The 24 Best Restaurants in Lecce: From Cheap Eats to Traditional Cuisine

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Lecce is one of the best places in Puglia to eat as there’s a wide range of quality restaurants from simple takeaways to traditional trattorias serving delicious regional cuisine. It’s a compact city and all our recommended restaurants are easily accessible on foot so you don’t have to worry about driving after sampling the local wine.

We recently spent a month in the city and these are the best Lecce restaurants we discovered.

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Traditional Lecce Food to Try

Each region of Italy has a unique cuisine with dishes that you won’t find elsewhere in the country. Puglia is one of our favourite Italian regions for eating—the food is simple, fresh and vegetarian-friendly. The Salento, the area of far south Puglia where Lecce is located, has even more specific food traditions. Here are some typical dishes to look out for:

  • Caffè Leccese (or Caffè in Ghiaccio) – A refreshing coffee consisting of an espresso mixed with almond milk (more like syrup) and ice cubes. I’m not a coffee drinker and even I like this.
  • Pasticiotto – A pastry stuffed with cream that’s often eaten for breakfast. Unfortunately, the pastry is made with lard so we couldn’t try it.
  • Rustico Leccese – Puff pastry stuffed with mozzarella, tomato and béchamel. It’s best warm and melty.
  • Frisa – A hard bread often topped with tomatoes as a bruschetta.
  • Pizzo Leccese – A bread roll made with tomatoes, olives, onions and a little chilli.
  • Ciceri e Tria – Pasta (some of which is fried) and chickpeas.
  • Orecchiette – “Little ears”, the classic Puglian pasta shape. Usually served with tomato sauce or cima di rape (turnip top greens).
  • Sagne ‘ncannulate – Long twisty pasta strands often served with tomato sauce and cacioricotta cheese.
  • Fave e Cicoria – Mashed fava beans with chicory greens.

And of course, don’t miss the local Salento wines like Negroamaro and Primitivo. See our Puglia food guide for more dishes to try in the region.

Bear in mind that restaurants in Italy have set meal times and in the south eating times are a little later. Lecce restaurants are usually open for lunch from 12.30pm or 1 pm until 2–3pm and for dinner from 7.30pm or 8 pm until 10 or 11 pm. It’s often difficult to figure out exact opening hours—restaurant Facebook pages are usually the best place to look. I have noted opening times below that are outside the norm.

If you want to eat outside the usual meal times, see the bars and cheap eats sections below as they usually have longer opening hours.

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Lecce Restaurants

1) Osteria da Angiulino

Orecchiette with tomato sauce at Osteria da Angiulino, one of the best Lecce restaurants and certainly the cheapest.

Orecchiette with tomato sauce at Osteria da Angiulino

Osteria da Angiulino is a simple, traditional restaurant that’s always busy and is excellent value. We started with the antipasto della casa (which is always a good option in Puglia), a large plate of flavourful marinated vegetables—peppers, courgettes, aubergine, mushrooms, and beetroot.

For mains we had the classic orecchiette with tomato and cacioricotta cheese—simple but delicious—and one of the specials of the day—a tasty dish of baked vegetables with cheese and breadcrumbs that was so good Simon was tempted to order seconds. With pasta dishes at just €6 and half a litre of house wine for €2, it was our cheapest restaurant meal in Lecce.

Details: Via Principi di Savoia, 24. Closed Sundays. Officially it opens at 8 pm but it was already busy when we arrived then. Get there earlier or ideally book.
Website: TripAdvisor listing.

2) Alle Due Corti

Vegetarian antipasto at Alle Due Corti, one of the best Lecce trattorias

Vegetarian antipasto at Alle Due Corti

Alle Due Corti is another great restaurant in Lecce to try the simple regional cuisine. We loved the large vegetarian antipasti plate that included some local dishes along with the vegetables like pitta di patate which they translated as mashed potato bread.

There’s a good number of vegetarian dishes on the menu. We enjoyed the classic Ciceri e Tria, a comforting dish of long thick pasta strands with chickpeas and black pepper. Some of the pasta strands are fried for heartiness—a sign of the region’s poor history when it had to innovate to make up for the lack of meat.

