In Florence restaurants are plentiful and eating out can be a hard choice. Still Tuscan in their roots they are very stubborn in their conservatism, especially when it comes to what they eat.
Florentines like their unsalted bread, their olive oil, their steaks rare and all washed down with a good red wine, mostly Chianti, as it has been for hundreds of years before.
In Florentine restaurants you can expect to see traditional entries on the menus such as bistecca, a steak from the Chianina cattle that will be rare if you don't specifically ask for it to be well cooked (Ask for it to be "ben cotta") crostini which are savory toppings on top of fried or toasted bread ribollita, a traditional Tuscan soup with its roots in peasant food or castagnaccio, a chestnut flour cake.
Look out for Osterias and Trattorias. These are cheaper than restaurants and you can dine extremely well on very little. Often you will need to have some smattering of the Italian language when going to a trattoria as they have a daily menu that changes according to what is season, fresh and available. This will be rattled off in Italian - so be warned. However, for the more adventurous give it a go, just say "si" and see what you get!
Two of my favorite Restaurants in Florence Italy
In my opinion, Tuscan cooking is best experienced in a trattoria of which there are many all over the city. Trattori are a lot cheaper than restaurants and are good value for money serving traditional Italian food
A good, simple Florentine meal can cost as little as E15 to E 35, a head. On the south side of the Arno River, I Quattro Leoni on Piazza della Passera is highly
recommended. Try the tortellini in pear, asparagus and taleggio sauce.
1) Trattoria Mario
For a bustling trattoria in the center of town try Trattoria Mario
on Via Rossini near Mercato Centrale where they do an excellent thick ribollita soup which is a typical Tuscan dish.
They also do a great beef stew. Pasta everywhere is simple, fresh and excellent.
Try fagioi bianchi at least once. Tuscans are known as bean eaters, and it is easy to see why once you have tried this delcious but simple dish of white beans, olive oil, garlic and sage.
I like this busy little eatery as it is not pretentious. You are expected to share a table. Chairs don't even have backs!
The unpretentious entrance to Trattoria Mario
But the food is excellent and it is the best value for money in Florence when it comes to ordering a Florentine steak.
Be prepared to wait for a table during high season. Trattorio is also a Slow Food Restaurant. See below.
2) Casa di Dante (del Pennello)
Another of my favorite restaurants not just from an historical point of view but also because of the quality of the food is Casa di Dante (del Pennello). This restaurant
has been in existence since at least the 1500s. It serves wonderful antipasto platters that need to be tried. This restaurant is south of the train station at number 5 Via Dante Alighieri.
Another good restaurant that is well frequented by the locals, especially by local workers and farmers is Le Mossacce at 55 Via del Proconsolo. Here you can find great steaks and veal rolls.
If you are looking for a cheap meal for the family and you are in the Mercato Centrale area you can't go wrong with Nerbone who has been feeding the locals since 1874. It's only open from 7:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, but the food here is traditional cucina povera (poor man's kitchen) excellent quality and filling for about 4-5 euros a dish.
Slow Food Florence Italy
Florentines love their food, and despite a city setting, it is still food that is based in the simple Tuscan fare of bread, oil, and vegetables.
Meat dishes of course are dominated by the the huge T-bone steaks that come from the Chianina cattle
of the area, seen on the menu as Bistecca Fiorentina. However, it is not just beef that appears on the menu. Wild boar is hunted in the surrounding hills and appears on the menu as cianghiale
which is absolutely delicious, rabbit, pork, lamb and chicken.
Chicken livers are seen in many Florentine recipes done a number of different ways, and white beans are served as a side dish cooked with olive oil, sage and garlic.
Chesnuts grow in the upper-hills surrounding Florence and made into a number of desserts. One such dessert that has been made for generation is castagnaccio
In the Province of Florence the Certaldo onion
has been recognized by the Slow Food Movement as a special food of the area. There are 2 types of Certaldo
; the Statina
which is a round, purple sweet onion that is eaten fresh during the summer months.
Then there is the Vernina
which is bright red and fairly pungent that is harvested from from the end of August through the winter months. The Certaldo onions are used in Florentine soups, and in a traditional dish called francesina
, a dish of boiled beef and pureed onions.
Eggs and poultry meat on the menu of slow food restaurants in Florence will more than not be from the Valdarno chicken.
This is a tall, white bird with yellow feet, beak and skin and grows very slowly to reach its optimal weight at around 5-6 months of age. Both the eggs and the meat of the Valdarno chicken is excellent and the yolks have a very large, yellow yolk.
5 Slow Food Restaurants Florence Italy
There are several Slow Food Restaurants in Florence. These restaurants only use local produce that has been organically grown, is free from anything remotely genetically modified and rely on traditional recipes to use for the menus.
1) Ristorante Al Tranvai
Piazza T.Tasso, 14r
Prices: € 20/25,00
Accepts all Credit Cards
The Al Tranvai restaurant is west of the Santa Maria del Carmine church in the Piazza Torquato Tasso. Great food with large portions and good value for money.
2) Trattoria Da Burde di Gori Giuliano & c. s.n.c
Via Pistoiese 6/R - 50145
Prices: Average price for a main meal is € 10, 00
Open: Only at noon Mondays to Saturdays and Friday nights.
The De Burde Trattoria is out of the city center on the road to Pistoia. You can get to it by bus number 35 from the railway station. Here you can try several tripe dishes which Florence is famous for plus many other authentic Italian dishes, including bistecca and all very well priced.
3) Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina 2r
Tel. 055 218550
A family restaurant that has been going since the 1950s where 4 generations of the Colzi family have worked over the years to feed Florentine locals, university students and tourists alike. If you are looking for a reasonably priced Florentine T-Bone (bistecca) steak this is the place to come.
4) Trattoria Da Sergio
Borgo San Frediano 145/R,
Tel. 055 223449
Open: Mondays - Sundays 7 p.m. - 11 p.m.
A small trattoria in the Ortrarno which seats about 40 people and is about a 15 minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio and not far from the Porta San Frediano. Here you can eat typical Tuscan cuisine; ribollita, tripe, and the Florentine "peposo", among others. If you come to eat here, order the Peposo, as it is highly remoPrices are fair.
5) Il Fagioli
Corso dei Tintori, 47/r
Tel. 055 244 285
Prices: Average price for a main meal is € 10, 00
Closed Saturdays and Sundays and month of August
No credit cards
The Il Fagioli is a family restaurant not far from the Ponte alle Grazia. A handwritten menu only in Italian shouldn't put you off as there is usually a waiter who will be able to translate for you if you are stuck. An unpretentious restaurant with wooden tables but great food and very busy selling traditional Fiorentine dishes such as tripe, veal, bistecca etc. Reservations are advisible.
Here is our Recipe for Castagnaccio
When visiting your Florence restaurants in Italy look out for this dish.
Castagnaccio is a typical dessert made with chestnut flour, common to the Apennine mountain area of Tuscany.
This is the Florentine version with rosemary.
Despite being a typically autumn and winter specialty, it can be eaten all year round because it can be enjoyed both warm and cold.
400 g sweet chestnut flour
1/2 liter warm milk
2T extra-virgin olive oil
50 g chopped pine nuts or walnuts
50 g sultanas
grated orange rind (optional)
Sieve the flour, salt and add to the warm milk. Beat until smooth and there are no lumps. Add the oil, the pine nuts or walnuts and the sultanas previously soaked in warm water and squeezed. Mix all the ingredients and pour in a baking tin greased with oil. Batter should be at least 1 cm in thickness. Top with rosemary needles, pine nuts or walnuts, the orange rind (optional) and a drizzle of oil. Cook in a mid oven (150-160°C) for about an hour.
Cookery Schools in Florence
If you would like to learn how to cook some of these traditional Italian dishes you have eaten in restaurants around Florence you can. With our partner Viator we offer not just tours of Florence where you can explore the best of the Florence food markets, but you can also attend one of the many cooking classes in Florence through Viator. Just click on the banner below for more details.