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Often the proportion of tourists in a city corresponds inversely with the quality of the food. Not so in Florence, where restaurants, trattorie and cafes turn out delicous regional food with pride. It's hard to find a bad meal.
Tuscan specialities to try:
Crostini: Toasts of bread with a topping, often chicken liver spread
Ribollita: "reboiled" bread, bean and vegetable soup
Bistecca Fiorentina: T-bone steak
Taverna De' Neri
via de Neri 37 / r50122 Firenze 055 287252
A great place to eat and wonderful service. A True taste of Tuscan style cooking - fantastic and great value for money. The resaturant is tucked away in Via de Neri but less than 5 minutes from the centre so well worth the short stroll - youll need a longer stroll afterwards to walk off your dinner - even the tourist menu portions looked substantial.
This is a a family run restaurant and the sign says english spoken - which it is by the son who works the day shift. In the evening - the Maitre D is Mum who's version of english is faster Italian than loud english! - have a ball of a good time !!
If staying in Florence - try this one - its great.
Al Lume Di Candela - Via dei Terme 23r, Firenze, Italia. Open Hours12p-2:30p, 7:30p-11:30p M-Sa. This restaurant is located in Via dei Terme which is between Via Roma and Via Tornabuoni so you can easily get there from Piazza Repubblica. This is a wonderful, amazing restaurant. It is the best kept secret in Florence because many people do not know it is even there. From the outside, one might not even notice it is a restaurant, but once you walk in, you literally feel like you are in a delicately and lavishly decorated room in a Renaissance palace. It is a small restaurant, but very elegant in its presentation. The service is amazing. The waiter did not put the wine bottle on the table and watched with care when glasses need to be refilled. The dinner is served on silver place settings. It is simply amazing from ambiance to food. It is difficult finding a restaurant like this in Florence. Most restaurants are pretty loud and crowded. If you want an intimate evening or just one in which you feel you are royalty without paying a lot of money, then eat here!
Trattoria Garga: You won't find this in guide books, but you will find it here! Fun place, great food, great and entertaining waiters. Definitely the place to be and be seen. The pasta Magnifico (with orange and mint) is not to be missed, nor is the "best cheesecake in the world." Cooking classes are also held here if you're so inclined. http://www.garga.it/trattoria-1.html (Via del Moro, 48 R.)
Trattoria Cibreo: the low-cost, no-reservations sibling of the city's best restaurant, Cibreo. It's around the corner from the main restaurant. Get there earlier than the Italians (8 or 8:30, whenever it opens) and you should be fine. Along with delicious soups and entrees (they don't do pasta) they had delicious chocolate and cheesecake desserts. Cafe Cibreo across the way has light meals and desserts.
Osteria De'Benci, Via de'Benci 13r: They have a unusual pasta cooked in red wine, and delicious rabbit.
Trattoria Marione: another good unpretentious place
La pentola dell'Oro Osteria (www.lapentoladelloro.it) on Via di Mezzo at Via dei Pepi--excellent twists on traditional Tuscan food. The chef Giuseppi Alessi has even published a well known cooking book in Italian. A great downstairs dining room provides a cool respite from the summer heat in a renaissance era room.
Trattoria Za-Za (Piazza del Mercato Central, 26r): Near Train Terminal, a place where locals go. Covered outdoor seating and castle-like interior seating. Always ask for Tourist Menu (when in other restaurants too). 3-courses for 20 Euros (June, 2006). Serving portions are more than usual. Excellent cooking, friendly servers even when busy. Great for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.
Vivoli, Via Isola delle Stinche: the best gelato in the city. It's hard to find, but do look for it so you can go every day.
Cafe Rivoire, Pizza della Signoria (one of the city's main piazzas): one of the world's top hot chocolate spots. Like all cafes in Italy, it costs less (a lot less in scenic places like this one) to stand at the bar rather than sit at a table.
Trattoria Anita is a wonderful place located on Via del Parlascio. For only 6 Euros you get a primi, secondi, and contorni. There are several choices per each course, and the food is very good. The service is excellent and the trattoria has a wonderful atmosphere filled with both tourists and locals alike. Truly a great find in Florence.
Osteria Pepo, Via Rosina (just around the corner from Za-Za) is a fantastic place. The service is friendly and the food is excellent. You would be better to book. Recommended is the marinaded mackerel and the fried bread with cheese and ham for antipasti, and for the main course the chicken and rabbit with vegetables in a light batter. For pudding, the chocolate torte is delicious and mouthwatering.
Ristorante Cafaggi, Via Guelfa, 35r. Just off San Gallo. A real locals' restaurant. No menu in English but they do help you to understand the menu. Don't be put off by the decor which is dated. The restaurant is own and ran by a lovely elderly couple. It appears to be a family run place. The food is hot. Recommended is the pasta with mussels and clams. Finish your meal off with a glass of Limoncello. A delightful place.
Pilipepe, Via San Nicolo. Brush up on your Italian because the tourists haven't yet found this sophisticated but cozy little place in Oltrarno. Wonderful, Tuscan-inspired creations like roasted pigeon with red wine reduction and figs, or sweetbreads braised in butter and finished with roasted almonds. There may be a bit of a northeastern Austro-Italian influence in the kitchen, as many dishes are prepared with butter rather than the ubiquitous olive oil preferred in Tuscany. The wine list is solid and offers a number of good values from several regions of Italy. Go ahead and live a little - this place is worth a splurge.
Trattoria-Osteria da Que' Ganzi, Via Ghibellina (70r), Santa Croce. Specializing in meat and fish (but certainly giving due attention to its pasta, antipasti and desserts as well - all pasta, bread and desserts are homemade), this quaint, off-the-beaten-path Tuscan kitchen, like some of the others listed above, is still under the radar of the tourist crowd, but after only five months has certainly caught the attention of locals in the know. You will not hear anything but Italian spoken at the surrounding tables but the staff speaks decent enough English to provide warm and excellent service and recommendations from the menu. The prices are incredibly reasonable - a four or five course meal with wine and vinsanto is easily less than 80 euros. Recommended are the pici, a homemade pasta unique to the Tuscan region, similar to spaghetti but with larger circumference, and the bistecca alla fiorentina (florentine steak), served by the kg in a 1 kg portion (more than enough for two to share) or more. Open year-round (even in August). www.daqueiganzi.it