Unusually for Italy, Alle Due Corti has a vegetarian secondo (usually the meat course) of aubergine balls in tomato sauce.

Details: Corte dei Giugni, 1. Closed Sundays.
Website: Alle Due Corti.

3) La Cucina di Mamma Elvira

Burrata ravioli at La Cucina di Mamma Elvira, Lecce in Puglia

Burrata ravioli at La Cucina di Mamma Elvira

Enoteca Mamma Elvira (see below) is our favourite wine bar in Lecce and La Cucina di Mamma Elvira is their restaurant. It’s ideal if you want a heartier meal but still want to enjoy their selection of excellent wine by the glass (from €5). The staff speaks English and is helpful in choosing the best wine for you.

The restaurant describes itself as a contemporary osteria and it’s more modern and stylish than the simple places above. They serve modernised versions of classic local dishes as well as some interesting options you don’t find on other menus in Lecce.

We started with a wonderful bruschetta of semi-cooked tomatoes and pecorino cheese. For mains we shared the excellent burrata ravioli in a cherry tomato sauce and the traditional fave e cicoria, which was beautifully presented (see top photo). The fruits of the forest cheesecake served in a glass was also delicious.

Details: Via Ludovico Maremonti, 33. Closed Tuesdays. Bookings recommended for dinner.
Website: Mamma Elvira.

4) Osteria Degli Spiriti

Farro spaghetti with tomatoes, aubergine and a mountain of ricotta cheese at Osteria degli Spiriti, one of the best restaurants in Lecce, Italy

Farro spaghetti with tomatoes, aubergine and a mountain of ricotta cheese at Osteria degli Spiriti

Osteria degli Spiriti is another upmarket Lecce restaurant that serves the classics along with some more unusual dishes. We highly recommend the €20 vegetarian antipasto platter for two people. The dishes just kept on coming—mixed vegetable rice, creamy burrata, cheese souffle, zucchini and mushroom tart, sweet and sour aubergine. All served with their excellent bread.

It was a lot of food and we probably could have shared one pasta dish as their portions are generous. The ciceri e tria wasn’t my favourite version, but we enjoyed the farro spaghetti with tomatoes, aubergine and ricotta cheese.

Details: Via Cesare Battisti, 4 (just outside the centre). Closed Sunday evening and Mondays. Bookings recommended especially on weekends.
Website: Osteria degli Spiriti.

5) Dall’Antiquario

Mixed vegetable antipasti at Dall’Antiquario restaurant in Lecce, Puglia

Mixed vegetable antipasti at Dall’Antiquario

We didn’t know what to make of this quirky place at first and almost walked out. It feels more like a bar than a restaurant with English pop music, bikes hung on the walls, and a young diverse staff (one with an impressive hipster moustache). We didn’t have a reservation so we were seated on high stools at a large shared table which wasn’t the comfortable and intimate atmosphere we were looking for.

I’m so glad we didn’t leave, though. Despite the bar vibe, the menu is traditional and great for vegetarians. We had an excellent mixed vegetable plate, which isn’t on the menu but includes four of the vegetable antipasti dishes for €10 including a very good caponata. The melanzana parmigiana was also delicious and the ciceri e tria was my favourite in Lecce.

Details: Via Ludovico Maremonti, 3 on Piazzetta Santa Chiara.
Website: Dall’Antiquario.

6) Radici

Radici restaurant in Lecce, Puglia

Radici restaurant

If you’ve got to the stage when you need a break from traditional Puglian dishes, head to this trendy modern restaurant a little off the beaten track. It was full of young Italians and had an unusual menu with gluten and dairy marked and even a vegan section with two mains (veggie burger and sausage).

We shared a few antipasti and a primo and it was all wonderful—creamy cauliflower fritters, artichokes stuffed with parmesan cream, and farro ravioli with ricotta. Simon also enjoyed their special tiramisu made with rum, chilli, and dark chocolate—it doesn’t taste spicy but leaves a little heat in the back of your mouth. Radici was one of our pricier meals, but it was worth it for something different.

