Being back in Seattle, I realize how big this city is after living in teeny tiny Florence, where I could walk from one end of the city (Santa Croce) to the other (Oltrarno, Santo Spirito) in about 20 minutes. However as tiny as Florence is, about 5 areas/neighborhoods come immediately to mind when looking for consistently good food in Florence. While I have endless places to eat in my massive food memory banks, I’ve narrowed it down to a few. Here are my instinctive opinions on where to eat in Florence:
1. Sant’Ambrogio. Commonly lumped in with Santa Croce, it is one of the best if not best neighborhoods in Florence. You can generally bank on a place not sucking if you wonder around the streets of this area. Places of note are: Gilda’s, Vivo for fresh seafood, La Ghiotta for simple “tavola calda” style eats, Cibreo (the tiny trattoria next door is less costly than the restaurant) and La Divina Pizza. And since I mentioned Santa Croce, I’ll give you my 2 favorite picks in that area: Ristorante Fagioli and Club Culinario da Osvaldo.
2. Oltrarno. On the other side of the river, ya know where Santo Spirito is. The Oltrarno is what everyone coins as the Brooklyn of Florence. I kind of despise that term and standard. Florence was here 1st so isn’t Brooklyn the Florence of New York City? Anyways. Basically lots of style chasers and beautiful people hang out here. More notably, people who want to escape the herds of tourists. And people with distinct tastes. Places of note are: Vivanda Gastronomia, Trattoria Giovanni, Trattoria dell’Orto and i’Raddi. Looking for Gustapizza and Casalinga? I think Gustapizza is for tourists, students and has become a mere attraction, the same for Casalinga.
3. Santa Maria Novella. Yes, good eating near the train station- yes you can! But be careful! There are some of the best mom and pop trattoria’s in this area but also some of the dumpiest tourist traps. Places of note are: Trattoria da Giorgio for dirt cheap eats, Banki Ramen for a hole-in-the-wall ethnic food fix and Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi for large groups who want that kitschy Florentine experience but with decent food.
4. San Frediano. Take a jaunt down past Santo Spirito on Borgo San Frediano to eat in one of the cutest residential areas of Florence while being just outside the historical center. This is really the place to escape the herds. This is probably my favorite next to Sant’Ambrogio for eating in Florence. During the day, there is an amazing food truck/stand I recall as being sublime for all things offal named: L’Trippaio di San Frediano. This food stand is also amazing because they have an array of first courses for lunch like pasta dishes with boar meat and potato ravioli. Other places of note: Sabatino for dirt cheap eats and Io Osteria Personale for tasting menu modern.
5. San Lorenzo. I think this is a bashed neighborhood. Yes, it is touristic but for good reason! It is the epicenter of Florence’s food history with the central market and still has some serious Florentine soul. Yes, it is now filled with a bunch of tourist crap and overpriced leather selling bozos, but you can’t let that interfere with you experiencing San Lorenzo and its food. Places of note are: Trattoria Mario (only open for lunch! Always a goodie!), lunch at Nerbone in the Central Market for comfort Tuscan food, Casa del Vino for a good wine/snack bar and Focaccine Bondi for one of the best, cheap hole-in-the-wall panini experiences of your life.
Been to any of my haunts or have one of your own? Leave a comment below and share your experience!
In food hunting,
Want to discover more eateries, wine bars and street food with me? Let me know when you’re in Florence!