer, with live jazz playing and fresh seafood served by the kilo. You can also lounge under umbrellas and palm trees with a cool cocktail and aperitivi.
La Bottega del Gelato
For the best gelato in Tuscany, pay a visit to La Bottega del Gelato
at Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi. Available in about 20 flavours, the super smooth ice cream comes in a range of sizes and is very reasonably priced.
Sightseeing can be a hungry business, so you'll be glad to find Dolce Pisa a five-minute walk away from Pisa's main attractions, on Via Santa Maria. You won't have to deny yourself on budget grounds either, as everything on the menu is cheap, and there is no cover charge for sitting at the tea salon tables. Choose from cappuccino, smoothies, and pastries for a snack, with pizza and pasta available for a more substantial meal.
Osteria i Santi
Also on Via Santa Maria you'll find Osteria i Santi, a restaurant with a delightful terrace for outdoor dining. (Indeed, a terrace table is infinitely preferable to the indoor area, which is decorated with over-the-top portraits of saints). The menu features a wide range of affordable options, from lasagna and spaghetti at the cheaper end to baby octopus and seafood risotto at the more expensive level.
Located on the quiet side street Via Domenica Cavalca (off Via Curatone), Il Baronetto offers 45 kinds of self-service pizza, in addition to an excellent Pisan soup. This small, cosy restaurant buzzes in high season, and service is prompt and friendly.