My husband and I are traveling for a week in Tuscany in late August/early Sept. We are mid-20's, consider ourselves laid-back foodies and enjoy (mostly red) wine (Italian-wise, chianti and montepulciano, and recently enjoyed some prosecco, but would love suggestions for other tuscan ones we should try). I'm looking for dinner recommendations primarily, and lunch ideas (quick paninis or places to put together our own picnics). We both enjoy Italian food generally, but want to focus on regional/local cuisines on this trip. We love pastas/bread, beans/legumes, fish, all veggies/fruit, prosciutto/bacon/cold/salty meats, and my husband loves steaks/beef. It would be nice to try a couple places with a more inventive take on traditional Tuscan food as well. Also, I love pizza, would like to hear thoughts on "the best pizza" in the three cities.
I'm looking for one splurge each in Florence and Siena (up to $200 USD for 1-2 appetizers, 1-3 first/second courses, dessert and wine), and then other places that are more reasonable, say less than $100 for the same courses. I like the idea of smaller and/or family-run trattorias or osterias, and am particularly looking for a good atmosphere- buzzy but not full of tourists, candle-lit/romantic, neat interiors, not stuffy/"fancy" restaurants. For instance, our favorite places on a recent trip to Paris were a couple smaller bistros that had fantastic food and wine with a fun, relaxed atmosphere, where people sat for 2-3 hours enjoying their dinner.
I've look some on TripAdvisor and on this board, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the many options. I'm also curious if we'll be able to eat most places since it will be late August, and I've read that often locals shut down for part of the month. Finally, I'm wondering about whether or not we need to make reservations, though I assume it's restaurant-dependent to some extent.
I really appreciate your suggestions. The food and wine will be a key focus of this trip, so thanks for your help!!