Destinations,  Europe,  Italy

The Ultimate Guide to Dining in Florence

As one of the most beautiful and most-visited cities in Italy, Florence has more than its fair share of delicious Italian food. After nine months of living in the city center, I’ve visited more than my fair share of Florentine restaurants. Italian food is not for the carb-conscious or the traveler on a diet, but it’s for pretty much everyone else. Italy has definitely earned its reputation as one of the world’s top foodie destinations! Keep scrolling for my tried-and-true list of the best restaurants in Florence!

For some non-food related activities in Florence, check out my post The Best of Florence. And for some helpful vocab for ordering off Italian menus, head to my post When in Rome…EAT as the Romans Do!

Restaurants to Try

Il Gatto e La Volpe

Conveniently right around the corner from my apartment, Il Gatto e La Volpe is home to my favorite meal in Florence. Il filetto di manzo, or beef tenderloin, is covered in a savory, creamy cheese and walnut sauce. My suggestion: order it rare. But really, is there any other way to order steak?

Even if you’re not in it for the red meat , Il Gatto e La Volpe offers a large menu with tons of homemade pasta, pizza and lots of tasty Italian options to chose from. You’ll always be greeted with a basket of warm, homemade focaccia and the best balsamic crema in the city!

Filetto di Manzo Gorgonzola e Crema di Noci

Trattoria Anita

Trattoria Anita is tucked away in the windy alleys of the Santa Croce neighborhood and is a hidden gem of the Florence restaurant scene. It’s very affordable and, although you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, I’d suggest ordering the homemade pasta!*

On their last visit to Italy, I brought my grandparents to Trattoria Anita to try it for the first time. After a weeklong trip, my grandma still swears it was the best meal she’s ever had in Italy!

*Try the pici with sausage and mushrooms and penne with sausage and pecorini.

Petto di pollo alla Guelfa and Ravioli with butter and sage.

La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant

Pici pasta…served in a wheel of melted parmesan???? Say no more. Nowhere else would I spend €30 on a pasta dish but, with a thick layer of shaved truffle on top, it’s almost justifiable. The cacio e pepe wasn’t the only star of the show at La Buchetta! Their cheese gnocchi was another crowd favorite, covered in a mix of edible flowers and spicy peppers. Talk about an advanced palette!

Pici speciale, melanzane e insalata greca e gnocchi con fiori.

Trattoria Marione

In my experience, the one sure sign that a restaurant is going to blow your mind is when the waitlist is all Italians. Walking up to Trattoria Marione, whether it’s a Monday or Saturday night, there’s always a crowd of locals smoking and waiting to be seated. Only a few blocks from Piazza del Duomo, the handwritten menu* is full of homemade and heavenly Italian dishes. My visiting friends could not get enough of the pasta, one of them swears it was her favorite dish in Italy! You can find exquisite meals and amazing experiences at any of these restaurants, but Trattoria Marione is, in my opinion, the most authentically Florentine.

*You think I’m a sucker for a viewpoint? You should see me with a handwritten menu.

Chicken with roast potatoes and penne with meat sauce. And check out that decorative tableware!

Trattoria La Madia

Florence is full of great food just waiting to be discovered. Trattoria La Madia is an adorable, family-owned restaurant that I happened upon on my walk to the train station. I brought my grandparents here during their visit and everyone loved their dishes! I would definitely recommend trying the pesto gnocchi, it’s fluffy and rich at the same time and covered in a nutty, homemade pesto sauce.

Pici with porcini mushrooms and lasagna.
Petti di pollo panna & fungi and gnocchi with pesto and parmesan.

Osteria Santo Spirito

After hearing raving reviews from multiple coworkers on multiple different occasions, I finally decided it was time to cross the Arno and try out Osteria Santo Spirito for myself. I can honestly say it lived up to the hype. Although it may not be the place to go on a diet…the cheese and truffle gnocchi has to be one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had in Italy. They pile so much bubbling cheese on top that it browns into its own creamy layer by the time they bring it to the table.

If you’re planning on trying out Osteria Santo Spirito, make sure to call and make a reservation. They can fill up very quickly, especially on the weekends.

Gnocchi with cheese and truffle oil, cacio e pepe, spaghetti with garlic and tomatoes and spaghetti with garlic and chili peppers.

Trattoria La Casalinga

Another great find across the Arno, Trattoria La Casalinga is just steps from Piazza Santo Spirito. The interior is spacious, perfect for larger groups, and the staff is very friendly. Our meals were delicious: my half chicken was roasted to perfection and my friend’s filet was grilled with just the right amount of pink in the middle. The prices were affordable as well! A bottle of wine, appetizer, two entrees, one dessert and two aperitifs only set us back around €60.

