After all the random articles on the best restaurants in Florence I have scattered around, I thought to compose one whole article dedicated to where to eat in Florence- including street food, coffee shops, gelato joints and links to other guides I have composed in case you’re curious for more. These are my personal picks for the best non-touristy restaurants in Florence which are respected by locals, run by passionate chefs/cooks and are staffed with people dedicated to serving and showcasing consistently delicious, quality food in Florence.
Florence, the capital of Tuscany, is a dichotomy in terms of food and “incredible” is a bit of a mission to find unless you live here and know the lay of the land. Since Tuscany attracts millions of visitors annually, I would say its food and wine sector has become commercial to say the very least- for good reason! If you went out in the countryside to visit a food & wine producer, and weren’t moved by the Medieval castles practically lying around or the sheer beauty of the valleys and villages visible from whatever point you were perched upon swirling wine and snacking on charcuterie boards, I would suspect part of you is dead inside.
We can thank famous wines from Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, sheep’s milk pecorino from Pienza and Dario Cecchini for the international recognition of Tuscan food & wine. While I love Tuscany, I personally believe die-hard food and wine lovers should also flock to regions like Piedmont, Campania and the Emilia-Romagna. Just saying, man.
Indeed there are fascinating tiny wine regions that are virtually unheard of around Tuscany (i. Montescudaio, Montecarlo, etc) and under-the-radar food meccas like the Lunigiana (a northern mountain-culture zone of Tuscany which borders Liguria and the Emilia-Romagna- pesto, chestnut and fresh pasta lovers- rejoice!) I personally find Florentine cuisine, the hardcore specialties & delicacies, extremely fascinating and riddled with history.
All things considered, discerning food loving travelers deserve to know where to eat in Florence. And should be directed to where to drink, too.
If you are a first time reader of my blog, head over to the “about page.” If you are a regular, thank you for trusting me with such a responsibility! I hate when I waste a meal on bad or mediocre food. I loose sleep over it. I shake my fists at the dining gods and curse them to the ends of cheese rinds for allowing me to experience such travesty. I curl up in the fetal position and weep. Okay, maybe that part was a bit dramatic (and over the top quirky)- but you get me right?!
While I will not accept and never agree to a free meal in exchange for a write up or a recommendation, if I have attended an opening, event or was comp’ed a meal for any reason- I’ll still only recommend it if I sincerely thought it was good and I would return to.
That being said, here is my curated guide to restaurants and food in Florence, along with drink, bakery and links to my food & drink guides to Florence around the web.
Where to get good pastries and coffee, i.e. a quality Italian breakfast
Unfortunately, both fantastic baked goods and coffee are not synonymous in Florence, or around Italy for that matter. These are my picks for places who do both coffee and sweets well: Pasticceria Nencioni in Sant’Ambrogio is a vintage family-run institution best for classic Florentine breakfast baked goods and desserts (must-have here are the budino di riso and sfoglia filled with ricotta, pear and chocolate). Patrizio Cosi is one of those old-school pastry shops which bake up regional sweets from all over Italy with a decent handle on coffee, all goods baked on-site. Dolce e Dolcezze in Piazza Beccaria could have been the best bar in Florence but it’s really tiny and at times the coffee is hit or miss. They have the incredibly high quality pastries, cakes and finger sandwiches and in theory could do incredible coffee because they source from a local craft roaster. The problem lies in how the espresso is pulled and milk steamed- sometimes the staff know what they are doing other times not. But go for the sweets. Just go. Caffe Cibreo in Sant’Ambrogio makes nice pastries too, you can pick some up from the new C.Bio market just around the corner. My preferences are for their custard cream budino, cheesecake, cornetti, I mean any sweet they make is beyond delightful. Caffe Cibreo is great for tea and coffee and the theater seating is cute, Gilda’s in Sant’Ambrogio for eccentric yet traditional decor and dainty quality baked goods (must-have is when they make pastries with summer fruits like apricots and peaches). La Loggia degli Albizi (both locations, Via Pietrapiana and Borgo Degli Albizi) does bold coffee and some Southern Italian-like pastries well, one of the owners is from Naples which guarantees (in theory) coffee quality. This is more of a totally Italian coffee bar which doesn’t have totally garbage dolci options. The coffee served at most places don’t follow the 3rd wave cult, is usually burnt and from mass-produced roasted coffee. However, these old-fashioned bars are more representative of Italian coffee culture. If you’re after quality best to stick to Chiaroscuro, Cafe Piansa, Ditta Artigianale, Coffee Mantra in Sant’Ambrogio and Dolce e Dolcezze
