In 2017, Eater approached me and ask if I wanted to give Florence a space in their Essential Restaurant list round-ups and every year or so after I am tasked with updating this guide. It was due for an update in 2020 but for obvious reasons that task had to go on the back burner.
Now that some parts of the world are privileged enough to resume leisure activities and dining in, it was time to dust off this doc.
If you’d like to cut to the chase, go ahead and hit up the guide on Eater. To understand more of the process, food for thought and some additional “off-menu” dining tips, continue reading.
Personally I felt perplexed to craft such an update. ALL restaurants have been hurting and the narrowing down and amplifying a selection, put me in a particular predicament. As well as having to remove listings and replace. If I could, I’d make any restaurant in Florence essential since they could all use the business and amplification. At the same time, I came to a sort of cold detachedness that some curation is needed in a city where there are hundreds of eateries.
After being in Florence during the pre-vaccine times and recently now as the country has set forth vaccine mandates/greenpass allowing restaurants to return to (ab)normal operations- I’ve noticed its become more expensive to eat out in Florence and not all of it is worth its salt. And not for unjust reason- staffing shortages and cost shortcuts (if you had to shutdown every other week, you probably got used to jarred, tinned or frozen cost-saving items) are huge factors.
Sidebar rant: Why do people say “during COVID?!” as if it’s over??? We are still in a pandemic! Also- many countries still are living with it as if pre-vaccine while millions of doses are thrown away here in hoardville America and because humans are literally insane in the membrane. Sidebar over.
On the one hand, I find the whole “you gotta go here because it’s on a list/a famous person once ate here” is overdone and contributes to an unhealthy type of tourism.
At the same time, Eater is a stellar publication (and probably my favorite to write for a plethora of reasons) and was cool to let me insert my tirade about mass tourism and reconsidering that ‘grammable panino to support local restaurants at lunch instead.
And I hope my picks for where to eat in Florence do your appetite justice.
For the criteria and process, I basically thought and pondered:
What would a Florentine do/eat/approve of? But not just any Florentine or local, one who also understands a notable dining experience (just because you see locals in a place doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be good- younger generations are becoming more disconnected from quality food, how to cook, appreciating dining culture, and many lack the agency to be able to afford nicer outings).
If someone was visiting for just a few days- what would they have to make sure to dine at?
If the reader was a frequent visitor. where should they eat at at least once? If a resident- would they eat there or already have?
Which of these places would I happily return to over and over again, and not just be a one-off? Is it accessible? Is it too gimmicky or too new?
How is the quality/price and service ratio? Is it consistent? Is it special? Has it been recommended by every single other food blog and if it has, does it truly belong there, can it still stand out or is it being ruined by list-tickers and the list-makers?
Will listing this but leaving out that result in me getting trolled? This one is a joke- because of course I will no matter what. There is no peace in the streets trolls stroll.
With that said, I hope you appreciate how much effort goes into these guides and updates.
In terms of some off-menu restaurant additions I carrot dangled you all with at the beginning of this entry…These are some spots I ate at recently I hope you consider if you’ve already done the 36 on the Eater list:
Nugolo was exceptional for a modern take on seasonal traditional dishes, like chitarra pasta with their in-house made pomarola from their own garden tomatoes and ricotta salata
Gune’ was a pricey splurge but worth it- service, quality, creativity, wine, and cocktail pairings. Concept here is revisiting the owner’s regional food of Basilicata with Tuscan twists
Vivo has been on the Eater lists before, but since Florence isn’t known as a seafood destination I had to leave the fishy options to a minimal. But Vivo is great for casual fish fare with an importance on sustainability, seasonality and local catches.
I’m extremely biased on this one, but my progressive dinner crawl of Florence (visiting 4 restaurants and eateries) should have made this list as an essential dining experience 😉
Icche c’e’ c’e’ was a super cute spot, some dishes were just alright but overall we had a great time, spent the il giusto plus these pillowy gnocchi in melted butter and crispy sage were fire.
Iyo Iyo does tasty, well-made sushi nigiri and bowls. I question the ethics around the fish they source (i.e. farmed salmon, high demand tuna, etc) but if you want to ignore these considerations once in a great while and get a sushi fix if you’re a long timer in Florence- this hits the spot
Olivia near Pitti Palace specializes in making olive oil a protagonist in all their small plates
Floreal has some gems on the menu to go with their interesting cocktails, and recently got some accolade as being one of the best cocktail bars with proper food (not a huge thing yet in Italy- cocktails used to be with crappy aperitivo buffets or on their own post-dinner)
I’m sure there are more I could have added to both the Eater list and this off-menu dessert extra, but that’s all I have time for now as my bed is beckoning me to sleep in it.
Instead of a stage 5 meltdown, how about e-mail or comment some places I could consider for the next update or to add to this post of curated eating recommendations for Florence
In your caloric indulgent trust,