Details: Via S. Lazzaro, 1B. Just outside the centre. Dinner only from 8 pm.
Website: Facebook page

7) Trattoria Le Zie – Cucina Casareccia

Orecchiette with tomato at Trattoria Le Zie in Lecce, Puglia

Orecchiette with tomato at Trattoria Le Zie

Trattoria Le Zie feels a bit like eating in someone’s house—you have to ring the doorbell to get in and it has an informal vibe with the ladies rushing back and forth from the kitchen. It’s not a secret any more, though, and it was full of foreigners.

We enjoyed the vegetarian house antipasti of cannellini beans, vegetable tart, potato, olive and tomato salad, and pittule fried dough balls. But we didn’t find the mains of ciceri e tria and orecchiette with tomato to be particularly special. Although we enjoyed our meal, it felt a bit rushed and I recommend Da Angiulino or Alle Due Corti instead for a traditional meal.

Details: Via Colonnello Archimede Costadura, 19. Just outside the centre. Closed Mondays. Bookings essential.
Website: Tripadvisor listing

See our detailed Lecce travel guide for things to do in the city.

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Lecce Bars

Bars in Italy aren’t just for drinking alcohol. They are often open from early morning for coffee and pastries and are family-friendly. As well as being the place to head for breakfast, afternoon snack, or aperitivo (pre-dinner drink), bars are great for a light meal (sometimes you just crave a salad after days of pasta) or an early dinner (some bars are open throughout the afternoon or at least open earlier than restaurants).

8) Caffe Alvino

Caffe Alvino is a Lecce institution. It has outdoor seating on the main piazza so it’s perfect for watching Lecce life at any time of day. They have a wide range of pastries and cakes as well as savoury snacks like Rustico Leccese. We were disappointed that our Spritz didn’t come with free aperitivo snacks (as is common elsewhere in Italy), but we realised that free snacks are rare in central Lecce—you have to pay a few euros and order them separately.

Details: Piazza Sant’Oronzo, 30. Open all day from 7 am until late.
Website: Facebook page

9) Enoteca Mamma Elvira

"Wine bar street" in Lecce near Basilica Santa Croce

Wine bar street in Lecce

Our favourite wine bar in Lecce. Enoteca Mamma Elvira has outdoor seating on the pretty wine bar street just past Basilica di Santa Croce and is ideal for lunch, aperitivo or a light dinner. It’s the only place in town with a long list of wines by the glass (most about €5) which you can taste before you commit. We worked our way through the rosé ranging from pale pink to bright purple and all were excellent—I loved the refreshing Zimara.

Burratina and aubergine rolls at Enoteca Mamma Elvira, Lecce

Burratina and aubergine rolls with rosé

The food is also very good and it’s best to share like tapas. There aren’t a huge number of vegetarian options but there’s enough for a meal. The creamy burratina was the best we had in Puglia and paired perfectly with semi-dried tomatoes, and we also enjoyed the tomato crostone and involtini di melanzane—rolls of aubergine, cheese and tomato sauce.

Details: Via Umberto I, 19. Open all afternoon/evening from 12.15pm until late.
Website: Mamma Elvira

10) La Cantina Delle Streghe

Bruschetta at La Cantina delle Streghe, Lecce

Bruschetta at La Cantina delle Streghe

If you are looking for a good salad, head to La Cantina delle Streghe (The Cellar of the Witches) which has outdoor seating overlooking a church. There’s a range of creative salads, bruschettas, and sandwiches. Our goat’s cheese and pine nut salad and bruschetta with aubergine, mozzarella, rocket and sun-dried tomatoes were excellent and the portions huge (we could have shared for a light lunch).

It’s not a cheap meal—with three glasses of wine, water and coffee we ended up spending more than at many restaurants, but I recommend it if you’re looking for a break from pasta.

Details: Piazzetta del Duca D’atene, 7. Open all afternoon/evening from 12 pm until late.
Website: La Cantina delle Streghe.

