Besides the amazing museums, architecture and general feeling that you’re walking through history, my favorite part about Italy is the food. Everywhere you turn you can find delicious pasta, melt in your mouth gnocchi, pizza unlike anything you’ve ever tasted and of course gelato to make you drop to your knees and praise the ice cream gods for such sweet heaven.
We’ve been to Italy three previous times and every time I left feeling like I gained five pounds but amazingly satisfied with most everything I ate. Our fourth, most recent trip to Florence was no different. Now I’m not saying that every single restaurant is phenomenal because we definitely ate at some “ehh” places over our four days there, but these five I’m highlighting really took the cake. They had amazing service, delicious food and great atmospheres. When you go to Florence, make sure you check these places out!
Recommended for: Breakfast when you’re going to the Academia to see the David.
We stumbled upon this adorable bar/cafe when the nearby one we located on google was closed. They probably weren’t even entirely open (it was just about 8 in the morning), but the owner/manager(?) ushered us inside as I asked the waiter setting up chairs outside if they were open in my broken Italian. And I’m so glad he did.
He happily made us each a delicious cappuccino and we selected the most delectable pastries I’ve had in Italy thus far. They were still warm from the oven and as we ate the chef brought out another tray from the kitchen. They were so delicious and reasonably priced (about 1€ each) that we all decided one wasn’t enough.
So when you get up early to see the David (because that’s important too, to avoid the crowds), do yourself a favor and stop by this delicious bar for a pastry you won’t soon forget.
Ristorante Lorenzo de Medici
Recommended for: When you’ve finished visiting the Medici Chapels and are craving an amazing pizza.
After visiting the Bargello museum and then Medici Chapels on our first day, a couple of us were craving pizza (when it Italy right?). We found this restaurant just a block from the Medici Chapels. The waiter ushered us in giving us the choice of where to sit in the sprawling restaurant. We chose the center room since it was the warmest and it was freezing outside. We were the only ones in the place for most of our meal and it felt like our own personal pizzeria. One waiter even asked us if the music was okay or too loud for our liking.
Kaitlin and I shared the best pizza I’ve ever had in Italy, the Pizza Marinaretta with tomato (when they say just tomato on Italian pizza menus this usually means tomato sauce), cherry tomatoes, oregano, garlic and burrata cheese. The husbands each got their own pizza with an assortment of meats on them but I can’t remember which now. They both raved about their meals though and we all left quite satisfied.
Gelateria della Passera
Via Toscanella 15r 50125 Florence
Hours: 12:00 – 23:00 (though I believe they close earlier on Sundays)
Recommended for: A snack after traipsing through the Pitti Palace or a late night snack after you’ve had dinner at Ristorante Borgo Antico (see the next item on the list).
After not so great, overpriced gelato on Via pot Santa Maria (the road that connects to the Ponte Vecchio), we were determined to find the amazing gelato I had raved about. Andy, Kaitlin’s husband, the google master, found this glorious, teeny tiny (I mean tiny…not all four of us fit inside at once to order), gelateria. Scoops were only 1€ each and were absolutely worth every cent (and more!). I had dark chocolate and coffee and even though it was freezing outside on the bench where we ate, I wanted to savor it for as long as possible.
Recommended for: A delicious, casual dinner after a long day of sight seeing at the Piti Palace or other south bank locations.
This delicious restaurant was another find courtesy of my google save friends, Kaitlin and Andy. We meandered over the Ponte Vecchio for dinner away from the touristy part of Florence (same with the gelato) and I’m so glad we did. I trusted Kaitlin and followed her through winding streets, unsure where we’d end up. We popped out of the dark, narrow streets of the southern part of Florence into a cute little piazza called the Piazza Santo Spirito. Restaurants lined the left of the piazza and we were greeted promptly as we walked towards the door.
Before we ordered they plied us with bread and olives. The olives had a little kick in their marinade and I could’ve eaten the whole bowl myself and then some. I ordered my go to pasta, the gnocchi and this one was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious. They played American classic rock music and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening. The only disappointment was that it was Sunday and the gelateria was closed when we walked back to the apartment.
Recommended for: Your fancy, special, dinner in Florence. A must for steak lovers but they also have amazing pasta.
Nota Bene: It’s pretty imperative that you make reservations for this restaurant as it’s always packed.
So the last time we were in Florence, we stayed in a great little hotel, but the location was quite close to the train station. For those of you who have traveled, you know what that means… it’s always a little… ehh, especially after dark and especially for a girl who is plagued by generalized anxiety disorder. Unwilling to really travel far from our hotel in the evening, we located the Trattoria Dall’Oste Oricellari near the train station. We were so amazed by the food and service, that we ate there all three nights we stayed in Florence. We never made reservations… but I think we made it in each time because we came early… Americans eat so much earlier than Italians.
When Andy said he wanted a Florentine steak, I jumped at the chance to suggest our beloved restaurant again and was excited to go back after two and a half years. After researching we realized it would be best to make reservations and I stumbled through an Italian website to book us in for our second night in Florence. Here’s where things got a little confusing. I didn’t realize that there several locations of this restaurant in Florence (and world wide actually!). So when I thought I was booking one place, I was actually booking at a different location and better yet… we turned up at a third location at our reserved time. They couldn’t find our reservation at first but once he realized it was for the other location and saw that we did in fact have a reservation, the kind worker took pity on us lost Americans and seated us immediately. The evening we spectacularly from there.
Before dinner Kaitlin and I ordered an Aperol spritz, a traditional Italian aperitif and one of my favorites. The ones they served us that night were hands down the best I’ve ever had. I had to ask what prosecco they added and they said it was Ruffino prosecco. I know i’ll need to locate that here in England ASAP! The waiter even walked me through the order in which to pour the ingredients of the spritz. And that’s just one example of the stellar service we had all night. What a memorable experience. I’m sure we’ll venture back the next time we’re in Florence!
I ordered a filet with gorgonzola sauce cooked medium per the recommendation of the waiter. (Which is far more rare than I like… but I know when to not argue with those who know the food best). Kaitlin and Andy ordered a bone-in steak that came on a sizzling cast iron board and they kindly let me cook my steak pieces a little more. With that, my steak was absolutely perfect! Andy and Kaitlin also got a side of potatoes that I COULD NOT STOP EATING. So flavorful and crispy and delicious! Tim ordered mushroom ravioli and those too were just as amazing as I remembered.
After a delicious dinner, we said “why not” to checking out the dessert menu. Of course we had to get the tiramisu as we so often do in Italy. Trattoria dall’oste didn’t let us down. It was as delicious as the rest of the meal.
So there you go… my five favorite places to grab something to eat or drink in Florence, the beautiful capital of Tuscany. Let me know if you check these places out or if you have others you want to share! We’re always looking for fun new places to eat!