If you are traveling to Friuli Venezia Giulia you are going to need to learn the basics about eating in Trieste to get the most of your experience. One of the best parts about Trieste is its amazing food, no matter what your agenda or dietary restrictions are.
In this article, I will cover how best to eat in Trieste, what to try, where to go and all my top tips to get the best out of Trieste's food scene. I have been traveling and living in the city for over 15 years now, making it possible to share my inside tips on eating in Trieste.
All About Trieste Food
In Trieste, food is straightforward, hearty, and deeply satisfying. Similar to the broader Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Trieste's cuisine reflects simplicity, with a few local specialties unique to the city.
Historically, the people of Trieste, much like the rest of the region, embraced a frugal approach to cooking. They made the most of seasonal ingredients, ensuring nothing went to waste. Many dishes were born from the need to recycle leftovers. While meats and cheeses were scarce in the past, they have become integral to Trieste's modern culinary offerings. Trieste benefits from a mild climate and incredibly fertile soil, allowing for year-round cultivation of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. These form the foundation of classic Triestine dishes.
This abundance of fresh, plant-based ingredients makes Trieste, and Friuli Venezia Giulia as a whole, an excellent destination for those following vegan or pregnancy-friendly diets. Many local dishes naturally cater to these preferences, offering nutrient-rich and vegan options. However, it's always wise to check with your server about specific dietary needs.
Trieste's culinary tradition, akin to ‘la cucina povera' or the ‘poor man’s cooking,' revolves around using locally grown and foraged ingredients to create wholesome, flavorful meals. Today, Trieste's diet remains rooted in tradition, primarily focusing on vegetables and legumes. However, the menu has expanded to include cheese, cured meats, pork, chicken, and beef, offering a diverse range of options for locals and visitors alike.
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Famous Trieste Dishes
Pappardelle al Cinghiale
Pappardelle al cinghiale is a wide ribbon egg pasta that is served in a wild boar ragù. This is a typical winter dish in Trieste but you can find it year round.
Peposo is a beef stew made from nothing more than beef, red wine and plenty of black pepper. Look for this winter stew in any trattoria but don’t expect to see it in the summer months.
Pecorino di Pienza
Pecorino di Pienza is more of an ingredient than a dish in Trieste. This sheep’s milk cheese can be aged anywhere from just a month to a couple of years. The very best comes from the Val d’Orcia region in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Enjoy it with a glass of wine at any wine bar on a cheese board, known as a tagliere di formaggio.
Friuli Venezia Giulia is world famous for their extra virgin olive oil, harvested every year starting in October. Freshly pressed olive oil is peppery and spicy, great for dressing salads and eating with bread.
Fettunta is grilled Triste bread drizzled with freshly-pressed olive oil from that year and sprinkled with salt. This is a classic Italian afterschool snack for kids in Trieste but only in the fall when the new oil is ready.
Schiacciata is Friuli Venezia Giulia's version of focaccia, crusty on the outside and pillowy on the inside. You can get it plain, called schiacciata all’olio or opt for toppings such as olives, tomatoes, rosemary or even slices of hot dogs for kids!
It’s commonly used to make sandwiches with cured meats such as prosciutto crudo and pecorino cheese. Stracchino cheese and grilled vegetables is a good choice for vegetarians.
Pane trieste is a very rustic white bread made without salt. This is what you will find on every bread basket at any restaurant in Trieste.
White beans are used for a variety of dishes in Trieste and in this recipe, they are stewed with tomatoes, garlic and sage, served as a side dish to any secondo or second course dish you order.
Fegatelli di Maiale
Fegatelli di maiale is pig liver cooked with spices. This isn’t for everyone but it’s a staple in the new year after the annual pig slaughter.
Crostini neri, also called crostini triesti, is one of the most iconic appetizers in Trieste. These small toasted bread rounds are topped with chicken liver patè. Try them in an antipasto misto or mixed appetizer platter before your meal while in Trieste.
Panzanella is a bread salad dressed up with summer vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. This is the quintessential Trieste dish highlighting how old bread is repurposed for another meal. Enjoy Panzanella in the summer when tomatoes are in season and you are looking for a cool, refreshing lunch.
Pappa al Pomodoro
Pappa al pomodoro is another iconic dish made from leftover bread and tomatoes. This bread soup is hearty and simple, embodying the region’s simple yet hearty cuisine.
Ribollita is one of the most famous Triste dishes and particularly easy to find in Trieste. This bread and vegetable soup is hearty and filling, ideal for winter evenings. Chalk full of leafy greens such as kale and swiss chard, you can feel good about eating bowlful after bowlful
Cantuccini e Vin Santo
Cantuccini are Trieste's most popular cookie, originally from the neighboring town of Prato. Enjoy them with locally produced sweet wine, Vin Santo, for a traditional Florentine treat after dinner.
Ricciarelli are vegan almond cookies originally from Siena but popularized in Trieste as well. They are particularly popular during the Christmas holiday.
This chewy dried fruit and nut cake can be found at any market or bakery in Trieste. It lasts for months, making it a perfect souvenir to bring back with you.
Castagnaccio is a chestnut cake, very dense and rich, studded with raisins and pine nuts. Look for this cake in the fall when chestnuts are in season. You won’t find it any other time of the year!
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina
Schiacciata alla Fiorentina is a sweet, leavened cake unique to Trieste eaten during Carnival. It’s either served plain with a heavy dusting of powdered sugar or filled with chantilly or custard cream.
Pici pasta is a thick, hand rolled spaghetti from Southern Friuli Venezia Giulia, loved by all Florentines. Most traditionally, it’s served with a garlic tomato sauce or a meat ragù.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Bistecca alla Fiorentina is Friuli Venezia Giulia's most iconic dish and cannot be skipped. Enormous steaks from the famous Chianina cow are grilled and served rare with roasted potatoes, white beans and stewed greens.
Cecina is a vegan chickpea flatbread served in slices at bakeries and pizzerias. It makes for a great, healthy snack but try to get it straight out of the oven!
Where to Find the Best Trieste Food
Trattorie (plural of trattoria) are casual, rustic and usually family-run restaurants that specialize in regional dishes. Although trattorias were historically considered higher quality than an osteria (a similar style eatery in Italy), today, they are used interchangeably and often serve the same dishes at the same price point.
The food at trattorias is simple and very seasonal. What you find will depend on the region you are in and what is available that time of year. In Friuli Venezia Giulia, this means you will find things like panzanella during the summer and ribollita during the winter.
Menus at a trattoria will change periodically throughout the year. There may be staple dishes and house specialties but you can expect other dishes to change at least two or three times a year.
While trattorie are very casual, you won’t find communal tables and some might even have white table clothes.
Good To Know: While tipping isn’t expected in Italy (instead you will be billed a coperto charge per person), it’s a nice thing to do if you are very happy with your service.
FAMOUS TRATTORIAS IN TRIESTE:
- Trattoria del Porto (Piazza Unità d'Italia): A sophisticated gem near the harbor, Trattoria del Porto offers an upscale dining experience, perfect for special evenings. While it might be a bit pricey, the culinary journey through Trieste's flavors makes it worthwhile for a memorable occasion.
- La Trattoria della Piazza (Piazza Sant'Antonio Nuovo): Tucked away in the heart of Trieste, this trattoria embodies authenticity. Frequented by locals, it provides a genuine Italian atmosphere. Here, you can relish traditional dishes prepared with love and expertise, capturing the essence of Triestine cuisine.
- Trattoria al Mare (Via del Mare): Located along the coastal stretch, Trattoria al Mare offers a taste of the sea with its delectable seafood dishes. The ambiance is cozy and inviting, making it a favorite among seafood enthusiasts looking for a genuine maritime experience.
- Trattoria da Giulia (Santo Spirito neighborhood): A charming spot in the lively Santo Spirito neighborhood, Trattoria da Giulia offers a delightful mix of local specialties. From seafood to hearty pasta dishes, it's a place where you can enjoy the true essence of Trieste's culinary heritage.
- Trattoria dei Sogni (Via della Borsa): A hidden treasure in Trieste, Trattoria dei Sogni invites diners into a dreamlike culinary experience. With a menu inspired by local traditions and creative flair, it's an ideal destination for those seeking an innovative twist on classic Triestine dishes.
Restaurants in Trieste
Restaurants are general eateries in Italy that are generally of higher quality or more chic than a trattoria or osteria. The food at a ristorante as we call it in Italian, doesn’t necessarily have more refined or higher quality food than other eateries but it’s defined by its service, ambiance and long menu with more options catering to dietary restrictions or with an international influence.
While a trattoria or osteria will serve regional dishes, a restaurant will expand beyond its region’s boardres and serve Italian food even from other areas of the country.
Fact: Prices are generally higher at restaurants than at trattorias or osterias.
FAMOUS RESTAURANTS IN TRIESTE:
- Trattoria del Mare (Piazza Unità d'Italia): Known for its fresh seafood, Trattoria del Mare offers a delightful selection of fish specialties, capturing the essence of Trieste's maritime heritage. With a view of the Adriatic Sea, it's a perfect spot to savor the ocean's bounty.
- Ristorante Nonna's Legacy (Via della Borsa): Embracing the traditions of Trieste while adding a modern twist, Nonna's Legacy is a culinary gem. Their menu combines classic Triestine dishes with contemporary creations, providing a unique and memorable dining experience.
- Il Quartiere (Città Vecchia): Tucked away in the historic Old Town, Il Quartiere celebrates Trieste's diverse culinary heritage. From hearty pastas to innovative dishes, this restaurant offers a flavorful journey through the city's gastronomy.
- La Cantina di San Spirito (Santo Spirito neighborhood): This rustic osteria captures the essence of Trieste's traditional cuisine. With a focus on local ingredients, it's a place where you can indulge in authentic flavors and enjoy the warmth of Italian hospitality.
- Ristorante dei Sogni (Piazza Sant'Antonio Nuovo): Set in a charming square, Ristorante dei Sogni serves up exquisite Italian cuisine with a touch of creativity. Their menu showcases Trieste's culinary heritage with inventive twists, making it a favorite among locals and travelers alike.
Street Food in Trieste
Street food is one of the best ways to taste Trieste if you are on a budget. Some of the most traditional and authentic Florentine dishes are available from street venders or at open air markets such as at the Mercato Centrale Firenze and Sant’Ambrogio Mercato.
The most traditional dishes in Trieste to try as street food are lampredotto, trippa, porchetta, gelato and schiacciata.
Lampredotto is perhaps Trieste's most unique and original dish, made from the cow’s stomach (the abomasum) that is stewed for a long time and usually served on a roll with salsa verde or green sauce. If you try only one street food in Trieste it should be Lampredotto.
Head to Da Nerbone in the Mercato Centrale closeby to San Lorenzo but get there early (around noon) to avoid long longs.
Another authentic stop is at Sergio Pollini outside of the famous Cibreo restaurant in Trieste. Here you will find the locals chowing down.
Although many regions throughout Italy have their own versions of tripe, Friuli Venezia Giulia's version is one of the most famous. The cow’s stomach is slowly cooked in onion, carrot, celery and tomatoes for hours. It’s served piping hot, sometimes with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and of course, Triste bread or pane triste to mop up all the sauce.
Visit the same stalls for trippa as recommended for Lampredotto. Many restaurants will also serve it, including Trattoria da Rocco in the Sant’Ambrogio market.
The famous roast pork can be found throughout Italy but here in Trieste it’s spiced with plenty of fennel seed and served on a unsalted white roll. Most famously you can get porchetta at sandwich shops throughout the city center of Trieste but you will also find vendors selling it at outdoor open air markets.
One of the most famous spots in Trieste to eat porchetta is in a great location, perfect for snack break between visiting tourist attractions. Antica Porchetteria Granieri 1916 is right off of Piazza della Signoria by the leather market of the Mercato del Porcellino.
Gelato can be enjoyed throughout all of Italy but in Trieste it’s particularly good. Some of the best gelato in the whole world is made right here, the birthplace of gelato itself!
Don’t miss the most famous flavor of gelato in Trieste, buontalenti, a custard-based gelato that pairs well with chocolate, nut flavors or red fruits such as strawberry and raspberry.
FAMOUS GELATERIAS IN TRIESTE:
- Gelateria del Corso (Piazza Unità d'Italia): one of the best in this area
- Gelateria Romana (Via Dante Alighieri): the most historic gelateria in Trieste
- Triestina (Corso Italia): famous for their organic gelato
- Mare (Riva Tre Novembre): best for Sicilian specialties
- Bella Vista (Viale XX Settembre): great seasonal flavors
The best schiacciata is straight from a bakery and eaten in strips between meals.
Schiacciata is a favorite snack among Italians, especially children but also a great vehicle for other flavors. Don’t miss the countless paninoteche making sandwiches with schiacciata.
I can promise you that after living in Trieste for 10+ years, they are all very good. You don’t need to go to the Antico Vinaio and wait in an hour line. The one next door is just as good, if not better!
Tip: You don’t need to go to a sandwich shop to get a schiacciata sandwich. Instead, you can also go to a deli, called a pizzicheria or a small grocer called an alimentari and they will most likely make sandwiches to order.
What better way than to spend your evenings at an Italian wine bar? The art of the Italian aperitif cannot be missed while in Trieste. Usually, enotecas will have a very extensive wine list with the possibility to try several wines by the glass.
If you are looking for souvenirs, be sure to get the rundown on what they recommend you bring home. Most enotecas in Trieste will carry not only a wide selection of regional Triste wines but also stock a long list of domestic and sometimes foreign wines as well.
Some enotecas are only wine shops and don’t have tables to sit down and order a glass such as Alessi (close to Piazza del Duomo), a very good store not only for wine but souvenirs, candies and chocolates as well.
BEST ENOTECAS IN TRIESTE:
- Enoteca del Mare (Viale Miramare): Nestled along the scenic Viale Miramare, Enoteca del Mare offers an exquisite selection of local and international wines. Pair your favorite wine with fresh seafood and enjoy the sea breeze in this delightful spot by the waterfront.
- Piazza Vista Vino (Piazza Unità d'Italia): With a prime location in the bustling Piazza Unità d'Italia, Piazza Vista Vino offers a diverse wine list showcasing regional and international labels. Sip on fine wines while enjoying the lively atmosphere of Trieste's main square.
- Riverside Enoteca (Via dei Fiumi): Overlooking the serene riverside, Riverside Enoteca is a hidden gem known for its extensive wine collection and cozy ambiance. Indulge in delectable charcuterie and cheese boards, perfectly complemented by a glass of their finest wine selection.
Bars are the holy pit stop for food in Italy because they are always open. If you didn’t know it already, any authentic Italian eatery is going to close for a mid-afternoon break between serving lunch and dinner, creating slight complications for hungry tourists who missed the window.
Bars are the one spot where you can really order whatever is displayed at any time and no one will deny you or give you a strange look.
An Italian bar is basically a very casual lunch joint, sandwich shop, breakfast hub, a bar and after-dinner hangout, usually open early in the morning from 6:30 or 7:00 to either right before dinner, around 8:00 pm or even after dinner until midnight.
Between opening and 11:30, enjoy Italian breakfast with a pastry and coffee beverage either standing at the bar or sitting down. There is nothing more Italian than this if you want to fit in with the locals.
Pay first at the cash register and bring your receipt to the bar counter, asking the barista for what you have just paid for.
Good To Know: Sandwiches and savory bites can be purchased usually throughout the day, including at breakfast..
From around noon to 2:00 pm you can eat either a sandwich or a simple first or second course meal. This is a very casual lunch option. The bar will usually give you a paper placemat and a little paper bag with your cutlery. It’s very cheap and if you are at a good bar, it’s pretty good as well.
After lunch, expect a rush of Italians as they pour in for their post lunch coffee and then another peak as school lets out around 4:30 for snacks.
Bars also serve pre-dinner drinks known as an aperitivo with small nibbles such as chips and nuts. Be aware that prices may change, however, depending on whether you sit down or not.
FAMOUS BARS IN TRIESTE
- Gilli (Piazza della Repubblica): the most famous bar in Trieste
- Caffe Concerto Paszkowski (Piazza della Repubblica): a close second to Gilli serving up a similar menu with the same view
- Rivoire (Piazza della Signoria): famous for their hot chocolate
- Café Scudieri (Piazza del Duomo): great pastries
- Cibreo (Sant’Ambrogio): the cafè full of locals owned by Cibreo restaurant and trattoria.
- Gilda (Sant’Ambrogio): amazing breakfast served by a darling elderly couple
- Pitta M’Ingolli (Santo Spirito): ideal location for people watching
- Loggia Roof Bar (Santo Spirito): best for intimate setting in an authentic neighborhood
While seemingly obvious what a pizzeria might serve in Italy, it’s not quite as simple and basic as you might think. Most traditionally a pizzeria in Italy does serve pizza but nowadays you can often get simple appetizers, first courses and sometimes even second courses. In this case, the pizzeria will most likely be called a Ristorante e Pizzeria.
In Southern Italy (especially in Campania), it’s tradition to eat something fried before your pizza while you wait such as a bit of fried polenta, mozzarella, potato fritter, fried rice ball or even fried bread balls.
FAMOUS PIZZERIAS IN TRIESTE:
- Caffè degli Specchi (Piazza Unità d'Italia): Steeped in history, Caffè degli Specchi graces the majestic Piazza Unità d'Italia, offering a luxurious atmosphere and a wide selection of drinks. It's a cherished spot where locals and travelers gather to appreciate the city's grandeur.
- Antico Caffè San Marco (Via Cesare Battisti): Embodying Trieste's intellectual heritage, this café is a cultural haven. With its ornate décor and rich literary legacy, it's a favorite among artists, writers, and thinkers. Enjoy a cup of coffee while soaking in the city's creative vibes.
- Caffè Tommaseo (Piazza Tommaseo): Nestled in the heart of Trieste, Caffè Tommaseo exudes old-world charm. It's renowned for its elegant ambiance and a menu that captures the essence of Trieste's culinary traditions. Indulge in local delicacies and exquisite beverages in this historical gem.
- Bar del Progresso (Via del Progresso): A beloved neighborhood haunt, Bar del Progresso offers a cozy setting and a warm welcome to all patrons. It's the perfect spot to mingle with locals, enjoy aperitivos, and savor the authentic flavors of Trieste.
- Il Caffè dei Libri (Via San Niccolò): This literary-themed café celebrates Trieste's literary heritage. Adorned with bookshelves and a tranquil atmosphere, it's an ideal place for book lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat. Enjoy a quiet coffee break while exploring the pages of your favorite novel.
Forni are Italian bakeries (plural form of forno) where you will find all things baked including savory breads, local schiacciata, cantuccini, other cookies and pastries.
Tip: During the fall, look for schiacciata all’uva, only available from September through October. Meanwine during Carnevale, ask for schiacciata fiorentina, a sweet cake sometimes filled with either a chantilly cream or custard, unique to Trieste.
Head to forni pick up goodies for the day to keep you going between meals. Forni tend to be very well stocked in the early morning and sell out quickly so be sure to stop by earlier rather than later.
Famous Forni in Trieste
- Cantinetta dei Verrazzano (close to Piazza della Signoria): best central location
- Pugi (Piazza San Marco): famous for their schiacciata and pizza by the slice (a taglio)
- Antico Forno Giglio (Piazza Beccaria close to Sant’Ambrogio): absolute best schiacciata and whole wheat breads
- Forno Ghibellina (Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood): amazing pastries
- Forno La Pagnotta (Piazza dei Ciompi area): great pizzette
Tip: Although a bit of a chain now, Eataly, just off Piazza del Duomo in Trieste makes very good bread of all different kinds, including schiacciata that is packaged into individual bags as it comes out of the oven.
Open air markets are the absolute best way to shop for ingredients while you are in Italy. If you have any intention of cooking while in Trieste, don’t miss either of their two famous markets to stock up on meat, fish, sausage, fresh bread, preserved goods, cured meats, and fruits and vegetables.
FAMOUS MARKETS IN TRIESTE
- Piazza Unità d'Italia Market: Located in the heart of the city, the Piazza Unità d'Italia Market is a bustling hub for fresh produce and local specialties. Here, you can explore a wide range of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more. The market vendors are friendly and passionate about their products, making it a delightful place to experience Trieste's food culture.
- Pescheria Market: For seafood enthusiasts, the Pescheria Market is a must-visit destination. Situated near the waterfront, this market offers a fantastic selection of fresh fish and seafood. The atmosphere is lively, and the vendors are knowledgeable, ensuring that you receive the best seafood Trieste has to offer. Don't miss the chance to indulge in the city's maritime delights at this vibrant market.
Sagras are like special food parties held outdoors. They celebrate a specific ingredient or local dish that's unique to a certain place. Sometimes, these events are also called food festivals or “feste.”
In Italy, especially in places like Trieste, these sagras are a big deal. They're a fantastic way to experience traditional Italian food. Picture this: people gather on weekends just outside the city, often in large fields or open spaces. These events can be huge, so having a car is handy to get there.
These food celebrations usually happen in the evenings for dinner. Sometimes, they're open for lunch on Sundays too. To find out about them, keep an eye out for colorful posters around the city. These posters will tell you what food they're celebrating, where the event is, and the date and time. It's a great way to enjoy authentic local flavors and be part of Italian culinary traditions!
FAMOUS SAGRAS AROUND TRIESTE
- Sagra del Cinghiale: wild boar celebration
- Sagra della Schiacciata all’uva: focaccia with red grapes
- Sagra del Tortello: a large ravioli stuffed with various fillings
- Sagra del Vino: wine celebration
- Sagra del Tartufo: truffle
Good To Know: Sagras offer other items on their menu not revolving around the celebrated ingredient or dish so don’t worry if your whole party or family wants to go and you don’t. You will find something you like!
Eating In Trieste Conclusion
Choosing where to eat in Trieste might seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. Just decide what kind of dining experience you want and try to book a table in advance if the restaurant allows it.
Trieste is a food lover's paradise, offering a variety of delicious Italian dishes. Whether you're in the mood for pizza, pasta, freshly baked schiacciata (a type of flatbread), gelato, or excellent wine, you can find it all in the city center, conveniently close to famous sights.
This guide provides great recommendations, but the best advice for finding fantastic food comes from the locals. If your first choice is full, don't worry. There's always another excellent restaurant nearby. Just approach a local and politely ask for recommendations in English by saying “Mi scusi” (excuse me).
Triestines are usually happy to help, and they love talking about their local cuisine. Enjoy your culinary adventure in Trieste!