Cantine Bernardini

This restaurant slash wine bar used to be known here in Lucca as Don Quixote. I would go for a drink every now and then, but the food was never anything special, so it eventually closed down. Two years ago, they reopened with a new owner, new name, and new chef and I think they got everything right this time.

I ate there this past May for a tasting with a caterer that the owner collaborates with, so I have to say that I ate off the menu, but the experience was memorable. Every dish was unique and extremely well prepared. The owner, Massimo, is a sommelier, so the wines he paired with our different courses were perfect.

What I really liked about this restaurant is that they dare to reinvent Lucchese cuisine instead of just sticking to the typical dishes you can get at every restaurant in town. For example, a dish that you will find on every restaurant menu here in Lucca is "Tortelli al Ragù". Typically, this would be a ravioli sized pasta stuffed with chopped meat that is lightly seasoned with clove in a read meat sauce. The chef at Cantine has completely turned this dish around and instead offers it as fresh pasta stuffed with potatoes and sausage and tossed with slivers of truffles! Talk about raising the bar. Bravo to you chef Daniele!

If you like to eat creative dishes that you can't necessarily reproduce at home, then I think Cantine Bernardini is well worth a visit. The menu changes with the season. Here are a few examples of some of the dishes they are offering on the menu this season:


Potato and smoked salmon timbale plated on a base of creamed beet root and raspberry vinegar sauce accented with cream of red trout paté 10,00 euro

Purée of chickpeas topped with sweet and sour onions and crispy balls of fried cod fish 10,00 euro

First Courses

"Tortelli" fresh pasta stuffed with potatoes and sausage and tossed with slivers of fresh truffles 14,00 euro

Spatzle made with chestnut flour and served with potato cubes, bacon, swiss chard and pecorino cheese 12,00 euro

Second Courses

Fennel encrusted pork tenderloin served with a carrot flan 15,00 euro

Roast duck with smoked heart served on a veluté of oranges and red onion petals 17,00 euro

Sliced beef with truffles served with string beans wrapped in bacon 20,00 euro


"Stracciatella" style pudding made with fresh ricotta cheese, dark chocolate and fresh figs 6,00 euro

Dome of dark chocolate 7,00 euro

Pineapple and Pistachio Bavarian Cake 7,00 euro

Opening Hours:
Lunch: 12:30 to 14:30
Dinner: 19:30 to 22:00
Closed: Mondays for lunch and all day Sunday

Contact Info:
Cantine Bernardini Via Suffragio, 7
Tel: 0583 494 336

Walking Directions: Walk to Piazza Bernardini. Just opposite the parking lot is Palazzo Bernardini. The restaurant is located on the back entrance to the Palazzo, basement level, so you'll have to walk behind the Palazzo and then look for a green door with a bird on it. There are a few tables outside.

posted by gina, 2010-10-04

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