When Eating Means Understanding
A visit to Florence reveals a city embracing its historic past, while remaining a cultural leader in food, fashion and the arts. Let’s discover together some Florentine foods that you won’t want to miss.
In the words of Andrea Bocelli, the lampredotto, named for its resemblance to the lamprey eel, once very abundant in the waters of the River Arno, is a delicacy both “humble and tasty”. Although not a dish for tourists, being somewhat of an acquired taste, it helps those who savor it to understand the popular and ancient local cuisine. The Florentine cuisine offers many specialties, from appetizer’s based on cold meats and crostini, to bread soup, the “Fiorentina” (a grilled T-bone steak served rare), baccala’ (dried cod) and a typical chocolate cake. Even today, many lampredottai sell the traditional lampredotto from their kiosks scattered around Florence, either as a “moist” sandwich, with the bread partially soaked in broth, or “in zimino”, in other words stewed with chard.
Another delicious dish is Papardelle al Cinghiale that is usually paired with a heavy sauce, such as a ragu. In terms of meat, this recipe can be made with Cinghiale which is wild boar or wild hare, goose and rabbit. Wild boar meat is surprisingly delicious, with a rich flavor and texture that makes for a luxurious ragu.
One of the most traditional antipasto is crostini – a chicken liver paté on top of a piece of crunchy Tuscan bread. Note: crostini and bruschetta have nuanced differences. Usually, the term bruschetta is used for bigger slices of rustic, poor bread, whereas crostini call for smaller pieces of bread and the type can vary from loaves or baguette.
Some people say that this dish is similar with the Spanish Gazpacho, but less liquid. Pappa al Pomodoro, literally translated as ‘reheated’, is a traditional Tuscan soup made with bread, tomatoes, beans and many vegetables and herbs. While in the medieval period this was a common dish, today it has become one of Florence’s most hearty foods.
Of course, it’s a must to also mention the special wines, if we’re talking about these appetizing dishes. The most notable red wine is the Chianti Classico, made with perfect purple Sangiovese grapes grown in the golden sunlight of the Tuscan hills. Brunello is another great red produced in Montalcino, a small Tuscan hilltop town. Compared to Pinot noirs, this wine is one of the more expensive wines in the region, because it’s made from a blend of grapes grown in two different microclimates. If you prefer white wines, you can also try Bianco della Valdinievole or Bianco Vergine della Valdichiana. Sipping a glass in Florence on a sunny spring afternoon, while surrounded by medieval architecture and the Tuscan countryside, is an experience like no other.
If you’re looking for great places to experience la dolce vita in Florence, let’s take a closer look on our special list of restaurants, pizza, fine-dining and options for every budget. We’ll spotlight the newest places open in Florence, which will entice your taste buds with appetizing dishes and breathtaking views.
Floret – Artisan Kitchen & Bar
For a magnificent culinary experience, we’ll recommend to take a special lunch at Floret! Here, they unite the best flavors with organic top-notch ingredients for a culinary concept that invites you to nourish and energize. Traditional recipes are reworked into contemporary ones, with clean eating food concepts that satisfy all kinds of tastebuds. With 16 Euros, you can try homemade marinated angus beef patty on a homemade brioche bun, cheddar cheese, basil mayo, barbeque sauce, avocado, baby spinach with a side of sweet potato fries and chili mayo. Sounds very tasty, isn’t it?
Gucci Osteria by Massimo Bottura
Conceived by creative director Alessandro Michele, the newly designed space features a store with one-of-a-kind items, the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura – a restaurant by three Michelin star chef and the Gucci Garden Galleria exhibition rooms curated by critic Maria Luisa Frisa. The menu of the Florentine restaurant includes iconic Italian dishes, as well as conceptual twists on classics for an all-day dining experience. Having the chance to taste a bit of Massimo’s food is a five-star experience that you should not miss!
If you want to taste the best Florentine steak, visit Osteria dell’Enoteca, a lovely restaurant which offers traditional Italian dishes accompanied by traditional Italian wines in a comfortable, yet refined environment. The Chianina bone in steak is an excellent dish and the baked cheesecake with raspberry sauce will exceed all your expectations. Well worth a visit when you’re visiting Firenze!
