Make Sure To Try These Restaurants When You Visit Florence, Italy
If there is one place that I keep going back to in Europe, it would be Italy.
Florence in particular captured my heart the first time I visited, and I’ve been consistently visiting ever since. Why? The food, and the shopping, of course!
Florence is not really a big place. The best way to get around is on foot, or perhaps on a bike if you’re brave. But within this little city and its cobble-stoned streets are tons of great restaurants, bars, shops, and sights. Despite coming back relatively often, I manage to find new restaurants to try each time I go. This summer’s trip wasn’t any different. Below are some of the highlight meals I indulged in this past June.
So what are the must eats in lovely little Firenze? Definitely the bistecca alla fiorentina of course – otherwise known as the Florentine steak. It’s basically a thick T-bone steak grilled to perfection, simply flavored with salt so that you can savor the taste of the meat. Drizzle a little olive oil on it, maybe sprinkle a little more coarse sea salt, and you’re golden. Personally, the best place for bistecca alla fiorentina for me is Il Latini, an old family run restaurant that serves traditional Tuscan food. The best way to have a meal at Il Latini is to do it family style. Share a kilo of steak, maybe some ravioli, fried zucchini flowers, and a bottle of wine, and you’re all set. I guarantee you’ll walk out of there with a great big smile. Of course, this was our first meal as soon as we got into the city.
fried zucchini flowers
Another favorite joint we frequent is this little delicatessen on Via de Tornabuoni called Procacci. They serve the best little paninis that are perfect for a light meal or for merienda. Grab a glass of prosecco, around 3 (or if you’re matakaw like me, maybe 6) paninis, and perch on one of their bar stools and happily munch away. My favorites are their panini tartufata, panini burro e acciughe, and the decadent truffle and foie gras panini. They also have a yummy panini with brie and caramelized onions. If you’re not careful, you can run up a crazy tab just trying their delicious paninis and sipping on their prosecco. We had merienda here in between shopping on one of the days our dinner reservation was so late, and it definitely hit the spot.
A visit to Florence is never complete without stopping at Trattoria Sostanza for their famous butter chicken – or as my friends and I call it, their butter with a side of chicken. This dish is the absolute best chicken dish I’ve ever had in my life! If I only had enough days, I would have probably eaten there more than once each visit. The deboned chicken breast is cooked in a literal vat of butter, making it tender, tasty, and juicy. I like to scoop up the extra butter in the pan and douse my chicken even more in the sauce. When I’m out of chicken, I dip my bread in the sauce too! Aside from the butter chicken, we typically order a 500g bistecca, some noodles with butter, and their artichoke omelette to complete the meal, washed down with a bottle of their house red. We decided to do lunch here this last time as it is typically easier to make reservations, and is less crowded. Also, we could walk (or shop) off all the food we ate after lunch!
Trattoria Sostanza's butter chicken
Before leaving this summer, a friend suggested I try out Osteria delle Tre Panche, since she knew I loved truffles. Off the beaten path, and a ways away from the city center (like we took a cab kind of far), you’ll find this tiny osteria that specializes in truffles. Its name literally means three benches, and that’s what you’ll find in the restaurant – three bench-seating tables that you can squeeze into. Best to make a reservation since the place is small. When I say everything is truffled out at the restaurant, I mean literally everything. We chose to go with familiar dishes drowned in freshly shaved truffle – risotto, and tagliatelle. For our mains, we all had tagliata di manzo, or slices of grilled beef; my dad and I got the typical arugula covered ones drizzled with olive oil, whereas my mom decided she didn’t have enough truffles yet so her tagliata was covered in white truffle. They also had fresh porcini mushroom available, so we tried that. It was my first time to have porcini mushrooms battered and fried, and I have to say that I absolutely loved the dish. As with most of my meals in Italy, I washed everything down with a nice glass of wine, that night a somewhat fuller-bodied Chianti that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Rissotto topped with shaved truffle
Tagliata di manzo on a bed of fresh arugula
Tagliata di manzo with truffle
La Beppa Fioraia is a new find this last trip to Florence too. About a 10 to 15 minute walk from Piazzale Michelangelo and nestled in the San Niccolo borough, this osteria is a true Tuscan gem. Although they do have indoor seating, I would say the best seats in the house are those out on the garden. Once out there, you forget you’re in a city as your views are greens all around, and even a turret from someone else’s property. We scheduled lunch out at La Beppa Fioraia, and got a spot at the garden, right under a beautiful tree. It felt like we were on a picnic of sorts, where your food comes out beautifully arranged, and prepared so well.
