Florence’s most beloved culinary experiences are found in the classics: the velvet espressos, the spools of pasta, the creamy gelato, the sunset Negronis. But the best Florentine eateries innovate and inspire with a light-as-air twist on tradition. What could be more delicious?
Piazza della Signoria 5, Centro Storico | +39 055 214412
Oh, Rivoire – we have a soft spot for this institutional cafe on the buzzing Piazza della Signoria (and not just because it was the source of our first authentic Italian cappuccino). An early morning walk alongside other Rivoire-bound patrons makes you feel part of a longstanding Florentine ritual. So stand at the bar while you imbibe an espresso shot and chat with your neighbor – it’s the beauty of an Italian morning in a coffee cup.
Via dei Neri 32R, Santa Croce | +39 055 274 1541
When a passion for micro-roasteries meets innate Italian coffee know-how, the result is going to be good. If you’re looking for your cold brew-pour-over-single-origin fix, this is where you’ll find it, along with a small legion of cheerful, young baristas.
Via Andrea del Verrocchio 5R, Sant’Ambrogio | +39 055 234 5853
Full disclosure: our love for Chef Picchi’s little township of restaurants knows no bounds, so we weren’t surprised that his picturesque coffee outpost became our favorite way to start a morning. Claim a spot on the patio for people watching that’s good enough to accompany your pastry.
Via Roma 1R, Centro Storico | +39 055 213896
Depending on who you ask, Gilli is a snooty tourist trap or an all-day essential from first espresso to last cocktail; we certainly found it to be the latter. Belle Époque accents like arched doorways, crystal chandeliers and a splendid clock watching over all mean that sitting indoors gives the prime Piazza della Repubblica patio serious competition.
Via dei Georgofili 3R/7R, Centro Storico | +39 055 219208
It feels like cheating to call this essential Florence eatery a sandwich shop since it will just happen to be the best panino you’ve ever tasted. Lines famously snake around the corridor here, but warm focaccia, freshly cured meats and an array of sauces (we’re partial to the spicy) make every minute worth the wait. This is a great option before or after your Uffizi fix.
Ristorante Trattoria Angiolino
Via di Santo Spirito 36R, Santo Spirito | +39 055 239 8976
Our final day in Florence found us with just enough time for one last, lingering lunch and boy, were we glad we ended on Angiolino’s high note. There isn’t anything flashy about this mural-painted trattoria on a quiet street, just Tuscan home cooking, kind and courteous service and the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from a meal that’s exactly right.
Via de’Ginori 8, San Marco | +39 055 075 0600
It seems like every great city can lay claim to a lifestyle store/cafe these days: Merci in Paris, ABC Carpet & Home in New York, and now La Ménagère in Florence. There is something especially fun about finding this sprawling florist-meets-restaurant-meets-boutique in the birthplace of the Renaissance, playful permission that old and new can happily coexist. Whether you’re in the mood to dine, booze or browse, there is something here for everyone, and at every time of the day.
Piazza de’ Nerli 1, San Frediano | +39 055 238 2946
When on the subject of blending tradition and trend with great success, Berberè leaps to mind. An artsy space not entirely unlike something you’d find in LA or New York, this casual yet outstanding pizza and craft beer spot attracts a vibrant young crowd with a menu inclusive of vegetarians, microwbrew aficionados and even – dare we say it – gluten-free folk.
Gucci Museo Caffè & Restaurant
Piazza della Signoria 10, Centro Storico | +39 055 7592 3827
We admit to being dubious when someone recommended this chic stop on the teeming Piazza della Signoria. But delicious fresh pastas, a beautifully curated museum shop, wines by the glass, and prime Uffizi people watching all from your Gucci-monogrammed place setting – what’s not to love?
5 e Cinque
Piazza della Passera 1, Santo Spirito | +39 055 274 1583
Make no mistake about it, we are Italian trattoria fare gals through-and-through — if we could only eat one cuisine forever, Italian may just be the one we’d pick. So it was a particularly welcome surprise that we found ourselves so head-over-heels for an eatery specializing in seasonal, vegetarian fare. Should you find yourself hungry while coming or going from the Piazza de’ Pitti, 5 e Cinque has our hearty recommendation.