Other places with decent coffee and tasty traditional breakfast pastries: Rivoire in Piazza della Signoria, Caffe Gilli in Piazza della Repubblica and Serafini on Via Gioberti,
Where to find Coffee in Florence,
Tuscan Baked Goods and Bakeries in Florence
Ditta Artigianale Opens in the Oltrarno
Gilda’s Bistro is my Favorite
Snack bars/Street food in between meals
Semel for hot Tuscan street-food panini (fillings range from truffle and pear, donkey stew to cod and porcini), Panificio Brunori for their oily tiny schiacciata breads topped with artichokes, sausage, spinach & ricotta, etc. Procacci for tiny truffle panini and an array of wines to pair (I prefer prosecco or franciacorta, personally), Fiaschetteria Nuvoli for the rustic decor, crostini (gotta have the raw sausage and chicken liver pate ones) and tasty mini-truffle panini with quality glasses of wine to throw back, La Casa del Vino for some of the best crostini toscani (chicken liver pate) in town, Of course Le Volpi e l’Uva for their decadent crostini and unique (natural, passionate producer-centric) wines, my favorite is the truffle sausage and melted cheese, as well as their mini- cured duck breast & butter panini.
For Lampredotto/Food Carts: L’Trippaio di Firenze in Piazza Beccaria, I Pollini in Via de’ Macci, la Tripperia delle Cure in Piazza delle Cure, the Lampredotto stand “Lampredottore” across the street from Careggi hospital (this one is for locals who may have to go to Careggi for either a visit or work), Il Trippaio di San Frediano (they do cheap plates of pasta in case you are traveling with a non-offal/tripe eater)
Alternative Guide to the Best Panini in Florence
Best Street Food in Florence: Semel
Eating Lampredotto in Florence
Traditional Cuisine/Cucina Toscana/Cucina Fiorentina
Trattoria Sergio Gozzi near Mercato Centrale open only for lunch has simple, affordable classics like Pappardelle pasta, Ribollita (bread, veg and bean soup) and peppered beef Peposo stew (i.e. Gozzi is prime for primi and meat stew things) Trattoria Mario (also lunch-only) if you want to experience a high energy crowded place with affordable steak (warning: you won’t be the only traveler there but Florentines do love this place), Trattoria Cibreo to experience unpolluted Florentine and Tuscan cuisine (warning: no pasta and extremely weird food if you are not a local, nearly a local, a transplant or a die-hard culinarian) and obscure regional originals, Trattoria Enzo e Piero near Mercato Centrale for simple local cuisine with an emphasis on ingredient sourcing, i’Raddi for a blue-collar dirt cheap eatery hidden away in Santo Spirito, La Cucina del Ghianda in Santa Croce for lunch and a worker’s lunch spot, cafeteria style in the sense you pick from the menu on the wall and order up front, or order from the glass case but trattoria quality. Trattoria Sabatino to experience a historical, institutional trattoria full of locals and a menu with insanely low prices (4-5 euros for primi, 5-8 for mains). My advice about the primi is to avoid the tortellini, and opt for the spaghetti. Tortellini are done better in Bologna. Period! Unless an eatery is making the tortellini pasta sheets and filling in house (Sabatino’s for example does not) then they are pre-made from a local pasta factory and the quality is of industrial level- i.e. mediocre. Why waste your calories on mediocre industrial quality tortellini?
Interview with Art Escape Italy on my top eats & drinks in Florence
Best Restaurants in Florence for Art Trav
An Alternative Guide to the “best” restaurants in Florence
Osteria-style Tuscan eateries
Osteria de’ Pazzi for a super fun experience if the jolly santa claus like man is around plus they have tasty pastas and creative versions of tagliata (sirloin steak). Open on Sundays! Club Culinario da Osvaldo for true and honest Tuscan food but in a more attractive setting, ideal for dates, they have some of the best materie prime (raw ingredients) in the whole city. My favorites here are their charcuterie plates, rabbit, tortelli of potatoes in goat ragu’ and pretty much everything else. Their fried shredded meat croquettes (bollito fritto) make me want to never be on a diet. Vini e Vecchi Sapori near Piazza della Signoria, this place rocks for service and soul. Notables are pappardelle in duck ragu’, peposo (peppered chunky beef stew cooked in wine) ribollita and pretty much everything else on their small, hand-written menu but the whole world knows it so it is extremely difficult to get a table. I forgive them, they are darling. Il Magazzino for that traditional trattoria vibe but interesting food both classic and creative. They have some of the best Pici All’Aglione (thick spaghetti tossed in tomato and garlic) and they do creative restuarant things with lampredotto i.e. ravioli stuffed with lampredotto topped in a tropea onion sauce or tempura sushi with (cooked) lampredotto.
