Like in the rest of Tuscany, Sienese cuisine does not excel in refinement and bewildering combinations of ingredients. There is, however, an extensive choice of dishes you can sample in order to treat your taste buds with the rich flavours of the territory.
Simplicity remains quintessential to Sienese cuisine – as to Tuscan cuisine, for that matter – coming down to a down-to-earth combination of herbs, vegetables, meats and, of course, olive oil, said to be of the highest quality in this region of Italy. Cinta Senese, a swine breed, delights the palates of locals and visitors for centuries, whereas the Chianina cattle provide the basis for the heartiest of the heartiest meals of the region.
But on top of simplicity, local cuisine also treasures freshness: chopped, fried, boiled, grilled, smashed, or simmered, all that comes to form a dish is chosen from the latest crop or catch, such as to offer eaters the ultimate pleasure of sampling the genuine flavours of the Tuscan territory.
Do not forget about wines. Italians in general and locals of Tuscany in particular are known for their respect for the Bacchic delight. Wash down whatever you choose to sample in any of the local restaurants with a superb glass of Chianti and let the spirit of the place take over your mood.
A traditional Sienese meal consist of starters (crostini di fegato or bruschetta, depending on your choice), a first course (pappardelle sulla leper or ribollita, as you may prefer), a main course (arista or tagliata di manzo) and a dessert (cavallucci, a sort of traditional biscuit, or panforte). These are iconic dishes you can, however, alternate with other local delights, though, if not driven by vegetarian principles, you must try while in Siena.
Siena is one of the oenological prides of Tuscany, the region’s Bacchic peaks being available to the local eating and drinking venues to meet the curiosity or craving of visitors all over the world.
From Montalcino, Brunello and Moscadello; from Chianti, a Classico or the softer Colli Senesi; from San Gimignano, a glass of Vernaccia; from Montepulciano, a gorgeous vino nobile; or from Valchiana, a taste of Bianco Vergino: all these can round off your meal and give you the satisfaction of a fully rewarding culinary adventure.
There are plenty of eating venues in Siena to service locals’ appetite and visitors’ curiosity. You might want to try those restaurants specialized in local cuisine if you want to explore Siena’s character in depth, instead of opting for international dishes you can have anywhere else you might want to travel.
There are some suggestions below, and while you can’t actually put your finger on which one outranks the others, you can at least try. Your experience will be fully rewarded. Ristorante Osteria Enoteca Sotto le Fonti, La Taverna di San Giuseppe, Antica Trattoria Papei and Grotta Santa Caterina da Bagoga Ristorante should be on the top of your eating out list.
Ristorante Osteria Enoteca Sotto le Fonti comes highly recommended to tourists. It is not the most touristy place, but this in, in fact, a guarantee prices remain on the realistic side of the market and that the food observes the authenticity of the local cuisine.
It is popular with clients interested in business meetings, romantic encounters, but also with families. It is, in brief, the topnotch choice for people – locals and visitors alike – who want to eat well in a pleasant ambiance and sample the best of traditional cuisine, also searching for the best in regional wines.
Located in the very historical centre of Siena, La Taverna di San Giuseppe is definitely one of the stops you want to make on the culinary tour of the city. Mind that you make reservations in a timely manner: being highly popular with all sorts of guests, La Taverna di San Giuseppe is usually too crowded to welcome unannounced clients.
Chefs combine creativity with the precepts of traditional cuisine, offering a gastronomic experience that bewilders palates and enchants souls. Reward yourself with the amazing choice of wines suggested by the offered lists. Food, wines, the ambiance and the décor are worth every penny.