Florence Food Guide: What to Eat in Florence and Where
Travelling to a country whose cultural identity is based on its culinary heritage can be daunting and even overwhelming. Walking from Ponte Vecchio to the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, you will surely stumble across at least fifty different restaurants – candle-lit osterie, small trattorie with red and white tablecloths, pizzerie displaying the best pizza in Florence, or even the typical Florentine taverne.
They all flaunt what looks, to the eyes of a foreigner, like wonderfully authentic Italian food. Sadly, that is not always the case, especially in very touristy cities like Florence.
It is easy to fall victim to tourist traps, which is why this guide directs you to true Italian restaurants, serving genuine and authentic food from Tuscany and all over Italy.
Let’s round up the foods that you simply need to try out on your next trip to Florence.
1. Bistecca alla Fiorentina
Named after the artistic capital of Italy, the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or simply la Fiorentina, may well be the culinary symbol of Florence par excellence.
With its distinctive T shape, this traditional Italian steak typically derives from the Chianina cattle, an autochthonous Tuscan breed, and must be cooked following strict, non-negotiable methods – over burning coal, which gives it just the right blood-red color and soft consistency.
Where to eat the best Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Florence
With a warm and cozy atmosphere, Trattoria Mario is one of the city’s historic trattorias. The restaurant’s faithful respect for the authentic way of serving the steak rare is playfully conveyed by the sign at the entrance that reads: ‘It is forbidden to ask for a well-done Fiorentina’, so best not challenge the cooks!
In this old, wooden trattoria, through an entrance framed by dangling plants, you will find a grill that is always alight and blazing hot, ready to cook la Fiorentina the traditional way. While you’re there, make sure to pair it with their homemade fagioli all’uccelletto and a glass of local Chianti.
2. Panino con il Lampredotto
You cannot visit Florence without trying a dish that make locals proud to be fiorentini!
Lampredotto is a stew made with a calf’s stomach slow cooked in tomato, onion, celery and parsley. Locals, however, like to eat it stuffed between two crunchy slices of bread!
Where to eat the best Panino al Lampredotto in Florence
1. ‘l Trippaio di San Frediano
In the heart of the San Frediano district lies an unmissable reference point for many Florentines eager to rediscover the old flavors in an authentic way. This small little kiosk offers their specialty just the way locals like it: in a crunchy bun, seasoned with their favorite salsa verde.
2. Osteria Tripperia il Magazzino
But Lampredotto is not just a street food. It can also be beautifully served on a plate as you sit at a table in Osteria Tripperia Il Magazzino!
Elevating humble and unpretentious food to a sophisticated fusion of cuisines, the restaurant proudly serves Lampredotto sushi: tempura-fried, rice wrapped in nori seaweed and topped with a thin slice of lampredotto, seasoned with a few drops of soy sauce. Or why not try the lampredotto and caramelized onion stuffed ravioli?
3. Il Peposo
Literally translated as peppery peposo, this is another culinary symbol of Florence rooted in the humble and inexpensive ingredients and cooking methods of the medieval cucina povera.
Making use of every edible part of the animal, peposo is a hearty and succulent stew, slow cooked in traditional terracotta vases with red wine, garlic and, yes, you guessed it, lots of pepper!
Where to eat the best Peposo in Florence
1. Vini e Vecchi Sapori
Located a few meters from Piazza della Signoria, Vini e Vecchi Sapori is a landmark for locals. The exceptional quality of its cuisine is thanks to its incredible cook, Rosanna Mazzanti, who claims to have made this dish almost every day for the past twenty years.
Another fundamental aspect of their winning recipe is the wine, to which Rosanna proudly adds: “a Tuscan red of course”.
2. Il Paiolo
An offshoot of Sabatini, one of the most famous and historic restaurants in Florence, Il Paiolo has certainly won itself an equal reputation.
The secret to their recipe lies in the finishing touch: once the wine has been absorbed after a few hours of cooking, they throw in a bouquet of herbs, rosemary, sage and thyme and let it simmer for another two hours.
If you’re trying to cut down on meat and increase your intake of veggies, nothing beats the Florentine ribollita, a bread-based chunky vegetable stew made with black cabbage and cannellini beans.
As a traditional peasant’s dish, ribollita was typically reheated and enjoyed the following day, as the name implies.
Where to eat the best Ribollita in Florence
1. Da Burde
At Burde’s, Thursdays are all about ribollita, because Wednesday was traditionally the day to use up all your stale bread making the dish, which would then be served the next day.
But Burde’s gives an usual and original touch to his recipe – the vegetables are cooked in a rich, flavorful meat stock and fresh thyme is sprinkled in. A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and it’s ready to be savored!
2. La Casalinga
If you’re looking for a more down-to-earth restaurant, La Casalinga is the place to go! Located in the Santo Spirito district, La Casalinga is an unconventional restaurant which refuses to take reservations, but where you will feel at home in a way nowhere else can do. Served in the traditional terracotta pots, this homemade-like ribollita is irresistibly tasty!
5. La Carbonara
Florence doesn’t just serve up local food. The city is enjoying a growing reputation for providing some of the best dishes from other regions of the country. This is particularly true of carbonara, the traditional Roman pasta dish loved around the world, but now you no longer have to travel down to Rome to try it…
Where to eat the best Carbonara in Florence
Caffè al Duomo
It is indeed true – to taste an authentic Roman carbonara you no longer have to travel to Rome. As a matter of fact, Florence has been named as the city that serves up the best carbonara in Italy, and at a spot just opposite the main cathedral.
