Curious Appetite

Florence

Searching for Florence’s Best Panini (that’s not All’Antico Vinaio)

 

I went to the dark side so I could tell you where to find the light

this post was originally published in 2016 and it gets updated annually, last update July 2024

I’ll say it- there is more to panini in Florence than All’Antico Vinaio. And if you’re wondering why they are extremely famous, consider this failproof recipe: thousands (13K when this post was originally published, now 30K+ in 2024) of tripadvisor reviews mostly since they’ve been listed for ages, larger-than-life panini and cheap wine all for under 5-10€ (in 2016- that is more like 9-15eu in 2024). Plus viral word of mouth recommendations in tandem with short form videos on social media that spread faster than lightning.

The panini at l’Antico Vinaio are at best edible, for some with easy going palates even delicious. For me, AV is not worth to me waiting up to an hour (or even 5 minutes) in line for. Now that the empire has grown- they’ve taken over Via de’ Neri and the original location bears striking resemblance to a Mickey Dee’s with the old wine shelves replaced by digital DIY order kiosks- the wait is less but the sandwich (and the concept of AV) has lost a lot of its original magic.

Hey, at the end of the day the owners are flying 1st class drinking champers en route to opening more shops around the world- can’t help but to be impressed by their entrepreneurial spirit in a country where most have either left, resigned or are still living with their parents.

If anything, I would shake their hands to congratulate them for their success in such a difficult place to run a business and having the world success they now enjoy. However, I am one that believes that 2 (or many) things can be true at the same time.

I still think that sandwich is not worth eating and the bread feels like a loofah to the roof of my mouth and is packed with overly salted industrial quality ingredients (worse than costco) lacking in distinct flavors leaving me thirsty the rest of the day. And the wrappers all around the city because garbage cans are already too full of them are a disgrace.

Bear in mind in reading this post, I’m not here to rag on any particular business, and food is extremely personal, but as a food blogger in Florence for over a decade- I am here from a rather caring place to offer up some alternative suggestions for those who also live to eat.

Since I care about food journalism, I did some research recently (May of 2024) and ordered their “Bada Come la Fuma” (named after their motto I think explains the owner’s ruthless determination) of pancetta, arugula and pecorino and added pistachio pesto, but since this combo already had honey- it tasted like pistachio dessert spread and there was no one to tell me “che schifo” (warning: gross combo!) when I ordered from the humanless robot kiosk.

Now that one can order from a kiosk at AV, the human factor is lacking when making filling decisions. Florence has lost a lot of soul over these last 10+ years I’ve called it home.

My personal tastes goes towards more soulful artisan style eateries, where ingredient sourcing/quality is emphasized. Although I’m not above a good junky pizza from time to time! But I get a lot of questions “is Antico Vinaio really that good?” DEPENDS on your definition of good. In case you would like to find a panino which is a little more unique, here are some alternatives.

If you appreciate this post, consider treating me to a panino via VenMo (which yields more free recs) or booking a curated walking food tour with yours truly, this Historic Food Lover’s crawl in particular visits delis and panino shacks too. No pressure if you can’t swing it- there’s a google map at the end of this post if you just want the names and free tips on my social media channels like Instagram and TikTok.

Continue Reading

Where to eat & drink near Piazzale in San Niccolò (Florence, Italy)

San Niccolò is a sort of micro-neighborhood on the way to the trek to Piazzale Michelangelo, a popular square where you can get a stellar view of the city. Unfortunately, pop tourism has influenced Piazzale Michelangelo to be a sort of Disneyland attraction with bad food carts, painful cover music belting buskers and plastic souvenir vendors. But the view makes up for nearly all of it. But the area offers much more than just this concrete plaza, albeit scenic.

I would implore you to make the extra hike up to San Miniato al Monte and explore the monumental cemetery in the back. Or hang out with a picnic blanket in the rose garden or stroll through the Giardino dell’Iris. Just promise to do more than just Piazzale Michelangelo if you’re in the hood. (And while I have your attention for promises, let’s connect on Instagram for daily updates/tips and subscribe to my newsletter for intel/guides that doesn’t make it on the blog) Continue Reading

How to spot non-touristy restaurants in Florence, Italy

I’m going to say somethings you might not like but when you ask for “non-touristy” restaurants in Florence in an attempt to avoid tourist-traps and to eat where the locals are- do you actually mean that? Also, what is wrong with being a tourist that is literally what you are. 

You do realize you are the very tourist asking where to eat without tourists like yourself? Let’s do some gentle google’ing and put some stats into perspective: Florence has about 350K registered residents and attracts around 10 million visitors per year while measuring about 40 square miles (that’s smaller than San Francisco, to give you scale). The historical center of Florence (where the boogie man tourists tend to congregate) covers roughly about 2 square miles. So knowing this- why do you think you’re so exceptional that you deserve to be the only tourist at a restaurant in a city the size of the national mall that contains millions of others just like you in it? Continue Reading

A Curated Guide to Restaurants & Food in Florence, Italy

Pici con le briciole

If you’re getting overwhelmed by all the listicles on my blog, bookmark and study this page dedicated to where to eat in Florence- including street food, coffee shops, gelato joints and links to other guides within the blog or for publications I have contributed to such as Eater, Vogue and The Guardian. Follow my instagram page for daily doses of Florence’s best food & drink finds, restaurant suggestions, as well as travels around Italy. 

(please note this page was first published in 2017 and is regularly reviewed & updated, last review was January 2024. If there is something missing, please contact me)

These are my personal picks for the worthiest restaurants in Florence respected by locals, tastemakers and run by passionate chefs/cooks/staff dedicated to serving and showcasing consistently delicious, quality food in Florence. Continue Reading

Where to eat in Florence during Christmas & New Year’s (2023)

photo credit: Silvio Palladino
photo credit: Silvio Palladino

Are you looking for where to eat in Florence on Christmas and/or New Year’s? Fear not, traveling food lovers! Curious Appetite did all the dirty work of calling around Florence.

If you are interested in small-group culinary tours Christmas Eve & Day, consider our progressive dining crawl! Tickets sell out quick, book your spot asap.

And on New Year’s Eve we will be doing a special Aperitivo Food & Wine Tour in Florence- examples of past events HERE

The pickings for what’s open in Florence on Christmas day are tight & clean including Persian kebab, traditional spots for Florentine fare & steak and pasta & pizza bars. I first compiled this list in 2016 and keep it updated for your dining delight.

PLEASE NOTE: I’ve updated for 2023, but please bear with me in that it might read a little chaotic and not as well organized as I’d like but the tasty intel (i.e. straight up addresses) is there. You’re going to need to look at pics/google reviews for a lot of addresses since I didn’t have time to write out highlights. It’s been a really busy year, thanks for your patience!

I’d be happy to provide a quick hand-picked list if you shoot me an e-mail (I am not very good at responding to DMs on IG) and especially if you show your appreciation by gifting me a coffee on VenMo 😉 Happy Holidays!

Continue Reading

1 2 3 30