I love providing advice to others for where to eat in Florence but when it comes to me finding a place to eat for myself and friends, the whole process can feel agonizing. This process amplified when it’s a Sunday in Florence. But after asking my brain to work, I found Trattoria Cesarino. I hope you too visit if ever in a bind regarding where to eat in Florence on Sundays.
It’s as if my head becomes a rolodex search engine and various filters are imposed such as: what kind of food does everyone want, do we want to try somewhere new, what kind of ambiance would be best, is there a visitor in the group, how much do they appreciate good food, do they have dish wishes, what day of the week and so on. After living in Florence for 6 years, you start to get a little more selective on where to spend your calories and meals at!
A sister of one of my sweetest friends in Florence came into town from Milan and wanted to have a bistecca on Sunday, and this is one of the filters which made me use my brain more than usual. If a guest is in town I want them to have the best meal ever and I put a lot of pressure on myself to suggest the perfect place.
My friend Antonia who lives here, is a sommelier and works in the wine industry with a pretty poignant palate. Antonia and her sister not only know & love food, but are 1st generation Italian-Americans who have both lived in Italy for some time and know their stuff. So even more pressure on for finding the perfect spot!
May I mention finding a steak in Florence on a Sunday is not easy, it turns out! Or at least finding a good one where they give 2 thoughts where the meat is sourced, stored, aged and where the cooks/kitchen staff actually know what they’re doing with the meat after it’s been grilled. So many places f*** up a steak by not letting it rest after the grill blast. Yo cooks: DON’T SLICE A STEAK IMMEDIATELY AFTER IT’S OFF THE GRILL!
Since a visitor was in town, a new, modern restaurant was out of the question. Super cheap trattorias aren’t really my thing for la bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak) and most other spots we had already been (Club Culinario we love you) or already booked (Ruggero, you broke our hearts) or were just OK (I.e .like Brindellone, which I don’t think is all too great in terms of food quality, but the ambiance is cute).
There are indeed restaurants in Florence open on Sunday, but I personally can’t think of many who do a worthy steak while offering that soulful Florentine trattoria vibe, which makes Florence a special place to dine for a log, lingering weekend lunch.
But then a lightbulb hit and I remembered this little Trattoria in Sant’Ambrogio which I pass by all the time and went to just once a few years ago: Trattoria Cesarino. I even wrote a review but refused to give out the name. Alas, that was 4 years ago. Now since having adopted a slight subtle art of not giving a f*** combined with the way social media has taken over, a good restaurant can’t (nor shouldn’t) stay secret for long.
The irony was a week before, I had composed a guide on Curious Appetite’s travel & tour website on where to eat in Florence on Sundays and Mondays– and still I was scratching my head to find a restaurant. Here’s the guide here if you want to bookmark it!
It was the perfect decision, not because it was a place Antonia had not yet been plus it was a trattoria with a strong Florentine identity, perfect for an out of towner from Milan who wanted a bistecca alla fiorentina experience.
While a lot of my food recommendations are based on subjective tastes, I always have people like you in mind when I craft guides. I’m assuming if you read my blog, you give at least a slight damn about food but perhaps not a local. Or maybe you’re a local looking for a blog or article to help you decide where to eat for a certain occassion.
Trattoria Cesarino in Sant’Ambrogio is Sunday feast worthy for a few reasons.
A. They offer a couple type of steaks, one from the Chianina variety and another a Swiss breed Simmental, we opted for Chianina. It was succulent, tender, raw and charred to perfection.
B. They utilize seasonal ingredients for appetizers like artichokes. We had some pretty tasty starters like fried artichokes (some of the best I have EVER had in Florence- which is harder to find than you think) and an appetizer of fresh shaved artichoke atop thinly sliced lonzino (cured pork loin). The artichokes were extremely fresh and batter came out crispy and not mealy, which I find in Florence sometimes.
C. THEY PUT TRUFFLES ON THINGS. I don’t even care if the ravioli’s pasta dough could have been better- truffles fix everything:)
D. They have an acceptable handle on fresh pasta offerings such as pappardelle al sugo del cinghiale (wild boar ragu’) ravioli with ricotta and shaved black truffle, and currently pici with bottarga (roe) and artichokes. My personal suggestion is unless you are obsessed with truffles, leave the ravioli behind. The pici and pappardelle are winners in my carb book.
E. but not lastly, their wine selection is interestingly unique! We had a Syrah by Renieri from the Montalcino zone, which wasn’t the best pair for the truffle pasta but nice for the steak. Since we were in 3, we have to make a one bottle kind of decision. So often the wine lists at trattorias are mediocre and dominated by big name industrial producers.
Bear in mind a Trattoria is usually a place where simple food and house wine are typically consumed, but there are different classes of Trattoria. At least in Florence, Trattorias aren’t always associated with blue collar prices & simple food. There are those in which who care about the quality procured but aren’t a white table cloth “ristorante.” Cesarino seems somewhere in between a simple trattoria and a finer ristorante, as there is a touch of fancy in the plates (like truffles and bottarga) but staples like rustic bowls of minestrone and greens served. The bill was still extremely fair, less than what you’d pay at a restaurant while also maintaining friendly, casual service.
In sum, Trattoria Cesarino is a delicious, kind-to-the-wallet choice for a meat & potatoes kind of meal in the heart of Sant’Ambrogio. And while I suggested this for Sunday and Monday when most other restaurants in Florence are closed, any day of the week (minus Tuesday when they are closed) would be a spot choice. Who doesn’t love a place who procures affordable dishes for the truffle obsessed? Although I wonder (not really should) about the quality of the truffles in restaurants when a dish is less than 15eu
They are also open on Mondays for dinner (not lunch) so this is another location I added to my Sunday and Monday Florence dining guide.
Details: Trattoria Cesarino Address: VIA GIOVAN BATTISTA NICCOLINI 16 Phone: +39 055 247 9169 Website: http://www.trattoriacesarino.it/en Online booking available via The Fork
Have you been to Cesarino? I’d love to know your impressions in the comment section!
In your Sunday feast trust,