Last year, I wrote a list on Florence’s new openings for Eater.com and to be honest- selecting a respectable list of 10 had its challenges. However, this year is looking like it’ll be a cinch thanks to some venues which break the traditional Tuscan mold. Moreover, there seems to be a trend (or perhaps demand) for seafood restaurants in Florence.
Hopefully, I’ll be doing a proper round-up of openings for 2016. For now, and since it’s still summer for at least another month, I wanted to share a few of my favorites. It seems that fish is a big theme. On the one hand, I am pleased because traditional Tuscan/Florentine cuisine is so heavy (beef stew, hunter meat, fried breads, fried things in general) on the other hand I am somewhat curious as to how these venues source their fish. Is it sustainably-sourced fish? Local? I often wonder if people realize that the stocks of fish in the Mediterranean and Adriatic are dwindling. Here is an article in English, regarding dwindling fish stocks in the Mediterranean. For you polyglots out there, I recommend sitting down and watching Michele Santoro’s last episode of Annozero, L’assassinio del mare, which spoke about the economic crisis of the fishing sector in Italy in part due to lower fish stocks.
I hope that if you love food, that these realities cross your “conscious of consumption.” I’m not one to impose or suggest you change anything, but my hope that as a food-specific blogger, I am able to remind my readers that there are 2 sides to every dish.
That being said, I still love fish but take to my fork with a conscious palate.
My absolute favorite new fish spot in Florence is Burro e Acciughe on Via dell’Orto, 35 (near Piazza Tasso)
Located on Via del’Orto in the deep Oltrarno, this new bistro has a great entrance (i.e. lots of natural light), selection, wines and service. Most of the tables are in the back, and quite honestly I wasn’t too thrilled with the walls/space for some reason. But it’s a cozy space with fantastic food. I highly suggest the fried anchovies which has a heavenly batter and a few fried sage leaves thrown in. All the pastas rock, especially this one pictured.
This tagliolini (small strand fresh pasta) with swordfish and pistachio pesto kind of changed my life while I was eating it. Their ricciola (amberjack) is now my new favorite food group (can one food be a food group?) and Burro e Acciughe kill it. Literally. No pun intended. Okay, moving on…
Ristorante Vivo- Largo Pietro Annigoni, 9 (near the Sant’Ambrogio Market, in the same square as Il Nazione)
Talk about wow, and as Helen Ferrell of The Florentine said, “knock your socks off stuff!”- I’d tend to agree. If you are reading this for the first time, my last home was Seattle. if I may say, Seattle is a bastion for fresh fish in America (of course among a few others). One of the things I miss the most from Seattle are oysters and fresh fish. Vivo, out all the fish places I’ve been to, has been the only one to take me back to food memories of slippery sea salty sweet umami laden oysters. They source their fish from the Southern Tuscan area of the Maremma and oysters from Normandy, France. The ambiance was a bit lacking and felt like a cafeteria, and the background noise was like being in an indoor racquetball court. However, I’d definitely go back and encourage others to do so. Personally, food quality is more important than ambiance which is why Vivo swooned me over in the end.
Fishing Lab on Via del Proconsolo, 16r (near Piazza della Signoria)
When I first went to Fishing Lab, I hated it. I swore and written it off. I gave it another go because friends kept insisting we had just went in on a bad night and I’m glad I did. Fishing Lab does make up for ambiance where Vivo and Burro e Acciughe lack. However, the quality is definitely at the other 2. Fishing Lab is best for their “street food” menu like this of fried anchovies (delicious), mini tuna burger sliders, small crudi/raw sashimi–style fish (although I much prefer the crudi at Burro e Acciughe) and acceptable pours of wine that won’t break the bank. Many glasses range from 2.5-4eu! I honestly would come here for casual snacks and sips with a girlfriend or dinner with friends upstairs since there are beautiful frescoes that line the walls. But I wouldn’t come here to get my mind blown for great food quality.
There you have it! Are there any on this list you’ve already been too? Let me know!
In your quest for fish,
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