11) Vineria Santa Cruz

We went to this bar on wine bar street when we wanted a light, quick dinner. It’s not as good as Mamma Elvira, but it has a broader menu of salads, frisa, bruschetta, cheese/meat plates, and pasta. Our salad was just OK, but we enjoyed the melanzana parmigiana and frisa with tomato, courgette, and mozzarella.

Details: Via Umberto I, 28–39. Open all afternoon/evening from 11.30am until late.

12) La Barrique

We didn’t make it to La Barrique, which is next to Enoteca Mamma Elvira, but if you are vegan, it’s worth checking out as it has vegan items marked on the menu including tofu salad, puccia (a local sandwich), and a vegan burger.

Details: Via Umberto I, 17. Open all afternoon/evening from 11 am until late.

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Lecce Cheap Eats

There are plenty of options in Lecce for quick, inexpensive meals (it is a University town after all). These places are set up for takeaway or have a few casual seats. If you want a cheap restaurant meal, we spent under €30 for two people at Osteria Da Angiulino (see above) for two courses each, wine, water and coffee.

13) Pizza & Co

Buratta pizza and Margherita pizza slices at Pizza & Co in Lecce, Puglia

Buratta pizza and Margherita

Pizza & Co is the place we ate at most during our month in Lecce—their pizza is some of the best we’ve had in all of Italy. They serve pizza by the slice, but unusually it’s not the typical thick crust squares cut into chunks. Instead, they make massive round Neapolitan style pizzas and sell big slices. You can order what’s already out on the counter or choose from the menu and they’ll cook a slice to order. You can also order a whole pizza and get two slices free (€12 for eight big slices of Margherita).

Our favourites were the classic Margherita (€2), the Greek (€3.50) with feta and olives, and Burrata (€3.50) which they made for us with sundried tomato and rocket instead of meat.

There are a couple of seats inside or on the street.

Details: Via Giuseppe Libertini, 39. From 7pm–11.30pm. Closed Mondays. Cash only.
Website: Facebook page

14) Come Vuoi Pane

We were also regulars for lunch at Come Vuoi Pane on the main square where they make excellent sandwiches to order. They have forms in a number of languages where you tick the boxes of the ingredients you want. There’s a huge variety of grilled and raw vegetables, cheeses, spreads, and meats plus white, wholemeal and six grain (our favourite) baguettes. A vegetarian sandwich with four ingredients is €4.

Details: Piazza Sant’Oronzo, 34. Open all day 10 am until late.
Website: Come Vuoi

15) Piadina Salentina

Another cheap option on the main square is this piadina (flatbread) takeaway. You can choose meat, seitan, vegetables or cheese and it’s only €2 for a piadina with two vegetarian ingredients (€0.50 for extra toppings). If it’s busy you’ll have to wait for ages, though, and we didn’t find our veggie option very flavourful.

Details: Via Vito Fazzi, 2 (Piazza Sant’Oronzo). Open all day 12 pm until midnight.
Website: Facebook page

16) Il Pizzicotto

Pizza slices at Il Pizzicotto, Lecce

As Pizza & Co isn’t open at lunchtime, Il Pizzicotto is a good option for a quick slice of pizza to take away (or sit on a bench outside). They serve the more typical square pizza slices—choose how much you want and you’ll pay by weight (a large slice is around €2–3).

Details: Via degli Ammirati, 14/D. 12pm–3pm and 6.30pm–11.30pm. Closed Sunday lunchtime.
Website: Il Pizzicotto

17) Ciro Il Pizzaiolo

Ciro Il Pizzaiolo in Lecce, Italy

Ciro Il Pizzaiolo

If you’d prefer a sit-down pizzeria, Ciro has outdoor seating on a cute little piazza with a view of a church. It’s a simple place and we preferred Pizza & Co’s pizza, but at €4 for a large round Margherita (€6 for a Vegetarian) and no cover charge, it’s great value.

Details: Via Principe di Savoia, 18. Open 7 pm – midnight. Closed Wednesdays.
Website: Tripadvisor listing

18) Prendici Gusto

Prendici Gusto is a takeaway with a few tables run by a friendly couple. You can choose from the counter of premade dishes including vegetables, tarts, melanzana parmigiana, pasta salads, and meat or they can make sandwiches or pasta to order. Everything is inexpensive (around €3–4).

