Italy may be known for its cuisine, but like many places, finding a good meal can be hit or miss. We were lucky to find some really good restaurants during our recent trip to Florence. So without further ado, here are a few of our choices for ‘where to eat when in Florence’…
Trattorio Mario – Located at Via Rosina 2, near Mercato Centrale (the central market), Trattorio Mario is a tiny little eatery that’s been in business for over 60 years. This is a great choice for an inexpensive lunch, but be aware that seating is limited and they are very, very popular, which means that they are very, very busy. So, if you don’t mind a bit of a wait and possibly sharing a small table with the locals, then put your name on the seating list, wait your turn and enjoy!
They make a great fried steak with tomato sauce and a delicious tortelli di patate (potato-filled pasta) with meat sauce.
Trattoria Sostanza (Il Troia) – This tiny restaurant is very popular with the locals. Known for a few specialty dishes, two of which are their pollo al burro and fiorentina bistecca (chicken cooked in butter and Florentine-style steak), Il Troia is a good choice for an outstanding meal and really good service.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are required, especially for dinner when they offer only two seating times. Also, the dining experience here is communal, so be prepared to share a table. Located just around the corner from our recommended hotel and an easy walk from the train station, Il Troia is located at Via Porcellana, 25/r.
Osteria Belle Donne – A small and cozy eatery in a quiet neighborhood, we liked Belle Donne for their pici con carbonara e zucchine, a thick pasta served with pancetta, zucchini and pecorino cheese. For a secondi course, Gayla enjoyed a simple dish of meatballs with tomato sauce and Mike liked the pork cutlet with gorgonzola. Osteria Belle Donne is located at Via delle Belle Donne 16/r, one street over from Santa Maria Novella and a five-minute walk from our recommended hotel.
Da Nerbone – This local fixture has been around since 1872 catering to a loyal lunch crowd and a number of lucky tourists.
Located in Mercato Centrale, this popular lunch counter offers a selection of pastas, sandwiches and stews…all laid out under the glass display case, so if you’re a bit nervous when faced with an Italian menu, just point to what you’d like. Most people on the day of our visit were in line for the roast beef sandwich with sauce, but we really enjoyed the slices of pork roast served on a fresh and crispy bread roll. We recommend stopping by Da Nerbone for an inexpensive sit-down meal or a lunch ‘on the go’. Keep in mind that tables are limited and there may be a 10-minute wait at the counter to place your order.
And, if you’re stopping by Nerbone, take a look around Florence’s Central Market…
Mercato Centrale – This is the local food market where you’ll find vendors selling everything from cheeses, meats, fresh produce, and seafood to hot meals, olive oil, pastries…and biscotti. If you’re looking for the makings of a picnic, this is the place for you.
And, now for dessert…
There are gelaterias everywhere in Florence, but in many cases those that are most visible in touristy locations aren’t always the best. However, right in the heart of the historical center of Florence, in Piazza della Signoria is Bar Perseo, one of the best we’ve found yet. Flavors we liked include banana, cream buontalenti, stracciatella and cioccolato fondente. That last one is a must for chocolate lovers, but note that it’s very, very rich and should be paired with something milder…like the banana. Mike thought that was a delicious combination, as did our server who complimented him on his selection. Located at Piazza della Signoria 16.
Another gelateria worth trying is Grom, an eco-friendly artisanal alternative. They offer delicious gelati and fruit sorbets, produced with a focus on organically grown, seasonal ingredients. Located at the corner of Via del Campanile and Via delle Oche.
Where to sleep when in Florence: