Monday, 30 September 2013

La Bersagliera

This weekend I went with a group of friends to my very favourite pizzeria. Bearing in mind that, living in Pisa, I have over 120 pizzerias right on my doorstep, almost every time I go for pizza with friends we take the 20km drive through a series of tiny villages to reach the pizzeria La Bersagliera on the outskirts of Lucca. The surroundings are not in any way spectacular, it is set right on the edge of the SS12, surrounded by residential buildings. Similarly, the interior leaves a lot to be desired with plain white walls, a series of camping-style, long, wooden tables and benches and a vast array of ornaments and trinkets that make you feel as though you are an intruder in an old lady’s retirement flat. When it comes to the service, things aren't much better, stories of the 'like it or lump it' attitude of the dinnerlady-style waitress have become local legends. We warn the two newcomers in our group to keep their heads down and not to ask too many questions! When eating at the Bersagliera you can expect to be crammed in like a sardine, presented with a menu that consists only of pizza, one variety of wine and one variety of beer and then to wait between 40 – 90 minutes for your food to arrive. Yet the thing that keeps us and so many others coming back time and time again is, of course, the incredible pizza.

The first thing that makes the pizzas so great is the toppings. The Bersagliera specialises in sourcing Calabrian ingredients, which are not so easily found in other pizzerias, such as Calabrian sausage, sopressata, sorriso (a blend of chilies), rosa marina (tiny fish in a spicy sauce) and the best olives I've ever tasted in my life. Then, there is the pizza base itself which is beautifully fresh, salty and the perfect compromise between the thin Tuscan base and the deep pizza from Naples. The best part of all is the generosity of the portions, the pizzas are easily twice the size of a standard pizza and are covered with an abundance of toppings. Most people don’t even come close to finishing a full pizza in one sitting but, for me, being able to take the rest home and eat it the next day is one of the biggest draws!

Edoardo was very happy with his calzone!
Despite its many flaws, we have also come to love the ‘alla buona’, rustic atmosphere that the Bersagliera has to offer and look forward to our monthly trips where we stuff ourselves with delicious spicy pizza. Everybody has their usual order which they go for every time, mine is the Tarantella pizza, a combination of Calabrian sausage, sorriso, scamorza cheese, aubergine and olives. This time, however, I decided to make the bold decision of adding mascarpone to my order which was a great success; the creamy cooling mascarpone worked perfectly with the spiciness of the sausage and the sorriso.

Pizza Tarantella con mascarpone
In tribute to my new pizza topping combo, I decided to make some n’duja (pronounced un-doo-ya) and mascarpone pasta for lunch today. Super simple, super quick and super tasty!

Maccheroni con n’duja e mascarpone

Serves 4 
  • 400g maccheroni rigate
  • 1tbsp n’duja sausage
  • 1tbsp mascarpone
  • Parsley for serving

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until it is al dente then drain, keeping to one side some of the pasta water. Stir the n’duja and mascarpone into the pasta, adding a little of the water until you get a smooth, creamy sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. It’s a simple as that! Buon appetito! 

You can visit La Bersagliera in via Pisana, 2136, Lucca, Italy


  1. I wouldn't be able, in spite of years od bersagliera, to describe all these emotions in the pizzeria...probably my face in the pic you posted shows that. And I'm looking forward to taste your maccheroni!

  2. Look at the beautiful colour. What gives it that lovely hue? It looks gorgeous!