I have recently been asked to lecture at a new institute in Florence called ‘La Bottega Toscana’. I explained to the lovely owner Laura Vacchi that it is impossible to teach ‘Wine & Tourism in Italy’ in 14 hours!! so we are starting with ‘Food & Wine Tourism in Tuscany’.
The richness of Italy and its Regions when it comes to such a topic is somewhat incredible! After all these years of living in Florence, I am still amazed by what this small, quaint city has too offer. The major reason for Italy’s abundance is of course its perfect terrain and temperature allows for growing perfect seasonal produce along with the best liquid gold ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ in the world not to mention being the largest producer of wine on the planet.
Although it’s perfect terrain is not the only reason for its rich choices. A major reason has to do with the locals. When it comes to food in Italy it is not about your economic levels. Italians eat local, seasonal and regional and there will be nothing more to say about that…
Florence still has a major local scene as we have many Florentines still living in the historical centre. Although the figures have drastically changed since the EU unification. I have seen many special delicatessens close down due to this problem.
Luckily enough you can still Eat and Drink like a local. Check a list of my favourite caffe/ bar’s, wine bars, restaurants, street food stands, bakeries and delicatessens.
This is the first list based on the Four historical quarters of the city Santa Maria Novella, San Giovanni, Santo Spirito & Santa Croce.
Santa Maria Novella – Faenza – St Lorenzo – Mercato Centrale – Via Guelfa – Via San Gallo – Via de Ginori – Via Roma – Via degli Strozzi – Via della Spada – Via de’ Tornabuoni – Via del Trebbio
CAFFE – BAR
Via de’Ginori 55/57r, Firenze
The very cute chocolate maker David Berlotti who also teaches at Mama offers a delicious selection of chocolates that you can enjoy with a coffee or tea at the bar. If you really need that chocolate fix be sure to try the incredible selection of Hot chocolate. My favourite is the spicy one!
Caffe Sabatino dal 1921
Via Faenza 68r, Firenze
This cafe/bar is in the category of the ‘Esercizi Storici di Firenze’ this is certification given by the commune of Florence to any commercial practice that has been in business for a minimum of 50years. Caffe Sabatino is the perfect stop for a morning cappuccino, light lunch or drink. The cafe is still using historical local coffee brand mokamag that has been around since 1875.
Gilli Pasticceria 1733
Piazza della Repubblica 39r
The oldest cafe in Florence has that traditional charm. I love standing at the bar around aperitivo time to watch the barrista’s making cocktails with fresh fruit and delicious flavours. A great place to people watch and very charming to stand at the bar! the outdoor seating is as comfortable as it gets in one of the main squares in Florence. Remember sitting downs has its price! Perfect for morning cappuccino, sweet or savoury snacks, take home florentine products and aperitivo. Closes around 8pm
Caffe Giocosa – Roberto Cavalli
Via della Spada 10,
Originally occupying the entire corner where now you can see the animal print clad designs of RC and called Caffe Casoni. Marks the place where our beloved Negroni Cocktail was invented by – Count Camillo Negroni and made by barman Fosco Scarselli.
Today you can taste a great version of the cocktail at Caffe Giacosa where you can see part of the original furniture from Caffe Casoni.
Caffe Giocosa has their own in house pastry chef making most of the products on display.
Perfect for a morning cappuccino and something sweet.
If you are around aperitivo time – be sure to taste the petite truffle panino.
Casa del Vino
Via dell’Argento 16r, 50123
I often crave a panino from Casa del Vino. Their burrata, tomato, caper & origano bread roll is to die for! One of the best places in the city to find top national wines the owner is a wine buff and has a few fantastic vintages of Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Super Tuscan and more! Perfect for lunch or an aperitivo open until 8.00pm Friday & Saturday.
Via dei Tornabuoni
Since 1885 – procacci has been serving its petit-truffle panino with a glass of Prosecco, Franciacorta or choose from their vast selection of wine direct from their owners wine estates. Those fabulous Florentine Nobiles ‘Antinori’ so yes you can have a glass of Tignanello, Solaia, Pian della Vigne, Bocca di Lupo ecc….
Now also serving a light lunch although primarily this is the perfect ‘spuntino’ – snack stop or ‘aperitivo’. If you are a virgin Mary lover be sure to try their version. Open every day until 9.00pm
Inside the Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze
Pass by Da Nerbone and if you are lucky enough not to find a queue be sure to try chef Fabio Gill’s ‘panino con il lampredotto’ or if you don’t feel too game try a seasonal first course with a glass of table Chianti Wine. Open daily for lunch until 2.00pm
Via San Gallo 3/r
delightful and brand new! tiny panino shop that serves delicious warm & freshly made panino or schiacciata with local salumi, cheese and other fabulous flavours. Perfect table wine for only 1Euro per glass! a cheap and delicious 5 Euro lunch.
Snack Bar Anna
Via de’Ginori 26, 50123
Great coffee using local coffee brand Mokarico. This lovely 1950’s bar serves bagels with yummy fresh fillings. One of the best bagels I have ever tasted! The owners have been making bagels for over 17years! Originally bakers based in the quaint town of Poggio a Caiano.
