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News - 06 Sep. 2006: Directions and Local info pages updated
News - 31 Aug. 2006: Cancellation deadline extended to 6 september 2006
News - 30 Aug. 2006: Public Reviews and Paper Discussion Forum Online
Eating and drinking in Pisa

Pisa has the usual variety of bars and restaurants that you find anywhere, from very inexpensive to very expensive. Of course the choice is commensurate to the size of the town, and also to the fact that Pisa is both a university and tourist town. As a consequence, two categories of bars and restaurants are well represented: those targeted to students and locals, which are generally interested in lunches (sandwiches or pasta or fix-price menus); and those targeted to tourists, which generally try to privilege appeareance and service in order to attract those one-time customers. As locals, we tend not to visit the latter and thus this list will not contain many samples from that group.

Bar

In general, bars are very popular during morning hours for coffe (or variants) and pastry. They are typically open between 6-7am and 8pm, though especially in the central part of the town, several remain open at night as well, or switch to pub-mode during the night time.

Coffee is the main drink consumed in bars. You generally cannot choose the blend other than i'normale' (with caffeine, you don't have to specify as it is the default) or 'decaffeinato' (decaf). The default size is 'espresso' (very short) served in a ceramic cup. You can still multiply your choice by asking it 'lungo' (tall), and have it 'al vetro' (served in a glass cup), and optionally 'macchiato freddo' (a little bit of cold milk) or 'macchiato caldo' (a little bit of warm, foamy milk as the one in the cappuccino). That makes a total of 24 combinations.

Then you have 'cappuccino' (lot of warm foamy milk with a coffe in it, in a large ceramic cup) and 'latte macchiato' (a glass of warm milk with a coffe in it - not sure about the order of ingredients since i never order it). A 'latte' is just a glass of milk, and you can ask it 'caldo' (warm) or 'freddo' (cold).

In general, the quality of plain coffee is ok-ish everywhere. When it comes to adding milk, places vary a lot depending on whether the place uses fresh or 'long life' milk, and how good is the barman in making the foam.

The options for pastry vary a lot depending on the place. In tuscany, at the register you just say 'un pezzo dolce' to indicate that you want a piece of pastry, then you specify at the bar which one. Typically you have a kind of croissant, very different from the french ones, either empty or filled with a little bit of marmalade or custard. Other popular items are the 'sfoglia' (made of puff pastry, typically with a filling of custard, rice, ricotta) or also the 'budino di riso' (made of pasta frolla and with a filling of rice).

Just a warning that in many bars the pastry is industrially-made and thus tastes old or dry. The good places are those who make the pastry on their own, and an easy way to tell is to look at the variety of choices (e.g. the presence of bigne', cannoli etc.).

Apart from coffe or pastry, of course you will find bottled water (either flat or sparkling, sold by the glass or 500ml or larger bottles), sodas (apart from the usual coke and orange, you will find some peculiar flavours such as 'chinotto', 'cedrata' (cedar) and 'ginger'; also popular, sold by the glass, is a soda called 'spuma' - either blonde, orange or cedar). And of course beer and wine and all sort of alcoholic drinks.

  • Casa della Panna - via dei Mille
    its "caffe` con panna in tazza grande" is a must. Also good icecream.
  • Salza - borgo stretto
    Very good pastry, locally made. A bit expensive.
  • Lilli - viale delle Piagge
    good pastry, pleasant location along the river 2km from the conference site (nice if you go there for a walk).
  • Antico Caffe - piazza Giusti
    just across the bridge that brings to the airport, 500m from the conference location (and 800m from the airport), has good neapolitan pastry (sfogliatella riccia, baba`). Worth trying.
Gelaterie

Ice cream is a popular food in Italy and there are some good places for it in Pisa (you can also find it in bars):

  • Bottega del Gelato - piazza Garibaldi
  • De Coltelli - lungarno Pacinotti 23
  • Coppelia - piazza della Berlina
  • Casa della Panna - via dei Mille
Pubs

