Arriving in any new city is exhilarating and thrilling and Florence is no exception. I’ve been a few times in the past but it had been a decade since my last foray in the city so remembering where to eat needed fresh research. One exception is Il Latini, which is a Florence culinary institution, that is always worth seeking out.
Il Latini: Via dei Palchetti, 6R
Hams hang from the ceiling at this charming Florence eatery that has exceptional Florentine food and welcoming staff. It is a place to linger and enjoy the buzzy atmosphere and a real sense of occasion when you go there.
So the other places to recommend when you visit are as follows:
Trattoria Mario: Via Rosina, 2r,
This place is a real gem, that was so good we returned to twice. The first time it was so busy that we were ushered to what seemed like a store room in the cellars with wine stacked up. Tables were huddled together and we all felt rather grateful to have been giving a table at all as its the kind of place that you want to arrive as close to noon as possible to guarantee a table. The menu changes daily – its short, which all good menus should be (in my view). It is equally loved by tourists and locals as the food is excellent, very kind to the wallet and has a good traditional trattoria vibe. Be warned if you are in small group you will be sharing a table with others, but that makes it all more fun right?
We had to wait for about 5 minutes on one occasion otherwise we were seated immediately. The courgette ravioli, below was very memorable and I will certainly try to replicate it myself in my own kitchen.
Got to love a birds eye view!
L’Giuggiolo – Osteria/Pizzeria: Viale Augusto Righi, 3 A/D
Recommended by the taxi driver who was extremely enthusiastic that we go. Within a few mouthfuls of food we understood the reason for his pride. We would not have naturally visited it as it sits anonymously on the road at the outer environs of Florence, just outside Fiesole. You can take the bus to Fiesole or a taxi which takes around 15 minutes. The food is sublime and the service is relaxed giving us a very comforting Sunday lunch experience. The pastas were perfectly cooked and generous and the bistecca was as good as any we have eaten. Furthermore being outside the tourist centre the bill was much more modest. It’s location makes it a good place to have a post or pre-lunch hike, so take some good walking trainers.
La Menagere: Via de Ginori 8r
This places oozes cool with its crittall windows, arched vaulted ceilings, its miss matched lamp shades and stone flooring. It’s one of those concept stores that gives you the option to buy all manner of wonderful things – whether its some beautiful flowers, music, a pastry and coffee, breakfast or perhaps a more refined evening meal. Whilst we did not eat here, it goes on the list as it is very different from anything else I saw in Florence and is a good place to have a pre-dinner cocktail or a coffee and watch the world go by. It would not be out of place in London’s Shoreditch, New York’s Brooklyn, Tel Aviv’s Jaffa or LA’s Echo Park or Silver Lake.
Gelateria Santa Trinita: Piazza Dei Frescobaldi, 8/red
Florence is teaming with gelateria but if you are not careful you will be paying overinflated prices if you opt to buy one too near the Ponte Vecchio. Gelateria is perfectly positioned just by the Ponte Santa Trinita, which affords excellent views of the Ponte Vecchio. Portion size is super generous – I opted for the smallest size in a cone and as you can see from the photo below I could pick two flavours – nocciola (hazelnut) and black sesame (definitely try this one if you have not done so before). It came to 2.80 euros – the same portion at one near the Ponte Vecchio was 6.50 euros. There is lots of choice and the quality is very good.
Osteria Del Cinghiale Biano: Borgo S.Jacopo, 43r
Located on the ground floor of a thirteenth century tower in Borg San Jacopo, one of the quaintest streets of medieval Florence. The first dining room is situated right in the old tower, with the original antique stone walls in view. The second dining room and the kitchen were built in the tower’s old courtyard, which was covered by vaults in 1500 in order to best bear the weight of the historic building. It’s rustic and charming and the staff were attentive and welcoming. Wild boar and truffles feature on the menu so are definitely worth trying. The tiramsu is also an obvious choice for dessert and got a definite thumbs up from my family. You do need to book though so don’t just turn up.
La Bussola: Via Porta Rossa, 56r
If pizza is what you are after then La Bussola will definitely tick that box. The restaurant is a lot bigger than it appears at first glance, with options to sit at regular tables inside or outside or on stools up at a marble bar. There was a wide choice of pizza – as well as lots of non-pizza options too. I can’t fault the pizzas – they were the right thickness, were generously covered and tasted great. Whilst you probably could walk in off the street, we had made a booking to be on the safe side.
Mercato Centrale: Via dell’Ariento
This place is Florence’s answer to Borough Market. Downstairs artisans sells there wares with hams, cheeses and olives galore, upstairs is a massive food court which is super busy and the perfect place to pick up a snack or two and a beer. Whilst you can eat at that level – which is hard as so many people are trying to also find a seat – I recommend finding your way up to another level, with more seating and a chance to actually sit down.
Alimentari Uffizi: Via Lambertesca, 10/R
A biouji family run deli, a stones throw from the Uffizi gallery down a quiet street. It is a great place to stop for a glass of wine and a plate of prosciutto from the present owners’ son’s farm. You perch on wooden stools and tables and order a range of delicious antipasti. It’s the type of place that you are really happy to have stumbled across as it feels so welcoming and Italian.
Ristorante Toto: Borgo Santi Apostoli, 6r,
After arriving into Florence around lunch time we decided to find somewhere close to the station that we could walk to with our luggage and indulge in a bowl of pasta – as you do! After some speedy research we opted for Toto Firenze. It’s spacious and buzzing and the waiters were welcoming as they showed us to our table. The restaurant prides itself on its famous ‘ fiorentina bistecca’ and looking at those served up on other tables (as well as the meat fridge below) it was most impressive, but we were craving pasta so all opted for the spaghetti carbonara. Portions were generous and the food tasted great. Price wise the restaurant is also very good – so a perfect place to go with a family or group.
So that’s it folks. We ate at a few other restaurants that were good, but bang for buck I felt the ones above were more of a ‘home run’.
If you discover any different from this list do leave a comment in the comments box below, I would love to know. Equally if you try any of the above let me know what you think. Did you have an equally good experience?