Get your foodie fix with this Insider’s Guide to Restaurants in Florence, Italy. Buon Appetito!
Florence is a cultural destination for art, history, as well as food and wine. But, how do you find a good place to eat in Florence?
In 2012 Florence, Italy, ranked the 89th most visited city in the world attracting 1.8 million tourists annually. – Euromonitor International
Sure, you can hit up TripAdvisor, Yelp, and the like but, they tell you the same thing as everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I use these sites. I don’t book a hotel without consulting TripAdvisor, and if I don’t have time for research they are my go-to in a pinch when it comes to meal time.
But, when I have the time to really map out a trip, food gets an involved search from me because it offers a glimpse into an area’s core culture. It sheds light on its roots, the ways of the people, and their history. I don’t care if a location is new or an institution. I just want my meal served with a side of authenticity — representative of the culture.
For that reason expats are my go-to resource for foodie exploration. They know their stuff and are excited to share it. That said, I enlisted the help of five Florence expats for my recent travels there. Each will be referenced quite a bit in my Florence blog series.
This first post, An Insider’s Guide to Restaurants in Florence, was built of recommendations from each one these amazing gals:
- Coral, The Curious Appetite
- Georgette, Girl in Florence
- Tiana, Tiana’s Travels
- Nardia, Lost in Florence
- Alexandra Lawrence, The Florentine
Let’s start at the top. Breakfast in Italy is really just a pastry and a coffee, so let’s talk caffé.
Restaurants in Florence for Breakfast
Every single one of these fine gals suggested this place for brunch or just a shot of espresso. It’s a hip location with a great vibe. My American heart fluttered at the sights and sounds of people tap-taping away on their computers. It’s not exactly the norm in my part of the world, and I understand people working in coffee shop is somewhat confusing to Italians. In Italy a coffee break is just that, a break.
The venue in Santa Croce offers brunch, pastries, and unique coffee drinks from award-winning barista Francesco Sanapo. According to his Twitter account he was the Italian barista champion in 2010, 2011, and 2013. Apparently it’s even a swinging apertivo joint with craft beer and 90 types of gin.
Me? I try to stay away from the gin right after lunch. At Girl in Florence’s recommendation I tried the flat white, a coffee drink from New Zealand that is prepared by pouring microfoam (apparently that’s fancy for steamed milk with small, fine bubbles) over a single or double espresso. I was sold because it was like a cappuccino, but not called that so it felt less offensive to order after lunch.
Italian Coffee Tips:
>> No Cappuccino after 11:00: Traditionally Italians don’t do milk drinks after lunch. Truth be told locals in my ‘hood imbibe. Proceed at your own risk when ordering after 11:00. But, we beseech you to not order a cappuccino with or after dinner.
>> The non-offensive afternoon Cappuccino alternative: If you are like me and simply must have have something to temper the espresso impact (me on straight espresso? No one needs that!) order a caffé macchiato or a caffé Americano. The macchiato has just enough milk (usually steamed) to keep the bitter away. The Americano is generally served with water or milk on the side.
>> Latte drinkers, beware: Latte means milk in Italian, so if you order a ‘latte’ you will get just that, a glass of cold milk. Order a caffé latte and you will be served accordingly. If you want it iced, simply ask for it ‘freddo’.
>> Caffé on the cheap: Stand at the bar and you pay less for your coffee drink. And, when ordering a coffee, simply request “il caffé”.
Find it! Ditta Artigianale
- Address: 32r Via dei Neri
- Phone: +39 005 274 1541
- Opening Hours:
- Monday through Thursday, 8:00 to 22:00 (10:00 p.m.)
- Friday, 8:00 to 24:00 (12:00 a.m.)
- Saturday, 9:30 to 24:00 (12:00 a.m.)
- Sunday, 9:30 to 22:00 (10:00 p.m.)
- Price Range: Coffee drinks start at 1.50 euros, pastries start at 2 euros, brunch starts at 5 euros
Restaurants in Florence for Lunch
Coral with Curious Appetite introduced me to this teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall where a wine barrel and four-seat bar serve as ‘dine-in’ options. Semel is just off Sant’Ambrogio market. You really have to focus to not miss it (I nearly did!)
