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Tuscany’s best affordable restaurants

Tuscany has no shortage of authentic restaurants. But the best? We turned to local villa owners, who would only leave their own kitchens for just the right spot.

Trattoria Dardano

Three generations of Castellis have been running this 70-seat restaurant for the past 28 years. Alfiero and his oldest son, Marco, hunt and prepare the wild game, while Alfiero's wife, Ilva, whips up the pasta and desserts. Alfiero's mother, Mimma, has the green thumb in the family and grows the herbs, greens, and tomatoes on the Castelli farm. Ilva and Alfiero's youngest son, Paolo—who customers say is sweeter than his mom's tiramisu—runs the front of the house (via Dardano 24, 011-39/0575-601-944, closed Wednesdays, dinner from $22). See photo.

Ristorante di Pietrafitta
While the interior of this restaurant, in a 130-year-old building, is on the small side, the outdoor terrace is positively glorious. Regulars' favorite dishes: ravioli stuffed with pecorino cheese and pear (it tends to sell out fast); bistecca alla fiorentina, T-bone steak drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with rock salt; and stracotto, pot roast that's slow-cooked with tomatoes, onions, rosemary, and red wine (localita Pietrafitta 41, 011-39/0577-741-123, open Easter to November, closed Saturdays, dinner from $43). See photo.

Bar Dante
Long before Fabrizio Ferrucci and his wife, Carolyn, opened their bustling restaurant and bar, the space was a hotspot of a different kind. In the 1400s, the building served as a public oven where villagers came to bake their own bread. Today, the Ferruccis serve more than 15 types of pastries each morning (yes, 15). For lunch and dinner, the oven does double duty, baking five kinds of bruschetta, the house specialty (piazza Dante Alighieri 1, 011-39/0577-738-815, closed Saturdays, sandwiches from $4.25). See photo.

Buca di Sant'Antonio
It makes sense that this local favorite has regional dishes down to a science. The place has been in business for more than 225 years, after all. The menu centers on traditional Lucchese cuisine, such as hearty farro soup (a dish that's been around even longer than the restaurant) and the house specialty, tortini, little pies filled with ricotta cheese and porcini mushrooms foraged from the nearby hills (via della Cervia 3, 011-39/0583-55-881, closed Sunday evenings and Mondays, dinner from $43).See photo.

Ristoro di Lamole
The chefs here take their cues from the seasons, hitting the local food markets every day at 5 a.m. to pick up fresh ingredients. Fresh asparagus figures prominently on the menu in the spring, and in the fall, porcini mushrooms are a fixture. A few of the dishes, such as the egg noodles with fresh truffles, are so popular that they're served year-round. If the weather is nice, ask for a seat on the terrace; the view includes the Chianti hills and Panzano (via di Lamole 6, 011-39/0558-547-050, dinner from $36). See photo.