So one thing you may not know is that although I grew up in Milan, Florence is actually the city in Italy that I know best. When I was a junior in college I decided to take advantage of the abroad semester and returned to Italy to study food, wine and art history. After all, what better place in the world is there to focus on these subjects than in the birthplace of the Renaissance?!
During my time there it’s safe to say that my life was consumed by pizza and pasta (wait I think it still might be) and eating out every night was the standard routine. As a college student living in Florence, there are tons of tourist traps that you fall into – and not all are actually bad. Returning this year after not having been in 7 years I had a certain level of nostalgia that pulled me back to all my favorite spots. Antico Noe, for their paninis, Gusto for their pizza, La Giostra for the atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, I still love all these spots and I think I will always visit them anytime I am back in Florence. This time around though, with my blog and my two besties that had never been to Italy, I really wanted to have them experience a more authentic side of Italy. I wanted to take them to some restaurants where the waiters and owners didn’t speak a lick of English, and I think I hit the jackpot. Here’s my list of restaurants that I highly recommend if you’re visiting Florence for a few days, both touristy and more known by the locals.
Trattoria Dall’ Oste
If you can only go to one restaurant while you’re in Florence, this is it. Trattoria Dall’ Oste is the perfect example of what Italian hospitality is really all about. Their dishes are unparalleled and the overall experience we had was something I will never forget. Although there’s no shortage of pizza and pasta in Florence, what they are most famous for is their Bistecca Fiorentina, aka their Florentine steak. Trattoria Dall’ Oste is known for being the best steakhouse in Florence, with an emphasis on featuring the highest quality Italian meat: Chianina, Marchigiana and Romagnola as well as the more known international selections, Kobe and Black Angus. We had the pleasure of meeting Carmine, Raffaele and Nicolo, who walked us through each dish and provided wine pairings as well as explanations of how they sourced their ingredients. The level of importance and care in each detail, from the silver wear, to the wine box mural, was remarkable and truly elevated the dining experience that much more.
Here are some (not all) of the dishes we tried. By the end of the night we practically needed to be carried home.
Fried pizza dough balls (coccoli) with crescenza cheese - this was AMAZING. I would have eaten the whole plate if I could have. Soft and fluffy with the warm cheese was perfection.
Cured raw beef carpaccio di chianina with arugula, sliced parmesan and fresh shaved black truffle
I wish I had a better photo of this but this is fresh Tagliolini pasta ai funghi porcini with fresh black truffle. In the back (blurry) is the potato tortelli with wild boar ragu. THIS WAS SO GOOD! One of my favorites but then again I am a sucker for wild boar sauce.
Bistecca alla Fiorentina!! Obviously the first one is raw - but they did cook it very rare (second photo), which was delicious. This was also Chianina.
Filet with black truffle sauce on a parmesan crisp bed. - INCREDIBLE! This was Kelly and Michaela's favorite. The meat was so lean and smothered in a light but robust flavored sauce.
And for the final dish... chocolate tart with black truffle. As you may have noticed, there was a strong theme of black truffle throughout the course. The mission was to incorporate it in every dish but still maintain the foods integraty and not just add it for the sake of adding it. The chefs truly experimented and out of their 'food lab' we had one extraordinary meal after the other.
This is an awesome option if you A. want pizza in Florence (duh who doesn't) B. need a quick break from exploring, C. want a scenic scene D. people watch.... so, no brainer right?
Not only that but they have an entire menu that's GLUTEN FREE and DAIRY FREE! You heard me right, gluten free in Italy! Shocker. I opted for the gluten, Bufala pizza but my friend Michaela had a gluten free pie that she loved. Cheers to that!
There's nothing better than combining everything you love about a dining experience into a place that truly honors that: delicious food, an irreplaceable view and staff that will easily become your friends.
Our last night in Florence we had a late night and got back to the apartment around 1am STARVING. We had a craving for pizza so of course called on our friends at MisterPizza and tried their late night delivery. It came 20 minutes later and was as delicious as when we had it in the restaurant. I highly recommend it!
La Cantinetta di Rignaga Ristorante (the most magical place on Earth)
If you go to Italy and you want to do a wine tasting, you HAVE to go to Chianti. There's something about sprawling acres upon acres of vineyards that make me so happy and feel so peaceful. Tucked away in the hills there's this hidden gem of a restaurant that gives you the most magnificent views and has the most incredible food and wine.
The views from the restaurants - incredible
Stuffed mezzi luna with a truffle sauce - oh my God these were amazing! Very light and tender pasta with the most incredible flavor.
Mixed Crostini - all incredibly fresh and delicious and paired perfectly with our Chianti wine.
If you want to do a wine tour through the Tuscan hills while you're in Italy but don't know where to start, I would highly recommend booking a tour with Walk About Florence. Our instructor Martina was so knowledgeable and the whole tour was perfectly planned and well thought out. It was not only a wine tasting but olive oil tasting as well which was so much fun.
Osteria dei Benci
This little restaurant is in Florence right by Piazza Santa Croce. It's the classic Italian restaurant where every recipe is from the Nonna who runs the kitchen in the back. The owner, Marco, told us the sweetest story of how she ran the restaurant for 23 years and kept a tight kitchen. The menu was fairly classic - most Florentine restaurants have the classic dishes, wild boar sauce, steak Florentine, etc. so we opted for something a little different for our last night.
Oven roasted chicken with potatoes. Flavor was delicious and the potatoes were perfect. Some parts of the chicken were a little dry but still really great flavor.
Drunken spaghetti in a red wine sauce - this was delicious and really hit the spot. A very subtle kick to it that really enhanced the dish.
We visited tons of other restaurants and I am happy to provide more recommendations, comment below and let me know if you have any questions on where to go on your next trip!