The typical Pisan cuisine is characterized by simple ingredients and is linked to tradition like Tuscan cuisine in general. Of maritime, rural and hilly influences, many vegetables are used, as the Pisan lands are fertile and cultivated, in particular beans, chickpeas and black cabbage, then fish and crustaceans of sea and fresh water, also wild game is used, including wild boar, deer, hare and pheasant. The most appreciable products of the territory are:
- From the San Rossore Park the precious pine nuts, pecorino cheese, the particular honey of ivy and honey “of beach”, that is produced with the nectar of maritime plants such as tamarisks and strawberry trees;
- From San Miniato the truffle, mostly white;
- From the Pisan hills olive oil and wine; the cherries of Lari, the potato of S. Maria a Monte; the “colombana” white table grapes of Peccioli;
- From the sea and from the river a variety of specialties, including clams, eels, frogs;
- From the countryside the typical Pisan mucco, which derives from the crossing of the alpine brown cow with the original bulls of the area of the natural park of San Rossore, with tender meat and strong flavor; the white beans of San michele (also called fagioli piattelli), the strawberries of San Martino Ulmiano, the “mora” courgette and the pisanello tomato, of crushed shape with light ribs, with a fruity and sweetish flavor.
The typical dishes that you will find in the restaurants -and in the houses- are:
- Pisan soup, usually with onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, beans, black cabbage and stale loaf of bread (without salt), some ingredients may vary according to seasonality; excellent that of the restaurant “da Mario” in via Luigi Bianchi, where there are also other typical dishes of Pisa;
- frog soup, that can be found outside the city, at the restaurant “Le tre ruote” in Migliarino;
- the “pallette” with ragout, a dish made of polenta alternated with layers of meat sauce that can be of beef (or pisano mucco), deer, wild boar or hare;
- the “bordatino”, a soup made with beans, black cabbage and corn flour, so called because it was prepared on board the ships;
- pasta and chickpeas;
- spaghetti with “arselle”, which are similar to clams but with a smaller shell, generally they are stewed with a little tomato, this dish is more easily found in Marina di Pisa;
- the “trenette alla renaiola”, prepared in the barges that transported the sand in the Arno, is a type of long pasta seasoned with turnip tops, herring and tomato;
- “Penne alla D’Annunzio”, with porcini mushrooms and bacon;
- “linguette verdi”, long pasta with basil pesto, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese;
- risotto with rocket;
- risotto with truffle;
- fallow deer to San Rossore;
- mussels stuffed;
- eel with peas;
- cod with leeks;
- stewed tripe, which is a fracture, in particular the part between the stomach and the esophagus of the bovine, properly treated and boiled;
- “ossobuco” with beans all’uccelletta, the ossobuco is the upper part of the leg of the bovine;
- cuttlefish with chard;
- boiled spider fish;
- grilled mullet;
- the “cee”, whose capture is forbidden today, they are the newborns of the eel, once they were fried;
- among the cured meats, the “Mallegato” (malted pork, fat and raisins) and pork shoulder, then deer, wild boar, goose that can be found at “L ‘Ostellino”, a small but well-stocked sandwich shop located in Piazza Cavallotti;
- the cecina, a simple preparation based on water, chickpea flour and oil, could be mistaken for an omelette but it is not, famous that of “Montino”, also very good that of “Da Nando” in Corso Italia;
- “Torta co ‘bischeri”, a short pastry tart filled with rice and chocolate, pine nuts, candied fruit and raisins, the “bischeri” also called “becchi” are those embroideries that are made on the edge of the cake;
- “Cantucci” with vinsanto, the classic cantucci are short pastry biscuits with almonds, but there are many variations, the vinsanto is an aromatic liqueur wine;
- various pastries including kinzica (the name derives from a Pisan woman, a heroin who in 1004 foiled a Saracen attack) made with pine nuts pastry and whole pine nuts, you can find them at “Vecchio Forno” after Piazza delle Vettovaglie, in the alley of Tidi, along with other traditional desserts. The pine nuts ice cream of the “De ‘Coltelli” ice-cream shop on the Lungarno is also noteworthy.
Talking about wine, Pisa is the only Tuscan province that can boast 2 wine roads: that of the Etruscan Coast, shared with Livorno, which includes the Montescudaio DOC and Val di Cornia DOC, and the Wine Route of the Pisan Hills, which involves small villages such as San Miniato, Terricciola, Lari, Lajatico, Palaia and others. The wines produced are the Chianti DOCG, the white pisano of San Torpè DOC (the name in honor of a Pisan martyr whose body, entrusted to the sea, landed in Saint Tropez), the Chianti dei Colli dell’Etruria DOC and the vinsanto of Chiant DOC.
The oil of the Pisan hills has DOP denomination, its taste varies according to the area and the harvesting technique, it generally has a fruity aroma and a slightly spicy taste. The oil is tasted traditionally pouring it on fresh or “bruschetted” bread with salt and this crouton is called “Fett’unta”.
In the whole province there are numerous restaurants that offer traditional dishes, more or less reworked; as for the city, the advice is to avoid the “too touristy” places and look for the most hidden restaurants in the less known streets: Pisa is full of them!
Do not underestimate the festivals that take place during the summer: very beautiful that of cherry in Lari, a quaint village worthy of a visit, that of the strawberry in San Martino Ulmiano, the festival of pine nuts in San Piero a Grado, the festival of “ranochiocciola” “(frogs and snails) in Massaciuccoli, the Festa del Maggengo in Coltano.
To get to know the local products better, various food fairs are organized at the Leopolda station throughout the year.