SNACKS & SWEETS
Via de’ Tornabuoni, 64R, Santa Maria Novella | +39 055 211656
Stopping into Procacci for the legendary panini tartufati (tiny, perfect truffle sandwiches) and a fizzy glass of Prosecco is a practice of near ceremonial proportions for Florentines and visitors alike. This is the kind of gourmet shop that delights all the senses, and to say that the sandwich-and-bubbles pick-me-up is the perfect snack isn’t overstating a thing.
Via dell’Isola delle Stinche 7R, Santa Croce | +39 055 292334
Florence’s oldest family-owned gelateria is home to a bevy of tasty flavors, but at the end of the day, Vivoli is all about the affogato. We’d certainly heard of the dessert (a scoop of ice cream ‘drowned’ in espresso) before traveling to Florence, but we’d never understood how truly good it could be. The ‘afternoon delight’ version of your midday coffee, Vivoli enlists chilled cups and a unique serving method to elevate an Italian classic.
Arà è Sicilia
Via degli Alfani 127R, San Marco | +39 333 198 3927
When we make a mental list of the “Best Things We Ate In Florence”, Arà’s giant arancini and mouthwatering cannoli are two of the things we remember first. A tiny, unassuming counter a stone’s throw from Michelangelo’s David, you’d mistake this for another gelateria at first glance. But their Sicilian specialties are flat-out fantastic, especially the prosciutto or ragú stuffed rice balls and perfectly rich-crisp cannoli. If you can snag one of the few seats and stay for a glass of wine, we can pretty much guarantee your happy camper status.
Via Lambertesca 18R, Centro Storico | +39 055 291128
In a city bursting with excellent, longstanding gelaterias, Carapina is, at 8 years of age, a veritable upstart. Yet, owner Simone Bonini’s passion for highest quality ingredients dictated by the seasons has firmly established it as one of Florence’s very best. Each day brings 16 small-batch flavors to choose from, and it’s a delight to poke your head in and see what’s new.
Chiasso dei del Bene, Centro Storico | +39 055 268528
‘Fresh food and old furniture’ is what’s on offer at Amblè, another shining star in Florence’s old-meets-new guard. While it’s fun to peruse the lighthearted collection of vintage pieces on display, this tucked-away place is really all about the little tramezzini sandwiches and effervescent cocktails. Though we typically like to leave our tech behind when exploring, the free wifi is a nice perk, should you need it.
Via dei Tavolini 19R, Centro Storico | +39 055 239 8969
Shortly after arriving in Florence, your first gelato craving inevitably ensues. So we’d suggest making Perché no!… (translation: Why not?) your next stop. At once classic (in business since 1939 with all the familiar flavors) and modern (no fake additives), this is the best place to begin your exploration of the Italian ice cream scene. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that the stracciatella is out of this world.
Apertivi, Digestivi & Bars
Via di Santo Spirito 60R, San Frediano | +61 2 8078 1888
One of Florence’s greatest gifts to her visitors is the wine bar, and Il Santino is the preeminent example of this prowess at its best. Companion to the always-bustling Il Santo Bevitore, Il Santino is an ideal place for a pre-dinner glass. The sizable light bites menu and impressive cheese collection make it ideal for anytime.
La Terrazza at Continentale
Piazza della Repubblica 1, Centro Storico | +39 055 283612
We’ve said it before: La Terrazza at the Continentale hotel is our favorite combination of mixology and views in the city. Take the elevator to the rooftop and tuck into any one of the cozy nooks that await. An irresistible menu of ‘dolce vita cocktails’ and wines by the glass is the perfect accompaniment to watching the late afternoon sun melt into the Arno.
