We have traveled around the country a lot in our nearly 2 years living in Italy, and I have to say that some of our best meals and restaurant recommendations are in Pisa. Stepping away from the main streets that lead to the Leaning Tower yields a list of restaurants I make sure to recommend to any friends and family coming through town. If you want tips on how to eat out successfully in Italy with little ones, check out my post here .
My theory for why the food is good in Pisa is because they cook for locals, and not just for tourists. Every restaurant I recommended is frequented by Italians who live and work in Pisa. So many tour buses come to the tower and people might grab a lunch nearby and then leave, so most of the mediocre places are found in that area. When it comes to finding good food in Pisa, trust me, it’s worth walking the extra couple of minutes to no longer be in view of the Leaning Tower (that goes for gelato as well). If there is a staff member out front near a large menu asking you to come eat, I’d stay away. However, if you really need a meal during off hours (earlier than typical lunch or dinner times) then these restaurants are usually open. Just don’t judge Pisa’s culinary scene based on them!
I have personally eaten at all of the restaurants below (usually multiple times) though there are many I have yet to try, so perhaps you’ll find another gem not on my list. Let me know if you do and I’ll check it out! This list is strictly establishments in Pisa center, assuming you’re spending the day in town. I’ll be posting a list of restaurant recommendations in the surrounding area in the future.
I’ve separated the list into restaurants North and South of the Arno River to ease your ability to locate where they may be without clicking on the location link immediately. All restaurants are in Pisa Centro.
North of the Arno River
Osteria Dei Cavalieri
This is a great upscale restaurant for a date night but I’ve also seen families with kids there (though I’ve never gone with my own kids). They are open for lunch too if you want to be slightly more casual and I recommend reservations as it fills up quickly. The staff is very nice and there is an English menu and I personally love the Tagliata with arugula (rocket) and parmesan.
Antica Trattoria Il Campano
Tucked into a corner, this trattoria has never failed to please. It’s one of our go-to restaurants to bring American coworkers of my husband who fly into town for a visit. Their bistecca fiorentino is wonderful. I don’t recall seeing many children in this establishment and reservations are recommended, so I suggest it’s best for families with older kids or a date night.
La Foccaceria dei Sani
Easy quick food on the go! This foccaceria is walking distance from the Leaning Tower and has amazing sandwiches on fresh foccacia bread for cheap. Nowhere to sit inside, so take these to go and have a picnic or wrap up for later.
Pizzeria Zero Zero
Great fresh pizza and calzones! They have pizza available “to go” (d’asporto in italian) so we often end a day of traveling around a new town with me back at the hotel or apartment prepping the kids for bed while my husband grabs pizza and returns, so we can eat relaxed after a long day of traveling!
This is perhaps my personal favorite in Pisa. I’ve yet to go with the same menu, as they use seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is small but if you arrive right when they open for lunch you shouldn’t have problems getting a seat for your family. Their bathroom is large enough for a diaper change and I’ve seen at least one high chair. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant has a nice atmosphere.
This brewery has a good selection of their own beers. A play on words for Brown Bear (Orzo is barely, Orso is bear!) this place has a very casual environment and I’ve seen kids there earlier in the evening. They have a selection of sandwiches, piadini (a type of wrap) and bruschetta for a lighter bite to eat. No English menu but the staff is young and typically speaks some English. Il Sud, across the street, is a good wine bar if you prefer wine to beer.
My personal favorite gelato in Pisa! Interesting flavors with quality ingredients.
Filter Coffee Lab
This coffee shop is unique in Italy- its very much like a hipster local coffee shop in the USA. Tons of college students and a variety of seating. The staff speaks English and the menu is in English as well. You can actually get a good quality filtered coffee (not just an Americano) or get a flavored caffe latte here, plus bagels and other breakfast foods including bacon! It’s delicious and a nice break from a sweet pastry and espresso for breakfast.
Ir Tegame Speghetteria
This place is nothing but delicious homemade pasta! No “secondo” plate here. I suggest getting the Giro Pasta for the table (minimum 2 people, the whole table must order it). Its 20 Euro per person and includes 4 pasta selections, water, a bottle of wine, and a desert. When it’s the two of us we chose 1 dish each that we want then try something new with the other 2. Eating out as a foursome we each choose a dish. The servings are large and they’ll gladly make plain pasta (pasta bianca) for any children. Very family friendly!
South of the Arno River
This place is as authentic as it gets. Daily changing menu, chef yelling out orders in Italian, and a unique and beautiful dining room, all without breaking the budget. This place is unique in that you step up to the counter first to order (there is an english menu but you must ask for it, it’s written on paper), then choose a place at the large tables and gather your glass, silverware, and all you need for your table. Listen for your order to be called out, retrieve it and bring it back to your table. The food is high quality and delicious but the atmosphere is relaxing and fun. Good for families who want a good meal at their own pace. Even speaking Italian we still watched what others were doing before we ordered, and now it’s a favorite place of ours.
Situated in a lovely piazza just off the main walking street, Il Bistro offers great food with the option to dine outside. While there, take a lap around the piazza and check out the other menus to see if anything else suits you better, as there are a handful of good restaurants here including two for indian food (Tanduri and Namaste). Locals often meet up here for apertivo with their friends and kids play and ride bikes in the piazza.
Recommended to us by my husband’s Napoletano coworkers for good Napoli style Pizza. Tucked down a little alley off a street, away from the tourist side of center, we never would have tried this on our own but are glad we did. Nice staff and options to eat outside or inside. Before eating, check out Giardino Scotto around the corner to let the kids burn off some energy in a beautiful park surrounded by ancient city walls.
Let me know if you find a great place you think my family should try! I have no affiliations with these restaurants and recommend them just because we’ve enjoyed our experiences there. We love discovering new places so I expect to add to this list as we continue to eat our way through Pisa.