The panino spot offers unique combos — mixtures vary daily based on traditional Tuscan cuisine with things like slow-cooked beef stracotto, duck ragu pasta, cinghiale (wild boar), porchetta (suckling pig). Coral pointed out one of her favorite quirks to the place, the owner and his nephew dress dapper daily with a tie. Adorable.
I ooh’d and ahh’d over the menu, struggling to make a decision. Little did I know, Coral knows people. She ordered a sampler selection for me. It’s not on the menu, but they do it because they dig her. Our plates arrived, two tasters at a time, open-faced on crostini. Generally a panino here is in a bun.
If you do a Curious Appetite Food Tour, ask for a visit here. They serve panini, non-alcoholic drinks, wine, and beer.
Find it! Semel
- Address: Piazza Lorenzo Ghiberti 44r
- Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11:30 to 15:30 (3:30 p.m.); Sunday, Closed
- Price Range: Panini start at 4 euros.
I started my day with Georgette at this out-of-the-way panino shop where mostly Italian is spoken.
If the Florentines are going to pay eight euros for a panino, it better be good – Georgette, Girl in Florence.
I’m pleased to report. It was.
The menu was written on the wall on brown butcher paper. Love those little things. I went with the Toscanino, a mix of local ingredients including salumi, percorino, and a lovely mustard-based fig spread that I desperately wish I would have bought. They sell it by the jar.
Find it! Ino
- Address: 7r via de’Georgofili
- Opening Hours: Sunday to Monday, 11:00 to 17:00 (5:00 p.m.)
- Price Range: Pannini can run 8 euros
Resturants in Florence for Aperitivo
Another favorite of my Florence Insider Crew. Everyone recommended it and it was easy to see why. Le Volpi e l’Uva was started by a group of winemakers and sommeliers who wanted to bring Florence ‘interesting and lesser-known wines’ produced by wineries that offer top quality taste at affordable prices.
In addition to a fantastic menu it is has great outdoor seating. I went here on my daytime foodie tour with Coral from Curious Appetite. She sat me down, introduced me to the owner, and he worked his magic. He started me with a simple (don’t mistake simple for ordinary – it was anything but) plate of local meats and cheeses, fresh tomatoes, and some incredible green olives. Gnam. That was served with two local whites (Vermentino and Verdeccicho). Next up, the most beautiful set of hot crostini I’ve ever had. One with lardons (melts in the mouth!) and the other with sausage; don’t worry, they didn’t forget the cheese! Do your mouth a favor and ask for both.
What is Aperitivo?
Aperitivo is served before a meal. It usually consists of a drink and a light snack, similar to happy hour in the western world. The purpose is to open the palate. Traditional drinks include a sparkling wine (bollicine) or an aperitif, like the popular Spritz served in Italy.
Find it! Le Volpi e l’Uva
- Address: Piazza de Rossi 1
- Phone: +39 055 239 81 32
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday: 11:00 to 21:00 (9:00 p.m.) *Reservations recommended for outdoor seating.
- Price Range: 8 to 20 euros
I connected with Tiana of Tiana’s Travels when I first made my expat entry. We keep trying to get together, but end up missing each other. Currently she’s working her TianaPix Instagram magic in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Check it out – I am from Colorado, so I’ve got love for the Wild West, but she’s got me believing #WestIsBest in a whole new way.
Despite not getting an in-person Tiana Tour she provided a list me of must-eat, -do, -see activities. I started as soon as I arrived at her favorite wine bar in the Santo Spirito neighborhood. It has a fantastic wine list and the aperitivo spread was great. The staff was very attentive and talked through the wines and offered suggestions. I really loved the white metal stools.
Find it! Il Santino
- Address: Via S. Spirito, 60r
- Phone: +39 055 2302820
- Opening Hours: Daily, 12:30 – 23:30 (11:30 p.m.)
Tameró is in the Santo Spirito neighborhood and I visited this place for aperitivo, but they also offer a full lunch and dinner menu. The funky hotspot is newer, opening in just the last few years, with food options from all over Italy and around the world. The big draw is the open kitchen so you can see the pasta in process as you walk through the door. I was excited because I saw salsa and chips at the self-service apertivo bar. But, Coral took care of me with another sampler platter made specially for us from the kitchen. All delish, which convinced me it would be worth my time to have a full meal here on my next Florence visit.