5 Best: Where to eat Traditional Tuscan in Florence
Il Magazzino Putting the Guts Back into the Red Light District (Vice Munchies)
Trattoria Mario in San Lorenzo, Florence Italy
Better Ask a Chef: Damiano of Club Culinario
High quality, time-capsule trattoria/ristorante (white table cloth digs)
Ristorante Fagioli near Santa Croce, one of my favorite places for La Bistecca Fiorentina and I can’t get enough of their flatbeans cooked in tomato or their penne strascicate (penne pasta dragged in meat sauce) Buca del Orafo off Ponte Vecchio again for the hardcore Florentine culinarian in us all. I love their polpette, pastas, gnudi, sliced and grilled meats, soups, EVERYTHING! The service needs an attitude adjustment, but I too would probably not be the most chipper if I had to run a tiny restaurant underground. Trattoria Cammillo in Santo Spirito is one of those institutional places with a long menu but they somehow do it well. They have exceptional, quality regional food. My picks here have been their vegetable based appetizers, their fried artichokes the best because there is a light batter and more fresh artichoke heart ratio, their ribollita is officially my favorite in the center and grilled red meat is not shabby. Acquacotta for the peasant dish, Acquacotta- a seasonal vegetable soup from Tuscany’s Maremma with an egg cracked in and stale bread. Sounds weird but I swear it’s good! They source their beef from Luca Menoni, an earnest butcher (the stand you can find at Mercato Sant’Ambrogio) who honestly sources local heritage meats of extreme quality. Ristorante Cibreo, for hardcore purist Tuscan cuisine enthusiasts for a more higher-level dining experience in terms of menu, ambiance and service with a more ample selection of wines in respect to the trattoria (and the prices reflect that).
Bistro-quality dining in Florence (not limited to Tuscan offerings)
Gilda’s in Sant’Ambrogio is like you’re having lunch at your aunt’s house. I like their chianina beef tartare and simple pastas and soups. The service is on point as well as quirky, vintage market decor. Zeb in San Niccolo for decadent filled pastas, tortelli and capellacci- which are like a big pillowy tortellino or raviolo and here they do a variety done deliciously. A must-have is the capellaci they shave fresh truffles and stuff with truffle specked ricotta. They are named Zeb as a cross between Zuppa (soups) and Bollito (boiled meats) but come for the gourmet tavola calda offerings and natural wine selection. Burro e Acciughe for delicate and flavorful seafood dishes, my favorite being their pistachio, anchovy and wild fennel spaghetti. Libreria Brac for gourmet quality vegetarian and vegan food in a totally hipster bookstore vibe, wines are natural and good too. Coquinarius for cozy wine bistro experience, gourmet pasta (i.e. burrata ravioli with pistachio pesto!), fabulous salads, cured meat & cheese platters and ace location just a rock throw from the Duomo. Ara e’ Sud for modern, refined Sicilian cuisine rich in tasty seafood with regional context. Plus their Sicilian wine list is incredible!
Where to find the best pasta in Florence (Vogue)
New Fish Spot Openings in Florence
Restaurants in Florence: Top Picks in 2015
Creative “modern” picks when you’re tired of the trattoria culture
Il Santo Bevitore for classy Italian eating (refined versions of risotto, sliced grilled meats, desserts, etc) with a sort of big city chic energy, dim candle lighting and respectable wine list. Konnubio in San Lorenzo is a chef-centric restaurant with led by Beatrice Segoni. Service is top notch and a chic spot for creative, quality gourmet plates. Think little gnocchi with confit tomatoes and burrata foam. Io Osteria Personale for revisited and refined Italian food with tasting menus. Il Locale for spot-on refined, elevated dining in a snazzy, restored Medici palace. Locale has managed to combine atmosphere, style and quality in one. Essenziale for wanna-be molecular cuisine enthusiasts that isn’t too out there but dishes of extreme creativity, tastiness, flavor balance, fab wins to match and stellar service. Ristorante Ora di Aria for affordable Michelin-star dining by Marco Stabile.