To start, we ordered the Beppa cheese and cold cuts board, which was laden with prosciutto, salame, and other cold cuts I don’t know the names of, as well ripened pecorino, matured goat cheese, pecorino with chili (that incidentally my dad absolutely loved), spicy gorgonzola, colonnata lard mousse, stracchino (this to die for soft spreadable cheese), liver pate, apricot jam with a hint of chili, and the most amazing bread I’ve ever tasted called coccoli, which is actually fried pizza dough. We shared an anchovy-butter salad, which consisted of chopped greens from the garden, anchovies, burrata, and croutons, as well as their spaghetti with clams, garlic, parsley, and bottarga. We also got two orders of the tagliata – one with rocket and sliced Grana cheese, and another with wild green salad, goat cheese, and wild berries. Everything was delicious and tasty! The atmosphere was relaxed, the food was good, and the bottle of prosecco was a refreshing cap to our picture perfect meal. We ended lunch with their best-seller dessert, the tiramisu, which was served in a flower pot, and topped off with a real flower and leaf, as well as their chocolate cake, which was more like a flourless fudgy brownie topped with berries. Their tiramisu was probably the best I’d tasted throughout my trip, while the chocolate cake was good, but nothing that blew my mind. What made the meal such a great one was that aside from the great ambience and the amazing food, the bill didn’t break the bank. We were so surprised to see how much (or really how little) our bill amounted to with all that food we had plus the bottle of wine. I think La Beppa will be one of those restaurants we’ll definitely be coming back to.
Tagliata with Grana cheese
...wild green salad, goat cheese, and wild berries
tiramisu served in a flower pot—with real flower!
La Beppa's version of chocolate cake
Last January 2018, Gucci decided to dabble in the culinary scene, opening the Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura, with a menu developed by none other than Massimo Bottura, whose restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena had been twice named #1 restaurant in the world (once in 2016, and again just at this year’s awards) and who really hasn’t slipped past the second best in the world in quite some time. Hearing about this opening, I had to book a table for my summer trip. I knew there wasn’t much of a chance for us to head to Modena, so I figured this will at least let me try some of Bottura’s culinary genius. I saved this restaurant for our last night in Florence, as a sort of treat, I guess. So did the osteria live up to the hype? Definitely!
While Gucci Osteria is not your typical Italian restaurant, it definitely served up great tasting, and beautifully presented food. Its menu is an eclectic one, made up of many international dishes that run the gamut from baos to burgers to tortellini. The Asian dishes such as the Thai eggplant and the pork bao were done so well, you’d think you were in Asia. Meanwhile, the typical Italian dishes did not let you forget you were in the heart of Florence. All the dishes were presented on Gucci dinnerware, of course. Their servers were very charming and helpful, particularly Valentina, who helped us make choices from the menu. In fact, she was the one who suggested we try the Thai eggplant dish – which we all agreed was one of our favorites from the meal. The dining room was really pretty as well, done in a gorgeous shade of green with touches of gold, and looked out to the Piazza della Signoria. The dining room adjoined the Gucci Garden gift shop, where you could find a variety of souvenirs for your visit as well.
The one thing I make sure to have every day (or almost every day, anyway) I’m in Italy is gelato. This trip wasn’t any different. While Grom is always a crowd pleaser, and I do have my go to flavors there, my absolute favorite gelato place is Gelateria dei Neri, which is located on Via dei Neri, a street just off of the Ponte Vecchio and the Uffizi Gallery. Their pistachio and ricotta is to die for! It’s like eating cream more than gelato, with how rich it is. Aside from Gelateria dei Neri, a close second is Vivoli – although some would argue that Vivoli is better. I guess people have their preferences.
With all the new restaurant finds we lined, plus the must visit favorites from years past, we ran out of meals and didn’t get to go to our other favorite places such as Parione and Cibreo. But I guess that’s what keeps us coming back to the lovely little gem that is Florence. The old staples never let you down, plus you end up finding so many new favorites that there’s just never enough time. And let’s not forget the shopping that happens between all the eating of course! Whether you head to Florence to shop, to eat, to relax, or to do a combination of all three, a visit to this lovely Tuscan city is definitely good for the soul. I just left, and I can’t wait to go back!
Photographs by Cris Lagdameo