Details: Via Euippa, 1/C. Open 12–3pm and 7–10pm. Closed Monday and Wednesday evenings.
Website: Facebook page

19) Zenzero

Chickpeas, baked fennel, and spinach salad at Zenzero, a healthy vegetarian restaurant in Lecce

Chickpeas, baked fennel, and spinach salad at Zenzero

Zenzero is similar to Prendici Gusto in that you order one of the prepared dishes at the counter to eat in or take away, but it’s mostly vegetarian and is a mix of Italian and international. It’s more expensive, but it’s the healthiest quick meal you can get in Lecce.

You can order a mixed plate and pay by weight—my plate of chickpeas in tomato sauce, baked fennel, and spinach and orange salad cost €5.50 while Simon’s heartier plate of pumpkin lasagna, stuffed zucchini flowers, and potato rice was €7.50.

Details: Viale dell’Università, 49. Open 11 am–3 pm and 7–11 pm. Just outside the centre. Closed Sundays.
Website: Facebook page. 

20) Mamma Lupa Bruschetteria

Bruschetta at Mamma Lupa, Lecce

Bruschetta at Mamma Lupa

A simple sit down restaurant with a range of bruschetta (toast with toppings) for €5.50. We had stracciatella/tomato/rocket and aubergine/tomato which were good if nothing special.

Details: Via Acaja, 12.

21) L’Angolino di Via Matteotti

Vegetarian puccia at L’Angolino di Via Matteotti in Lecce, Italy

Vegetarian puccia at L’Angolino di Via Matteotti

L’Angolino di Via Matteotti serves typical Salento sandwiches called puccia, which are like pitta bread stuffed with fillings. You can eat in (but pay €6 instead of €5) or take it to the nearby park.

This place gets rave reviews so I included it here even though we didn’t particularly enjoy our sandwich. This is probably because we ordered the vegetarian which includes lots of cima di rape (a local cooked green) and mushrooms which we’re not fans of.

Details: Via Giacomo Matteotti, 31. 11.30am – 3pm and 6.30pm–11pm. Closed Tuesdays (I think).
Website: Facebook page

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Best Gelato in Lecce

22) Baldo Gelato

We ate a lot of gelato in Lecce and Baldo was our favourite. It’s freshly made using natural ingredients. They do classics like dark chocolate and pistachio really well and I also loved their salted caramel and stracciatella with huge chunks of chocolate. A small cone or cup is €2.50.

Details: Via Idomeneo, 78. Open 11.30am – 11pm.
Website: Facebook page

23) Natale Pasticceria

Natale is the most popular gelato place in Lecce with a convenient location just off the main square. We were regulars here working our way through the huge range of flavours including unusual ones like pasticiotto (the Leccese pastry). My favourite combo was coconut and cherry. A small is €2.

Details: Via Salvatore Trinchese, 7. Open all day 8.45am – midnight.
Website: Natale

24) Crem Bar Gelateria

Crem is just outside the centre so attracts more locals than tourists. It’s not quite as good as the two above but still very decent especially the dark chocolate, pistachio, and cherry croccante. A generous small is €2.

Details: Via G. Marconi, 19. Open all day 7 am – midnight.
Website: Facebook page. 

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Map of Restaurants in Lecce 

This map shows our recommendations for where to eat in Lecce. Blue markers are for restaurants, pink for bars, green for cheap eats, and purple for gelaterias.

More Puglia Tips

You might find these other posts useful:

I hope our Lecce food guide helps you enjoy some delicious meals in this beautiful city. Let us know if you have any favourite restaurants in Lecce that we’ve missed.

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If you're traveling to Lecce in Italy, you do NOT want to miss out on the culinary scene. Here are 24 delicious restaurants to eat at, from cheap bites to traditional Italian cuisine. #italy #eatingitaly #eataly #italytravel #lecce #leccetravel #leccefoodguide

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