Pescheria Ultima Spiaggia
Inside the Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze
Amongst the fabulous fish stands of the central markets on the left corner you will find ‘Pescheria Ultima Spiaggia’ a fresh fish strand with a twist. Enjoy fried calamari, fish and chips with a glass of sparkling wine. The owners are real characters you will enjoy standing around for this perfect street food flavour.
Top floor Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze
With out a doubt one of the top bakeries in the city. Baker David Bedu only uses a sourdough starter and stone ground grain. From French desserts & pastries, to San Lorenzo loafs & curry flavoured baguettes using Molino Grifoni grain from Arezzo. Be sure to taste his pizza by the slice!
Via della Spada 23/r Firenze
My favourite time to visit Top Forno is in the morning so I can sneak out back to greet husband and wife duo the owners and bakers.
Maurizio and his wife are passionate bakers who like to keep to tradition. They have a selection of medieval recipes that they continue to bake daily including pan de ramerino a sweet bread made with raisins and rosemary, savoury schiacciata – focaccia breads with gorgonzola and pear, when in season fig with black pepper perfect with salami!
During the festive season Maurizio makes traditional cakes including panettone that you can have made to order. His pan-pepato & pan-forte is to die for made with honey from a bio-dynamic farm in the casentino. Open all day Monday – Saturday
Via S.Gallo 1/r, Firenze
I could spend the entire day in this bakery tasting all of the delicious pastries, biscuits and bread. Great selection of ancient grains and also gluten free brioche.
Top floor Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze
I must admit I mostly prefer to be served when I am lunching and always for dinner! this is what is so fantastic about Sud Pizzeria they have up stairs seating and full service where you can choose from their four pizza’s. Delicious a true Pizza Napolitana!
Obicà – Mozzarella Bar
Via de’ Tornabuoni
the name of the restaurant describes in neapolitan dialect ‘something that is happening write in front of your eyes’. The brain behind the first ‘Mozzarella Bar’ in the world is Silvio Orsini who sources the best DOP CAMPANA Mozzarella di Bufala, Stracciatella from Puglia and other Slow food products and distributes these products all over the world.
In Florence we are lucky enough to have the most beautiful Obicà. Situated inside the original palace of the Tornabuoni Nobiles it is the perfect setting in the summer months to relax in its decadent courtyard tasting mozzarella and one of the best pizza in town.
Inside Strozzi Palace – Piazza Strozzi
There are two location one is inside Strozzi Palace – great for a morning cappuccino or to sit in the out door area to cool down during the summer months.
The second location in Piazza Strozzi is a super hip location typically frequented by football players, models and florence creme della crop is the perfect stop. In the morning you can enjoy breakfast and great coffee served by gorgeous barista ‘Christian’. Ideal for a light lunch serving raw fish, salads and pasta dishes.
In the evening the aperitivo time is perfect for a younger crowd. Buffet snacks included with 10Euro cocktails. Wine is mostly from the Colle Bereto Estate situated in Chianti – Senese. open until late.
OSTERIA DELLA BELLA DONNA
Via delle belle donne
On the pretty street called ‘The street of the beautiful women is this quaint Osteria. The entry looks as though you are not going to be able to fit in to the restaurant. When you arrive inside you are greated by the lovely owner and are seated in a charming atmosphere. A great place for lunch or dinner serving typical Florentine delights. Their pasta dishes are my favourite.
Piazza Antinori 3, 50123 Firenze
How can you go wrong dining inside the Antinori’s family home a historical palace in the pretty square named after the Marchesi.
Traditional, great atmosphere and very elegant dining.
Via del Trebbio 1/r, 50123 Firenze
To be quite honest when I feel like a bistecca all fiorentina I go to my butcher and cook it at home! although if you are staying in a Hotel this is impossible! so the next best alternative is Buca lapi. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is not cheap so if you see this steak on the menu for under 40 Euro it is not going to be the real deal. The meat is from an ancient bread of cow called ‘chianina’ the cost price of this meat is around 40 Euro per kilo. The price is high because there are very strict DOP laws on farming such a breed.
At Buca lapi you will pay up to 100 Euro in two for a real ‘Bistecca alla Fiorentina’ although believe me you will not be disappointed. The location is divine situated underneath the Nobile palace of the Antinori.
Rosticceria della Spada
Via della Spada 62 r, 50123 Firenze
Take -away Rotisserie
Via del Moro 66r, 50123 Firenze
I did prefer the look for the Rosticceria before they gave it a renovation although the meats are still excellent and just around the corner from the entry you can buy a vast selection of grilled meats with side vegetables to go.
Osteria da Giovanni
Via del Moro 22, 50123 Firenze
Great location gorgeous elegant looking restaurant. Giovanni and his daughter are lovely hosts to this fantastic true Florentine cuisine. Hand made pasta and great quality meats. Giovanni is a ‘latini’ a family of historical Florentine butcher. His brother runs ‘I Latini’ in Florence a very famous restaurant in Florence. Osteria da Giovanni is the more local version of ‘I Latini’.
Via del Albero
I can not say enough about this location. Every year this location is rated one of the best Restaurants in Florence by the Michelin Guide. The critics of the Michelin Guide certainly know what they are talking about this place is fantastic!
A particular concept of Japanese chefs cooking the most delicious Florentine traditional and contemporary flavours. The wine list is incredible one of the best in Florence and it is one of those rare locations where meat and fish are fantastic.