Relevant dining articles:
L’Ora di Aria in Florence, Italy
A dining guide to Florence’s Bohemian Borgo San Frediano (Vogue)
The Hottest Restaurants in Florence Right Now (2017, Eater.com)
Where the Best Hotel Dining is in Florence (Vogue)
Unique Dining Experiences in Florence, Italy
Ristorante Tehran is a sure bet for fragrant Persian food (think succulent kebabs, saffron rice and eggplant stews) done traditionally well and a rock throw away from Piazza della Signoria. Banki Ramen by the station for hole-in-the-wall ramen that reminds me of the Japanese joints back in Seattle. I prefer the broth at Banki than Koto Ramen but Koto definitely does its best for everything else (freshly made ramen noodles, etc), the space is larger/better located and closer to authenticity than most attempts at Ramen in Italy. Fabio Picchi’s Cibleo is a fusion of China, Korean and Tuscany with a fixed menu of small bites including the best dumplings you’d find in Florence. The meal is a culinary spectacle with small tastes in progressions (agretti with mussels and citrus, dumplings, tofu, etc) with a focus on high quality raw ingredients, i.e. the best soy sauce, ginger, locally sourced meats, fish sauce, etc. Iyo Iyo for sushi on Borgo Pinti for the only sushi worth having in town, if you insist on having sushi in Florence everywhere else is garbage and has gross fish with poorly made rice. There’s Al Noor an Indian take-out place on Borgo La Croce near Sant’Ambrogio that is pretty greasy but edible when you’re in a desperate bind for Indian food.
My latest new restaurant picks for Eater includes a plethora of choice international eateries from Vietnamese, Georgian and Armenian: The 10 Hottest New Restaurants in Florence (new openings from 2018)
For Aperitivo, Cocktails, Wine Bars- better to consult these articles because I have composed several guides!
Aperitivo in Florence- A quick round-up
A neighborhood guide to Aperitivo in Florence (including wine bars!)
Finding Craft Cocktails in Florence (2016)
Top 10 guide to Cocktails in Florence, Italy (Eater)
Where to get Pizza in Florence
My top favorites are: La Divina Pizza for Roman-style “Pizza al taglio”: naturally fermented dough, stone ground flour, seasonal, creative toppings like burrata, spicy salami and plump olives. Personally prefer La Divina Pizza to Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium in Rome. Then for take-away Neapolitan pizza or eating pizza in a hole-in-the-wall with bare-bones settings, hit up O’Scugnizzo on Via del’Orto. my next 2 are Berbere on San Frediano for new-wave pizza using ancient grains and sharing sliced pies (Italian craft beer, too!) There are other valid options for pizza if you’re in a bind (like Pizzeria Torcicoda near Santa Croce for more gourmet-style and Italian craft beer and Pizzaiuolo on Via de’ Macci purely for the experience), but these are my favorite spots.
For gelato- off the bat my favorite places are Perche No’ because of their pistachio and summertime granite, Il Procopio for anything they do with Pistachio and the inventive flavors and quality of milk they source and Carabe’ or Ara e’ Sicilia near the Academia for a taste of Sicilian gelato. Gelateria de’ Neri because it is a classic, they do salted caramel and a ricotta & pistachio cremino I usually want to marry the owner over. Vivoli for a scoop of Florentine gelato history, classic old-fashioned flavors and some of the best fruit sorbets in town. There are plenty more gelato shops I love, rest assured! For new generations of locals doing gelato finely and offering seasonal specials, head to My Sugar in San Lorenzo.
Just visit these relevant articles (albeit published many gelatos ago)
Where to get Gelato in Florence
My Top 5 for Gelato in Florence
Handy google map of everywhere I just named! Please call in advance to make sure they are open, have tables available as these places book up quick. Some have booking software on their websites!
Also, did you know Curious Appetite offers Progressive Dining Crawls of Florence? This “movable feast” is a great way to try several eateries in one night while zoning in on specialties and hanging with awesome people.
In your Florence food trust,
Like that? Be sure to follow along on Instagram (and all the social medias like facebook) and share your feedback on my food recommendations by commenting below! Buon appetito!