Florence Dining

Original open uri20160815 3469 1rvaqi5?1471300153?ixlib=rails 0.3
Florence Dining
Eating out in Florence is generally informal and sociable; options can include everything from elegant white-cloth restaurants to rustic trattorias that serve authentic home cooking. Wine bars are popular for predinner drinks, and pizza joints attract a late-night crowd.

By Nicky Swallow, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Gianluca Moggi
  • 1 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1rvaqi5?1471300153?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Eat like a Local
    Traditional Florentine food is unpretentious—most dishes start with seasonal produce and a drizzle of olive oil. Sadly, the number of authentic, family-run trattorias serving genuine cucina casalinga (home cooking) is dwindling, so you'll have to shop around to find the real thing. Avoid the fixed-price menu turistico and look instead for a spot full of locals like Trattoria Sostanze or Trattoria i'Raddi. Once you've landed somewhere, dive into the cuisine: try chopped-liver-topped crostini, ribollita (a bread-based vegetable soup), arista (roasted pork loin), and, of course, bistecca (steak).
    Photo by Gianluca Moggi
  • 2 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 zernb4?1471300180?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Historic Caf├ęs
    Florence’s historic cafés are the place to splurge and linger over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Caffè Rivoire with its front-row view of the Piazza della Signoria is a fantastic spot for a morning espresso or rich hot chocolate. On the edge of the Piazza della Repubblica, the ornate Belle Époque style of Caffè Gilli lends a simple macchiato a boost of elegance. If you find yourself at the train station, grab an espresso at Reale Firenze, in what was once a royal residence. The refined Procacci is perfect for an afternoon prosecco.
    Photo by Peter Erik Forsberg/age fotostock
  • 3 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 vd9vzs?1471300166?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Tripe and Other Offal
    Be bold and try this traditional Florentine street food. Follow the locals to a trippai (tripe vendor) that sells snacks from street carts. The specialty is lampredotto, or cow’s stomach, and is most delicious when served on a roll with swipes of bright salsa verde and fiery chili paste. In the Oltrarno, your best choice is Il Trippaio di San Frediano. You can also find tripe stands at the Porcellino Market (also called the Mercato Nuovo) and on Via de’Macci. If you're looking for tripe on a restaurant menu, you will most likely see it served cold in a salad or Florentine-style with tomato sauce and a dusting of Parmesan cheese.
    Photo by Peter Erik Forsberg/age fotostock
  • 4 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 94fqrb?1471300171?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Florence's Signature Dish
    Florence’s signature dish, bistecca alla Fiorentina, is ideally sourced from highly-prized Chianina beef. The vast T-bone steak should be two fingers thick and served rare. (If you ask the waiter to have it cooked longer, you’ll be regarded as a philistine.) The steaks are enormous—they are meant to share with the table. Cut hearty slices and dress the meat with nothing but its natural juices. If you must have a side, try a plate of plain fagioli (cannellini beans), drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a twist of black pepper. Wash it all down, of course, with a bottle of good chianti. For a great bistecca, book a table at Osteria delle Belle Donne.
    Photo by Hans Gerlach/age fotostock
  • 5 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 11rs7wi?1471300157?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Gourmet Dining
    For celebratory meals, Florence offers sophisticated, white-linen restaurants where chefs riff on the culinary traditions handed down by their mamas. Dine like the aristocracy at Cantinetta Antinori, a stately restaurant set in a 15th-century palazzo. For something more modern and airy, snag a top table with a view: Head to SE.STO on Arno on the highest floor of the Westin Excelsior hotel, or to sleek Borgo San Jacopo, with a Michelin-starred kitchen and close-up views of the Ponte Vecchio. During daylight hours, Irene, in the Hotel Savoy, offers a sunny terrace perfect for an elegant lunch.
    Photo by Nicky Swallow
  • 6 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 6t7isj?1471300175?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Wine Bars
    Tuscany is world-renowned for its wines, and a stop at an enoteca provides the best (and most authentically Florentine) way to sample the multitude of super Tuscans, brunellos, and Chianti Classico Riservas from the surrounding region. These shops not only sell wine but usually have tables where you can pair a glass with a light meal. Le Volpi e l’Uva, near the Ponte Vecchio, is a friendly spot that offers less familiar vintages, and Fantappiè Fiaschetteria in the Oltrarno dispenses the family chianti on tap.
    Photo by Gianluca Moggi
  • 7 / 7
    Original open uri20160815 3469 1eaeglx?1471300184?ixlib=rails 0.3
    Mouthwatering Gelato
    A cold and creamy scoop of gelato is the perfect Italian snack for a hot afternoon. To find the best, look for signs that say PRODUZIONE PROPRIA ("homemade") or ARTIGIANALE ("artisanal"). Cross over the Arno to the Gelateria della Passera for classic seasonal tastes and a pretty piazza location. My Sugar dispenses creative flavor combinations you are unlikely to find anywhere else. Even the chocolate shop Vestri has a small gelato selection. (Remember you can order two flavors—or more.)
    Photo by Otto Stadler/age fotostock