Mozzarella di bufala with tomatoes.
Pollo arrosto con patate e filetto di manzo.

Cucina Torcicoda

It only took me a year of living across the street to finally try out Cucina Torcicoda. The restaurant has two sides: a budget-friendly pizzeria and the much higher end “Michelin Recommended” restaurant. Although the restaurant side is much pricier, the food is fantastic and so is the service. We ordered two of their fanciest steaks, both cooked to perfection, and two bottles of delicious Piedmont wine.

Filetto di angus Irlandese salsa alla senape.

Trattoria 4 Leoni

Across the Arno near Santo Spirito, Trattoria 4 Leoni had been on my restaurant bucket list for months. The menu is a bit expensive, but reasonable enough that it’s possible to dine there on a budget. The appetizers were delicious, although they were a bit small for the price. Make sure to order the burrata and proscuitto, it was our favorite dish on the menu!

The entrées were delicious as well, but I wouldn’t recommend ordering the Chianti. Although it was DOCG, it had a strong and not-so-pleasant aftertaste. The house wine was much better (and much more bang for your buck).

Melanzane parmigiano, antipasto Toscana, burrata e proscuitto.

Ristorante La Maremma

Located in the heart of Santa Croce, La Maremma is a tiny restaurant with a cozy and welcoming atmosphere! The dishes are very affordable, as well as the wine list, and everything on the menu is authentic and fresh. My personal favorite is the Straccetti di Pollo Tartufati in Cestino di Parmigiano, which translates to “chicken in cream sauce served in a a Parmesan basket.”

Trattoria Zà Zà

Did someone say truffle? Trattoria Zà Zà has an entire menu dedicated to the extravagant ingredient! Located only about a 10 minute walk from the city center, Trattoria Zà Zà’s popularity definitely warrants a reservation. There’s plenty of alternatives to chose from if you’re not the biggest fan of truffle oil, but if you are, get ready to be in flavor heaven. They pour it on everything, from bruschetta to pasta to chicken, and everything in between.

Pro tip: order the house wine. It’s affordable and unbelievably delicious!

Chicken with truffle sauce and potatoes.

Trattoria 13 Gobbi

Trattoria 13 Gobbi was where I had my first taste of bistecca alla fiorentina, Florence’s famous steak dish. Not only is it famous in the region but it’s also famously expensive…thankfully Gobbi 13’s prices were some of the best I’d seen at around €80 for three people. They also serve the best chocolate cake in Florence, so make sure to save room for dessert!

The restaurant itself has a great atmosphere and the staff are very friendly and helpful! Unfortunately everyone else in Florence agrees, so it’s best to make a reservation or you probably won’t get in.

Rigatoni with bufala & tomatoes, bistecca alla fiorentina cooked rare.

La Beppa Fioraia

A bit of a hike across the Arno, La Beppa Fioraia is definitely worth the walk. Make sure you arrive hungry because their antipasto is to die for. Their appetizer trays are piled high with local cheeses, meats, fresh fruit, mixed crostini, jams and honeys, grilled vegetables and much much more. Check out the amazing presentation below. Everything La Beppa Fioraia serves they serve with a flair!

Antipasto tray with cheese and cured meats.
Tuna crusted with sesame seeds.

Acqua al 2

The original restaurant was opened in Florence 1978 and was so beloved that another location was opened in Washington DC a full 30 years later. Around the corner from Piazza di Santa Croce, Acqua al 2 is a popular hangout for Bus2alps employees. Their burrata and proscuitto is hard to beat and there’s something on the menu for everyone, even if it’s slightly on the pricier side.

Proscuitto Toscana con burrata.
Gran piatto di verdure alla griglia and filetto all’aceto balsamico di moderna.

Trattoria San Lorenzo

Tucked away on a side street off the Duomo, Trattoria San Lorenzo is the perfect spot to grab lunch or an aperitivo and do some people watching! Since it’s in the heart of Florence, the prices aren’t quite as cheap as some of the restaurants on this list, but still by no means expensive. You’ll also be only a short distance away from Florence’s famous leather market, so go do some shopping after lunch!

Polpette e pure.
Pollo alla cacciatora con funghi, peperoni & olive and crostini with sausage and stacchino.