Tucked in a corner on a small piazza, south of the Arno and west of the Ponte America Vespucci, Trattoria Sabatino is away from the tourists’ crowds. Trattoria Sabatino can be described as a timeless restaurant with traditional Italian food and great ambiance. Order the spaghetti pomodoro, or the roast chicken and potatoes. Also, you can try the fresh pasta, the piati del giorno and don’t leave without having dessert and an espresso. No matter what you order, here it will be great!
Get ready to taste tajines, cous-cous and other dishes coming from Mediterranean countries. A part of the menu is also dedicated to the vegetarian guests. The proprietor is quite a foodie and wine expert. Culinaria Bistro is a very special place in Florence where you can find the best tagine meals (cooked in the typical Moroccan ceramic pot) and the meat (chicken or lamb) is soft and melting in your mouth, together with the delicious vegetables. All the flavours and spices blend perfectly. Do yourself a favor and go, you won’t regret it!
Il Santo Bevitore
Another great place for when you need a break in a relaxed atmosphere, Il Santo Bevitore is one of Florence’s hidden gems with a nice wine list and a collection of lovely pasta starters. Friendly service, great atmosphere and reasonable prices are the best words to describe this local Florentine restaurant. If you don’t know santo bevitore means the holy drinker, so rest assured there’s a stellar wine list. This is a popular spot, so be sure to make reservations.
A place to explore for tireless travelers. Momio Firenze is a restaurant divided in two places: the Cafeteria with its international flavors and casual environment and downstairs, the restaurant portion where you will descend in an elegant, intimate and luminous dimension, with linen tablecloths and fresh flowers. The service and food are outstanding. If you are looking for creative dishes, look no further! The eggs Benedict are famous, but you can also try pork loin marinated in caramel with apple puree or ravioli with roasted chicken, dust of herbs and broth of roasted potatoes. We highly recommend this place!
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina
The Enoteca is located in front of the Pitti Palace, near the Ponte Vecchio in the historic Oltrarno quarter of Florence’s city center. In order to create a true Tuscan experience for every guest, many of the wines are served by the glass and all are accompanied by the extensive knowledge of the team. The menu consists of traditional and also modern Italian cuisine made from fresh, local ingredients. Here, you can enjoy the fresh pastas, local cheeses and a stunning view of the Medici’s Pitti Palace. A truly unforgettable dining experience awaits you!
Ristorante Ora d’Aria
This is a 1 starred restaurant inside the city. The restaurant decor has pure class which is evident from the moment you walk through the door. Their young chef Marco Stabile has contributed to some of Italy’s finest kitchens, including the famed “Baghino” in Prato, “Il Salotto del Chianti”, the Antinori-owned “Osteria di Passignano”, the Beringer Blass-managed “Cavaliere del Castello di Gabbiano”, “Il Paese dei Campanelli” and “Il Chiasso dei Portici” to name a few. All the dishes are visually stunning, very creative with delicious and unusual flavor combinations. For a gastronomic journey, you should visit Ristorante Ora d’Aria.
Located on the ground floor of the Palazzo della Gherardesca, Il Palagio, awarded one Michelin star, features vaulted ceilings, elegant décor and lovely views of the inner gardens. For lunch and dinner, authentic Italian cuisine is thoughtfully prepared featuring local flavours. Executive Chef Vito Mollica and his team also prepare multi-course tasting menus with wine and food pairings. Most of guests come here to celebrate their birthday or wedding anniversary, so if you have something to honor, we recommend you to visit Il Palagio for a very special evening in a beautiful setting.
Don’t miss all the opportunities to discover the local wines paired with gorgeous scenery and delicious food abound in this region. With this article, we hope that we give you some tasty inspiration to find the original and authentic flavors of this city. Have fun on your holiday and don’t forget to let us know if you tried any of these specialties… Vacation mood ON! Book your next trip, right now!