May I confess something to you? I love all things that are baked. I think baked goods are an expression of love- so much works goes into making the stuff and it creates so much joy as a result. I go crazy when I find either a shop full of owners with passion and love to make delicious food for good pricing.That being said- I will move on to the list: Where to get solid panini in Florence.
1. Panificio Brunori Borgo Pinti, 16R.
I’m in love. I am without words. This little bakery doesn’t even have a name outside and inside churns out some of the softest, buttery, oily and flavorful salty savor rich tarts with an endless selection of fillings. Sweet teeth are are happy here with luscious, pillowy layers of brioche pastry with the perfect hint of sugar and chocolate. The panini. Oh dear Houston…we’ve hit the motherload. Massive…MASSIVE panini stuffed with real food. Natural, fresh baked bread made on site to cradle these flavor trucks…for just some pocket change. I’ve scoped this place out a couple times before deciding to write about it. Recently while meditating in a juicy sausage topped oily carb-rich mini-tart “schiacciatina”, I interrupted my practice only momentarily to exclaim “By god! How do you all manage to make such good stuff?” And their answer was “There isn’t any other way!”
Please go. Like now. I want everyone to experience these bites of heaven.
2. Lo Schiacciavino. Via Verdi 6R
Once a literal hole in the wall, abandoned with all hope and full of rubble is now a true home to some hand stacked stellar squashed “schiacciata” foccaccia panini. This is a panino shack. I love this place, and after talking to one of the owners- now more than ever. The owners (who are young!) were originally assigned the task to restructure the space as it was in dire need, and after working on it for so long, like a surrogate mother unwilling to give up her new creation, they fell in love with the space and wanted to make it home to their panini shop vision. I was so curious given the fact they also had many wines, from good producers to pick from. I asked if they studied food and wine- the answer was no. They have always been driven by passion and a love for food and wine. This passion drives them to taste products, to meet producers and to supply only what they deem the best. He said something profound to me “90% of success is passion. You can have all the titles in the world, but if you’re lacking passion- you can only go so far.” This is to everyone out there who feels intimidated by food and wine or believes they are the top authority on it. All you really need is passion and a curious palate. Yes, formal coursework is good but it is not the end all, be all of your license to expertise.
Another thing that struck me here, is that they source their wine from a local friend- just to support his wine production. They told me they don’t make much selling their private label wine, but its more to support a local wine maker. They know their producers. And to top it off, they make a mean panini. And where do they get their bread? None other than the Florentine adored: Pugi.
3. And for the love of it: Semel. Please don’t leave Florence unless you’ve been to Semel in Sant’Ambrogio. Anytime I need a pick-me-up, the Uncle Marco and Nephew team say something hilarious and feed me something unique. They make these panini fillings based off of Tuscan cuisine- slow cooked beef stracotto, roasted pork and broccoli, spinach stewed chicken straccetti and pomegranates, even duck ragu’ pasta- and then stuff them into bread rolls.
4. Focaccine Bondi- Located in the tourist-central of Florence, is a true diamond in the eatery rough. In all fairness, San Lorenzo is cleaning up it’s act and quality purveyors are competing head to head with the dumpy traps to their left. Bondi is not new to the San Lorenzo rodeo and for decades has served up hearty, stuffed foccaccia for under 4 euros. Similar to Semel but not as quaint in style, at Bondi you pick a filling for your layers. My favorite filling is the seppie in zimino which are calamari stewed in dark leafy greens like beet greens and chard, usually with a touch of chili pepper. Address: Via dell’Ariento, 85, Florence (San Lorenzo)
Every recommendation I have listed can also be considered for the sophisticated cheap eats scavengers out there.
In your love of a good carb load,
The Curious Appetite
Want to taste places like this and more on a food tour in Florence? Contact me!