Florence has been named as the city that serves up the best carbonara in Italy.
Just sit and close your eyes while you enjoy a creamy, peppery carbonara and you’ll feel like you’re sitting by the Colosseum.
Le Cappelle Medicee
At the heart of San Lorenzo Square sits a warm and welcoming restaurant that is renowned for its unmistakably delicious carbonara. If you fancy tasting the classic Roman dish the authentic way then don’t hesitate to stop at the Cappelle Medicee.
6. Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale
An all-time Italian favorite is Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale. This is a popular variant of the traditional ragù, made with wild boar, which confers it a distinctive rich and intense flavor.
Typically paired with fresh pappardelle pasta, this wonderfully flavorsome sauce is typical of the Maremma area of Tuscany, and has now become a staple all around the region.
Where to eat the best Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale in Florence
1. Ristorante Trattoria L’Oriuolo
In the heart of the historic center of Florence, a few blocks away from the Duomo, you will find one of the city’s landmarks for traditional cuisine.
A typically Tuscan ambience welcomes the visitor, along with classic cucina povera dishes, amongst which the irresistible Pappardelle al Cinghiale is the restaurant’s culinary highlight.
2. La Pentola dell’Oro
La Pentola dell’Oro, a historic restaurant founded by chef Giuseppe Alessi, offers traditional Tuscan cuisine with a modern touch.
Classic recipes are reinterpreted and adapted, adding an unexpected twist and original touch to each and every dish, which is what makes the restaurant such a unique and popular site for locals and tourists.
Has all that walking and city-seeing made you hungry? If you’d like a bite but don’t want to stop for long, these delicious Sicilian risotto balls may just be what you’re looking for!
Filled with cheese or ragù and coated in a thick layer of deep-fried risotto rice, arancini are a symbol of simple, nourishing Italian street food. For more Sicilian delights, check out our story on the most popular Sicilian foods.
Where to eat the best Arancini in Florence
La Casa di Marzapane
Arancini are undoubtedly one of the greatest classics of Casa di Marzapane, a Sicilian-specialized bakery and ice-cream shop. Friday is, or was, the traditional day when they would serve their specialty, but due to their popularity, they have had to up production and serve them on Tuesdays too!
So get there quick or you won’t find any more left!
Ristorante Arà: è Sud
Just as the name suggests, Arà is all about the culinary traditions of Southern Italy. A warm yet refined atmosphere: wooden interior with majolica on the walls, a wood-burning oven in the corner, and a lot of Arancini neatly displayed for hungry passersby.
All this is thanks to Chef Carmelo Pannocchietti, who wanted to introduce the locals to the flavors and aromas of his hometown, Modica, on the southern tip of Sicily.
8. Lo Zuccotto
If you’re feeling like something sweet, you’ll have to try the traditional dessert from Florence, a dome-shaped sponge cake made with whipped cream, ricotta and an aromatic pink liqueur. Legend has it that Zuccotto was the first ever semifreddo dessert in the history of Italian cuisine, created in honor of Catherine de’ Medici.
In fact, it continues to be of fundamental cultural importance. Last year the first edition of Lo Zuccotto Fiorentino, tra Tradizione e Modernità was launched with the aim of valorizing local gastronomic specialties. And amongst the top rated patisseries there was…
Where to eat the best Zuccotto in Florence
Da Quei Ganzi
Located in one of the main streets of the city centre, this osteria presents a zuccotto that is a truly renowned masterpiece! Served with a chocolate coulis or fresh whipped cream, their specialty truly is an ode to Italy’s longstanding dessert-making tradition!
If you’re wondering where to buy a takeaway zuccotto, then there’s nowhere better than Pasticceria Marisa. From fresh pastries, biscuits and multiple layered cakes to the most refined and exquisite patisserie, Marisa offers excellent Italian sweet delicacies, but the undisputed king of them all is undoubtedly zuccotto!
Why not go for a good old Tiramisù? A staple traditional dessert which never grows old, Tiramisù is a symbol of Italy’s century-old pastry-making heritage and is an all-time favorite that does, quite literally, lift you up!
Where to eat the best Tiramisù in Florence
Osteria di Giovanni
Located slightly north of the Arno river, Osteria di Giovanni is a well-known place to go when hit by a tiramisu craving. Just make sure you leave enough space for it because the portions are very generous!
Despite the anglophone name, Gino’s Bakery is an Italian Pasticceria that represents the country’s refined culinary expertise. Their mini tiramisù will get you hooked pretty quickly!
Nothing beats a cold and refreshing ice cream on a hot summer day! But when it comes to gelato, it’s a tough choice selecting the best one in town. But here are just a few of the most popular and authentic gelaterie.
Gelateria La Carraia
This ice-cream shop gets pole position for its use of natural, homemade ingredients, resulting in a softness of ice cream that quite literally melts in your mouth. Strictly recommended is the Delizia Carraia flavor, with white chocolate flakes and topped with an irresistible pistachio coulis.
Badiani is located near the stadium and is particularly known for its famous Buontalenti flavor, named after the 15th century Florentine architect who was believed to have invented ice cream. A painting inside recounts the story behind this flavor.
In 1970, all the gelaterie in town competed to see who could make an ice-cream good enough to honor the famous architect. The rich and creamy flavor Badiani came up with was clearly going to be the winner. Since then, many have tried to replicate it, but to this day you can only experience the incomparable flavor at Badiani’s.