Note di Vino

Note di Vino is a tiny enoteca in the Santa Croce neighborhood with a killer antipasto and no shortage of tasty vino! This is my favorite place for afternoon drinks and a quick bite to eat, but mostly in the summer months. They have a small inside seating area, but most of the tables are outside. Their antipasto is stuffed with sweet berries, cured meats, creamy cheeses and homemade bread, washed down with an ice-cold Aperol spritz.

All’antico Vinaio

You may have heard the name All’antico Vinaio, as this sandwich shop is famous, not only in Florence, but around the world. Tourists and locals alike wait in hour-long lines just to try one of their extraordinary creations. However, you’ll have much better luck if you try it at a random time (I went at 10AM and only had to wait a couple minutes).

So is the hype worth it? The answer is a resounding YES. I tried La Claudiana stuffed with sausage, truffle cream, tomatoes, spicy eggplant and mozzarella (I substituted gorgonzola for fresh mozzarella). I can honestly say I’ve never had a panino as delicious or as fresh as All’antico Vinaio. Probably the only panino I would ever wait an hour for!

Pino’s

If you’re looking for a quick and delicious lunch in the heart of Florence, look no further than Pino’s. Right around the corner from Santa Croce, their sandwiches are served on fluffy focaccia and stuffed with the freshest meats, cheeses and Italian veggies. Pino owns the store with his family so the shop has a cozy, welcoming atmosphere!

Homemade panino with brie, truffle, proscuitto, eggplant, tomatoes and lettuce served on toasted focaccia.

Il Vivandiere

Another hidden gem of Florence, Il Vivandiere is a great place for a light dinner or some yummy appetizers and vino. They serve the best charcuterie boards in Florence, filled with the typical local cheeses and cured meats, but also some atypical ingredients, like shaved pumpkin and wild boar. The best part of Il Vivandiere? Wine. On. Tap. Need I say more?

Burrata with shaved pumpkin and raw bacon.

Ristorante la Grotta Guelfa

La Grotta Guelfa is another trendy restaurant in the city center. A few blocks down from Piazza della Repubblica, they serve a long list of heavenly Italian wines, creamy pasta dishes and thick Florentine steaks. I would definitely suggest ordering the pasta with bleu cheese*, there are plenty of variations on the menu.

*Try the Ravioli au gratin with bleu cheese and the bleu cheese risotto.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Tavernetta della Signoria

Homemade pasta? Sign me up. Although you would assume that all pasta served in Italian restaurants is homemade, unfortunately this is not always the case. Tavernetta della Signoria has a whole menu dedicated to homemade pasta dishes and, believe me, you can taste the difference. The tiny restaurant is located a few blocks away from Piazza di Santa Croce and, in addition to serving mouthwatering dishes, has a very affordable menu.

Cacio e pepe and gnocchi al gorgonzola, rucola e noci.

Il Teatro

Another restaurant frequented by Bus2alps staff, Il Teatro is one of my go-to restaurants around Florence. I’ve tried many different dishes on their menu, and have never been disappointed!

A company favorite is the coccoli antipasto. Coccoli is a fried dough ball, basically a savory doughnut, served with proscuitto and stracchino cheese sauce. Coccoli are so filling you may not need to order an entrée at all!

Seafood risotto, gnocchi with gorgonzola and arugula, gnocchi with tomato sauce.

Gustapizza

Looking for the best Neapolitan pizza in Florence? Look no further than Gustapizza. A tiny little shop with a few rickety tables and a short, handwritten menu, Gustapizza has a solid reputation for their amazing, fresh-from-the-oven pizzas. My personal favorite is the Calabrese topped with melted mozzarella, crispy, spicy salami and fresh basil. If you’re looking for an extra kick, ask for the spicy oil to drizzle on top.

Calabrese-mozzarella, spicy salami and basil.

Gelateria La Carraia

Last but not least…gelato time! When it comes to gelato in Florence, the winner is clear. La Carraia has by far the best flavors in town and all of them are sweet, creamy and delicious. My favorites are peanut butter and cookies!

These are only a few of the incredible dining options that Florence has to offer. Most of the places on this list are great options to fill your belly with tasty cuisine, without emptying your wallet. If you have any budget-friendly recommendations for me, leave a comment below!

And if you’re planning on seeing more of Italy, check out my related posts A Beginner’s Guide to the Amalfi Coast, 24 Hours in Milan, The Best of Florence, When in Rome…EAT as the Romans Do and A Guide to the Best Sights in Rome!

As always, thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow my adventures on Instagram @madisonsfootsteps.

xoxo.

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