Find it! Tamero
- Address: Piazza Santo Spirito 11r
- Phone: +39 055 282596
- Opening Hours: Daily, Lunch 12:00 to 15:00 (3:00 p.m) and Dinner 19:00 (7:00 p.m.) to 2:00
Get the scoop on aperitivo in Florence:
>> Girl in Florence: Why Aperitivo Still Matters
>> Curious Appetite: Aperitivo Time in Florence: Basics and Tips
Restaurants in Florence for Dinner
Next on my virtual Tiana Tour was a ristorante famous for its medieval and renaissance Tuscan recipes, most notably the Cinghiale in chocolate sauce. When I arrived they had already served the last helping. I spotted duck on the menu, which surprised me as I don’t often think of duck with Tuscan food. My server explained that it is in fact a traditional recipe. You see, Catherine de’ Medici loved french recipes, and duck was a favorite. So, she had a recipe developed in Florence. It was amazing. I also started with a goose carpaccio that was so delicate and savory. I wrapped up with the local cantucci and Vin Santo. Dip the biscotti in the Vin Santo, people!
Find it! La Pentola dell’Oro
- Address:Via di Mezzo 24 Angolo via dei Pepi (Santa Croce)
- Phone: +39 055 241808
- Opening Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, Closed Sunday.
- Price Range: 8 to 20 euros
Situated just feet from Ponte Vecchio, Ristorante Buca dell’Orafo is not a likely stop for the tourist crowd. The humble location is marked by a non-descript lit-up sign that sits over the door. You head down a small stairway that opens to a little dining room that appears to be set-up with card tables and folding chairs. I was a bit skeptical of the menu at first. Meatballs, tripe, goat…nothing was jumping out at me.
I visited this place with Coral who explained it’s about as authentic as you get with true peasant-style Florentine food. She was so excited about everything on the menu that I took a deep breath and ordered the goat. Holy crap. It was so flavorful and tender. And, Coral’s meatballs, which she likened to meatloaf were incredible, especially the sauce. If you are on the hunt for something authentically traditional, Buca is your place. But, make a reservation as they can only fit so many people!
Find it! Ristorante Buca dell’Orafo
- Address: Via dei Girolami, 28r
- Phone: +39 055 21 36 19
- Email: email@example.com
- Opening Hours:
- Monday: Only open for dinner, 19:30 (7:30 p.m.) to 22:00 (10:00 p.m.)
- Tuesday through Saturday, Lunch: 12:30 to 14:00 (2:00 p.m.), Dinner: 19:30 (7:30 p.m.) to 22:00 (10:00 p.m.)
- Sunday: Closed.
Another great traditional find, brought to me by Coral. She was so excited about eating here that I was probably foaming at the mouth by the time the food arrived. Don’t miss the rebollita, a famous Tuscan soup made with vegetables and leftover bread. It’s incredible here.
Find it! Vini e Vecchi Sapori
- Address: Via dei Magazzini 3r
- Phone: +35 055 293045
- Opening Hours: Thursday through Tuesday, Lunch 12:00 to 15:00 (3:00 p.m.), Dinner 19:00 (7:00 p.m.) to 23:15 (11:15 p.m.); Wednesday: Closed.
- Price Range: 8 to 20 euros
Another popular place with the locals, Il Magazzino is famous for it’s tripe dishes, hence Tripperia in the name. Yes, tripe. The quaint little eatery is located in Piazza della Passera. The standout for me here was the traditional lampredotto dish. Lampredotto is a famous Florentine dish made of the fourth stomach of the cow. No meat left behind! Ravioli of lampredotto is served with a spicy tomato sauce and pairs perfectly with a robust Sangiovese. Don’t let the thought of it scare you. It’s good. And, if you are into traditional, it doesn’t get much better than this. Just remember, it’s a filling dish.
Find it! Osteria Tripperia Il Magazzino
- Adress: Piazza della Passera
- Phone: +39 055 215 969
- Opening Hours: Daily, 19:00 (7:00 p.m.) to 23:00 (11:00 p.m.)
- Price Range: 20 to 40 euros
So, that about covers the dining portion of my adventures in Florence. I’m planning a quick visit in May and am hoping to add at least a couple new restaurants in Florence to this guide. If you have suggestion, please leave a comment! And, thanks again to the lovely gals from Florence. Eat, drink, and be merry! Cin cin!
Song Pick! The Dave Matthews Band, Tripping Billies