Via Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 22R, Santa Maria Novella | +39 055 239 6700
The original may be one of Venice’s most famous landmarks, but after over 60 years of Negroni making in an historic, Murano glass accented space, Harry’s is a bonafide Florentine icon all its own. Try a world famous martini, Bellini or the aforementioned Florence invention, and settle into the magic that comes of getting to know a true classic.
Piazza Antinori 3, Santa Maria Novella | +39 055 292234
Antinori is one of the world’s oldest and most well-known wine producers, and Cantinetta Antinori is a wonderful way to experience the family’s wines. Housed in the grand Palazzo Antinori mansion, you’ll be as dazzled by your surroundings as you are by what’s in the glass. If you’re feeling famished, the menu offers everything from farm-fresh starters to hearty steaks.
Golden View Open Bar
Via de Bardi 58R, Santo Spirito | +39 055 214502
This aptly named restaurant overlooking the Arno does indeed have a lot to offer when it comes to both scenery and apertivi. Bright, airy surroundings, a convivial vibe and live music make this the perfect place for sunset or after-dinner revelry – try and visit at least once while you’re in town.
Lungarno Corsini, Santa Maria Novella | +39 055 289810
This popular happy hour hang is probably the hippest bar on our list, but it is by no means too cool for school. There’s plenty of indoor seating and a straight-forward cocktail menu, but we can never say no to a lively patio with river views.
Via Andrea del Verrocchio 8R, Sant’Ambrogio | +39 055 234 1100
We really do appreciate the skill behind a handcrafted tasting menu, and the chef behind its creation. We respect the quest for Michelin stars, and revere the effort behind rising to ‘internationally known’ status. But we must confess: the most enjoyable part of the restaurant experience is sitting down to thoughtful but unfussy food you just cannot wait to eat. That Chef Fabio Picchi has managed to be all of the above at the same time is anomalous. That he also does so in an elevated yet informal atmosphere where waitstaff joins your table to impart the menu in unhurried, vivid detail, is charming. That you leave utterly impressed with the feeling that you can’t wait to come back, well — that feels nothing short of extraordinary.
Via del Porcellana 25R, Santa Maria Novella | +39 055 212691
We were warned against overly kitsch-ed up eateries while plotting our Florentine restaurant plan, but one was disclosed to us with a different kind of warning attached: “Go to Trattoria Sostanza for the pastas and the butter chicken but don’t write about it – it’s already too crowded!” Sostanza is too special not to disclose though, its no-frills appearance and hand-scrawled menus too endearing to keep to ourselves. This is the kind of place your trattoria dreams are made of (and they weren’t overhyping that melt-in-your-mouth butter chicken either).
Borgo S. Jacopo 57R, Santo Spirito | +39 055 212427
Once a former ‘find’ reaches ubiquitous status a la Trattoria Cammillo, the fear that it has changed or will change sets in. Ten years passed between our first and second dinners at this warm, 70-year-old Santo Spirito classic, and the same familial embrace we remembered punctuated our meal from fritto misto to fresh-yet-familiar pasta.
Trattoria del Carmine
Piazza del Carmine 18, San Frediano | +39 055 218601
We’re certain we enjoyed our starters and first courses at this restaurant near the piazza of the same name. But the perfect bistecca alla fiorentina is so good, it outshines everything else on the table. You’ll find myriad opportunities to sample this traditional dish in the city that created it, but Trattoria del Carmine is where it’s at its very best.
Ristorante La Giostra
Borgo Pinti 12R, Santa Croce | +39 055 24 13 41
Perhaps unsurprisingly, ‘The Carousel’ is a bit of a character. The ambiance is den-like in its dark corners and burning candles, and delicious plates ‘courtesy of the house’ appear on a whim, with a hint of mystery. The owner, a Hapsburg prince turned restaurateur, only adds to the swashbuckling sense of the place, and the walls lined with his glad-handing celebrity photos are an interesting touch. But then, there’s just something about La Giostra that blows by the hype. Maybe it’s the unique, well-priced wine list, maybe it’s the faultless cuisine – whatever the combination, it’s well worth a visit.