Florence Restaurants

This list of the Florence restaurants we recommend to visiting friends and colleagues has been circulating by email for years; my husband and I recently decided to put it online with a few more details. We use it ourselves when we don’t know where to eat in Florence! We start with where to have breakfast or brunch, over to lunch, through aperitivo and dinner. We’ve also got suggestions for lunch in the hills outside Florence, a favourite weekend activity. You’ll see that it’s a short and totally objective list, based on our own tastes. We don’t go in for traditional Tuscan trattorie, so you won’t find that on my list. You can find a much longer restaurant list on my friend Georgette’s blog, Girl in Florence. Rather, this is the shortlist of restaurants in and around Florence that we send to friends and visit ourselves with guests and locals. Hope you find it useful!

 

Breakfast to Brunch

 

Pancakes at a place that was very good, but it closed (figures)

Ditta Artigianale has various funky locations in town and is known for specialty coffee (also, aperitivo)

Bottega di Pasticceria hasTommy’s favourite pastries and cakes

Melaleuca (IG @ melaleuca.florence) is an Australian-run brunch / lunch spot along the Arno, their sweet potato fries are to die for

Manifattura Tabacchi is an urban reclaim project on the city’s north side and where the hipsters go for brunch (also, aperitivo) at the in-house bar-restaurant, Bulli & Balene

 

Lunch

In the hills or outside Florence

Al 588, Bagno a Ripoli (IG @ristoranteal588), is run by a young chef and team who are constantly innovating. Spring and summer lunches can be taken by the pool, while dinner is a possibility inside or out. Reservation required, as it’s part of Borgo i Vicelli, a boutique olive oil resort that often hosts weddings. (Also, dinner)

 

Al 588, Bagno a Ripoli

Coquinarius is on the way up to Fiesole (can be reached with a taxi) and offers outdoor seating in the summer. It’s won our seal of approval after consistently good meals. (Also, dinner)

Piatti e Fagotti: A super casual spot at San Domenico (on the way up to Fiesole) with meat, fish, pasta and veg options and a few outdoor tables if you can nab one.

Lo Strettoio on the hills of Careggi is an option for lunch or dinner but if you want the view, daylight’s handy. Classic Tuscan.

Trattoria La Gargotta, Bagno a Ripoli, has a large terrace with a stunning view over Florence and a menu that has barely been changed since the lira (prices, too!).

Il Quartino di Frescobaldi (Pelago, see IG @ilquartinofrescobaldi for menu) is owned by the famous winery. Overlooking their vines 30mins from South Florence it’s probably best for wine and cheese/meat plates, though also for burgers or ample plates of pasta. Also good for an aperitivo (reservations highly recommended).

Podere Castellare (Pelago, IG @poderecastellare)is a super chill gin resort 30 mins from Florence. Call ahead as their restaurant is only open during the hotel season and may be reserved for private events.

Downtown

Santa Rosa Bistro (IG @ santarosabistrot) is the best lunch spot for spring and fall due to its outdoor seating and chill vibes. Dinner here is also an option, and service is generally pretty quick.

Floret is a personal favourite but not at all Tuscan; located inside the Luisa via Roma store, their brunch, juices and bowls with excellent variety are very international.

Mercato Centrale upstairs at San Lorenzo’s famous market is a high-end food court with options that satisfy a group or family with varying requirements and good when you don’t want a formal sit-down and service type meal.

Babaè (IG @ babaefirenze) in the Oltrarno is a funky locale with updated Tuscan foods and grazing platters like falafel (also, dinner).

Santo Bevitore (IG @ilsantobevitorefi) on the Arno is a classic for either lunch or dinner, also good for fish.

Arà è Sud (Sant’Ambrogio) is a good option for a quick lunch, serving Sicilian street-food specialties that are quite authentic!

 

Aperitivo

Drink by the pool at Hotel Minerva

Rooftop bars

Grand Hotel Minerva overlooks piazza Santa Maria Novella; a small terrace (with a swimming pool you sadly cannot use as a non-guest) is a nice place for fancy cocktails and finger foods

Sesto on Arno is where you go when you want to splurge (or impress someone)

Downtown

The Stellar (Oltrarno – San Frediano) is the bar of a co-working and innovation hub, with an outdoor courtyard as well as indoor seating. (Also has formal restaurant for lunch or dinner, and does casual lunch)

Locale is the place to go for extreme mixologists.

Procacci on via Tornabuoni is a Florentine institution where you go to sip a prosecco with a tiny truffle sandwich.

Wine bars

Formaggioteca is a go-to spot for French and Italian wines and cheeses; you can have an aperitivo here or call a cheese plate or salad a meal.

Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina and Enoteca de’Giusti are two family-run wine bars, one across from Palazzo Pitti and the other near the Four Seasons hotel. A truly excellent selection with reasonable markup, they also serve nibbles.

 

Dinner

Italian / Tuscan food

Club culinario da Osvaldo is one of our long-time favourites, one of the few downtown restaurants (Santa Croce area) we’ve recommended forever. Classic Tuscan dishes meet other regions, perhaps their most exciting ones are the antipasti – we suggest getting them all. (Also, bistecca alla Fiorentina).

Nugolo is a relatively recent opening in the Sant’Ambrogio area serving nicely plated local, seasonal ingredients in an upscale yet casual environment.

Café Desiderio in Settignano: up the hill from the city, this is a favourite for special dinners (or lunches). 6 tables, a fabulous wine list, seasonal dishes, and an enigmatic host.

Where to eat Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Osteria dell’Enoteca in the Oltrarno, their steak and wine list are incredible.

Regina Bistecca is a central option (right near the Duomo!) and relative newcomer to Florence, stylish and consistently good.

Fancy

Irene at the Hotel Savoy in piazza delle Repubblica, exquisite service and dishes developed by an executive chef for the Rocco Forte Group (Fulvio Pierangelini), with the range of choices you’d expect from an international hotel.

Osteria del Pavone in piazza della passera (Oltrarno) has a rather wide menu and modern Florentine flavours

Atelier de’ Nerli (Oltrarno) if money is no object, this will be a good meal

La Leggenda dei Frati, next to Villa Bardini, amazing view of the hills and a Michelin star

Pizza

Giotto – the recently-opened central location in piazza Santa Maria Novella of this award-winning pizzeria is convenient and serves up excellent Neapolitan pizza (but nothing else!)

Santarpia – Outside Porta Romana (Due Strade area, reach by bus), they make our fave real pizza napoletana

Berbere isn’t bad if you’re in the Santa Croce area and want something tasty and no-frills

Don Fefè – along the Arno a bit beyond the center, they’ve got nice “gourmet” pizzas

Ethnic

Ararat (Sant’Ambrogio area) is the city’s Armenian restaurant. Not cheap, but amazing quality.

Ieie da Toshi (previously iyo iyo) is perhaps the best quality and most authentic Japanese in town (Sant’Amrogio area), with just a few dishes served in a little hole in the wall.

Vino e Ravioli serves up dumplings and wine, street food style, at Porta a Prato, also late-night

Hoseki is where we recommend if you’re dying for sushi with consistent quality over the years.

Summertime

The banks of the Arno become an outdoor dining playground in the summertime, with street food options enjoyed by mostly locals. Along Lungarno Cristoforo Colombo check out La Toraia and Il Molo.