I am afraid i cannot comment as much on pubs as i did on bars, except for mentioning that they are mostly located in the central area of the town along the river, that the choice of beers is generally small, and that they often offer a limited choice of food - typically sandwiches and fries. During the warm seasons (april to october) it is very popular for them to sell drinks (in plastic glasses) to be consumed sitting or standing on the river banks. Some popular pubs (on the quality of which i have no idea) are the following (here, as in restaurants, tipping is not expected nor required):

  • Amaltea - piazza della Berlina
  • DAB - via San Bernardo 20 (near via S.Martino)
  • Kinzica - lungarno Galilei 30
Restaurants and pizza places
We will mention here some of the low-end but good quality restaurant and pizza places that locals typically go to, usually for lunch or quick dinner. Prices for a meal here vary between 10 and 30 euros depending on the place and on your selection. Remember that typically (but it should specified on the menu), on the list prices you have to add 10-12% 'service', and (not for pizza places) another 2-3 euros for bread and cover. Tipping is not expected nor required.

Speaking of pizza, you can find three types of pizza in Pisa. The neapolitan style is very tasty and good, unfortunately very few places know how to make it. The traditional way to make pizza in Pisa is to put them into pans witl a little bit of oil on the bottom, and then cook in the oven - as a result it is tasty and soft but totally different from the neapolitan-style pizza. It is often sold 'al quarto' (in slices) as takeaway. Then there is the third kind of pizza, very thin and not as good as the other two.
A popular item, sold in pizza places, is the 'cecina', a salty cake made with chick-pea flour. Typically eaten alone, or as the filler in the 'schiacciata' (round white pizza).

  • Pizzeria Vesuvio - via Carducci
    Very Good neapolitan-style pizza,
  • Pizzeria Montino - via del Monte, (near Borgo Stretto and via U. Dini)
    traditional pisa-stile pizza, cooked in a pan with oil put in the oven. The 'cecina' is also very good.
  • Pizzeria Bagni di Nerone - Bagni di nerone (end of via carducci, corner via Maffi)
    another popular place, pisa-style pizza and cecina.
  • La Cereria - via Gori
    pizza 'al metro'
  • Vineria di Piazza - piazza delle vettovaglie
    One of my favourites, very good food, serving only 3-4 different dishes every day, but very well prepared and inexpensive prices. Seating is on shared tables, inside or outside (weather permitting). No service fee, no cover fee, water is free of charge. Unfortunately, closed on sunday.
  • Numero Undici - via san Martino
    self-service restaurant sitting on shared tables.
  • Al Madina - via San Martino
    Arab restaurant next to the Numero Undici, has kebab, falafel etc.
If you are looking for more traditional restaurant with decent prices. and average quality, you can look at the following:
  • La Tana - via San Frediano
  • Trattoria S. Omobono - piazza S. Omobono
  • Trattoria I Santi - via S. Maria
  • Emilio - via Carlo Cammeo 44
  • Pechino - via Andrea Pisano
    chinese restaurant, reasonable quality.

Finally, there is a number of very good and affordable restaurants in the surroundings, but you will definitely need a car to reach them.

  • La Bersagliera - Via Pisana Vecchia 2136 Lucca
    grea calabrese-style pizza in a very barebones place just inside lucca. They serve just a fabulous pizza, nothing else - not even coffee.
  • Trattoria di Monte Magno - Monte Magno, Calci
  • Agriturismo S. Bernardo - loc. S. Bernardo, Calci
HIgh end restaurants
The restaurants below are on the high end of the price spectrum (the list is not comprehensive). Some of them offer fancy cooking and/or good selection of wines, but i suggest to double check and look them up on guides or web comments because sometimes the review suggest that the quality is not on par with the price.
  • Osteria dei Cavalieri - via S. Frediano
    very good reports, from 35-40 Euros and up.
  • Nando - via Contessa Matilde 8
    fish.
  • Cagliostro - via del Castelletto 26
    good wine selection.
  • Ristoro dei vecchi macelli - via Volturno 49
  • Artilafo - via S. Martino 33
    good wine selection
  • La Mescita - via Cavalca 2
    dinner only.
  • Osteria del porton rosso - via Porton Rosso 11
    fish, small place, closed on sunday/monday.
  • Da Bruno - via Bianchi


The ACM SIGCOMM 2006 conference would like to thank the following organizations for their support.