We just returned from a weeklong visit to Lucca. This was a somewhat different trip for us, in that we travelled for the specific purpose of investigating Lucca as a possible retirement destination, so we made no day trips outside the town and just immersed ourselves in life within the walls. We shopped the markets and small stores and did much of our cooking at home, but we did have a few meals out. Unfortunately, I didn't take notes, which I will need to do on future trips because my memory doesn't serve me as well as it once did.
The night we arrived, we had a quick dinner at Da Giulio, since it was only a few minutes from our apartment. Matt had tordelli with ragu, and I had tagliatelle with a simple tomato and basil sauce (as best I can remember), followed by a plate of mixed grilled vegetables. The service was friendly, and the place was filled with locals, but the food was nothing exciting. Admittedly, we were jet-lagged and more ready for bed than dinner. Da Giulio offers all the classics of the region, and I would characterize it as the sort of neighborhood place where you might go on the spur of the moment if you didn't feel like cooking that night. Nothing wrong with it; just not particularly exciting.
We had one lunch and one dinner at Trattoria Gigi, which we preferred to Da Giulio, although both are similar with their focus on regional classics. We especially enjoyed lunch on the terrace--not much of a view, but lovely to sit outside in early October. Matt had the tordelli again, and I had a daily pasta special with mussels. Next, we shared a mixed grill with a selection of meats and grilled vegetables. We returned a couple of nights later for a late-night, post-concert plate of pasta: gnocchi for Matt and gnudi for me. Again, nothing super-exciting about the food or the menu as a whole, although we found it definitely a notch above Da Giulio.
Our hands-down favorite restaurant in Lucca was Da Pasquale (Osteria da Pasqualine Gubitosa), where we had two great dinners. The first evening, we were boring as a couple, both ordering the same meal: pappardelle with ragu di vitello bianco, followed by roasted, boned rabbit. To accompany our dinner, we had a bottle of La Fortuna Brunello di Montalcino, which we enjoyed enough to purchase a second bottle to take home. On the second night, we sat in the back of the restaurant (the front seems to be mostly tourists, the back mostly locals), where we started with an excellent caponata. Even Matt, who generally has to be coaxed to eat eggplant, liked this version. Next, we each had the raviolone special, filled with ricotta and mint, then we shared the maialino. Great flavors; everything perfectly seasoned. Pasquale is very helpful with wine selections, and this time we had a rich, full white that we also enjoyed (sorry; didn't record the name). We didn't try the desserts, which included a nod to Pasquale's native Sicily, but they served a complimentary parfait with pistachios. It was nice to be recognized and welcomed back, and if we lived in Lucca, I think we'd eat here often.