When it comes to food and drink, Italy’s incredible richness means you’re spoiled for choice. After all these years of living in Florence, I am still amazed by what this small, quaint city has too offer.
One major reason for Italy’s abundance is its perfect terrain and temperature, which allows the area to grow seasonal products, and produce some of the world’s best wine and extra virgin olive oil (aka liquid gold!). But the perfect terrain isn’t the only reason — it also has to do with the locals. When it comes to food in Italy, we like to eat locally, seasonally and regionally. Florence still has a major local scene, with many Florentines living in the historical centre.
Luckily, you can still eat and drink like a local. Here are some of my favourite cafes, bars, restaurants, street food stalls and bakeries you can find in Florence.
Coccole Cioccolato offers a delicious selection of chocolates you can enjoy with a coffee or tea at the bar. Owner David Berlotti also teaches at Mama. If you really need that chocolate fix, be sure to try their incredible selection of hot chocolate. Via de’Ginori 55/57r, Firenze.
This cafe and bar is in the category of the ‘Esercizi Storici di Firenze,’ a certification given by the commune of Florence to any commercial practice that has been in business for a minimum of 50 years. Caffe Sabatino is the perfect stop for a morning cappuccino, light lunch or drink. The cafe is still using historical local coffee brand Mokamag, which has been around since 1875. Via Faenza 68r, Firenze.
The oldest cafe in Florence has that traditional charm. I love standing at Caffe Gilli’s bar around aperitivo time to watch the barristas making cocktails with fresh fruit and delicious flavours. A great place to people-watch. The outdoor seating is as comfortable as it gets in one of the main squares in Florence. Perfect for morning cappuccino, sweet or savoury snacks, take-home Florentine products and aperitivo. Piazza della Repubblica 39r 50123, Firenze.
I often crave a panino from Casa del Vino. Their burrata, tomato, caper and oregano 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 8:30pm on Friday and Saturday. Via dell’Argento 16r 50123, Firenze.
Procacci has been serving its petit-truffle panino with a glass of Prosecco since 1885. Have a fabulous glass of Tignanello, Solaia, Pian della Vigne or Bocca di Lupoecc, or choose from a vast selection of wine direct from the owners’ wine estates. The wine bar also serves a light lunch, although Procacci is primarily the perfect spuntino’ (snack stop) or aperitivo. If you are a Virgin Mary lover, be sure to try their version. Open every day until 9pm. Via dei Tornabuoni 64/r 50123, 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 try a seasonal first course with a glass of table Chianti wine. Open daily for lunch until 2 pm. Inside the Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze.
SandwiChic is a delightful new panino shop that serves delicious warm and freshly made panino or schiacciata, with local salumi, cheese and other fabulous flavours. Perfect table wine for only €1 per glass, along with cheap and delicious lunches. Via San Gallo 3/r 50129, Firenze
Snack Bar Anna serves great coffee, using local coffee brand Mokarico. This lovely 1950s bar also offers bagels with yummy, fresh fillings. The owners have been making bagels for over 17 years, and it’s one of the best bagels I’ve ever tasted! Originally, the bakers at Snack Bar Anna were based in the quaint town of Poggio a Caiano. Via de’Ginori 26, 50123 Firenze.
Without a doubt, Pank is one of the top bakeries in the city. Baker David Bedu only uses a sourdough starter and stone-ground grain. Pank serves French desserts and pastries, San Lorenzo loafs, and curry-flavoured baguettes using Molino Grifoni grain from Arezzo. Be sure to taste Bedu’s pizza by the slice! Top floor Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze.
My favourite time to visit Top Forno is in the morning. 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, and focaccia breads with gorgonzola and pear. During the festive season, Maurizio makes traditional cakes, including Panettone, all made to order. His Panforte and Panpepato is to die for and made with honey from a biodynamic farm in the Casentino. Open all day Monday through Saturday. Via della Spada 23/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. Via S.Gallo 1/r, 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 La Pizzeria — they have upstairs seating and full service, where you can choose from their four pizzas, including a true Pizza Napolitana. Top floor Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze.
Obicà Mozzarella Bar describes in Neapolitan dialect, “something that is happening right in front of your eyes.” The brains behind the first mozzarella bar is Silvio Orsini, who sources the best DOP CAMPANA mozzarella di bufala, stracciatella from Puglia and other slow food products. 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. Via de’ Tornabuoni 16, 50123 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 or fish and chips with a glass of sparkling wine. The owners are real characters and you’ll enjoy this perfect street food flavour. Inside the Mercato Centrale San Lorenzo, Firenze.
There are two location of Colle Bereto. One is inside Strozzi Palace, which is great for a morning cappuccino or to sit in the outdoor 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 personalities. In the morning you can enjoy breakfast and great coffee. This location is also ideal for a light lunch serving raw fish, salads and pasta dishes. Aperitivo time in the evening is perfect for a younger crowd. Buffet snacks included with €10 cocktails. Wine is mostly from the Colle Bereto Estate situated in Chianti. Open until late. Strozzi Palace and Piazza Strozzi, 5r Firenze.
On the pretty street known as ‘The street of the beautiful women’ is this quaint Osteria delle Belle Donne. The entrance looks as though you are not going to be able to fit in to the restaurant. However, when you arrive inside, you’re greeted by the lovely owner and seated in a charming dining room. A great place to enjoy typical Florentine delights. Their pasta dishes are a favourite. Via delle Belle Donne, 16/R, 50123 Firenze.
How can you go wrong dining inside the Antinori’s family home in the pretty square named after the Marchesi? Cantinetta Antinori is traditional, has great atmosphere and features very elegant dining. Piazza Antinori 3, 50123 Firenze.
When I feel like a bistecca alla Fiorentina, I go to my butcher and cook it at home. However, if you are visiting, this isn’t possible. So the next best alternative is Buca Lapi. Bistecca alla Fiorentina is not cheap, so if you see it on a menu for under EUR 40, it is not going to be the real deal. The meat is from an ancient breed of cow called ‘Chianina.’ The price is high because there are strict farming laws. At Buca Lapi, expect to pay up to €100 for a real bistecca alla Fiorentina. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. The restaurant is ideally situated underneath the Noble Palace of the Antinori. Via del Trebbio 1/r, 50123 Firenze.
I did prefer the look for the Rosticceria before it was renovated, although the meats are still excellent. Just around the corner is a takeaway rotisserie where you can buy a selection of grilled meats with vegetables. Via della Spada 62 r, 50123 Firenze.
This gorgeous, elegant-looking restaurant is in a great location. Giovanni and his daughter are lovely hosts serving true Florentine cuisine of handmade pasta and quality meats. Giovanni is a ‘latini’ — the family of an historical Florentine butcher. His brother runs I Latini in Florence and L’Osteria di Giovanni is the more local version of I Latini. Via del Moro 22, 50123 Firenze.
I cannot say enough about Belcore. Every year it’s rated as one of the best restaurants in Florence by the Michelin Guide. The concept involves Japanese chefs cooking the most delicious traditional and contemporary Florentine dishes. The wine list is one of the best in Florence and Belcore is one of those rare restaurants where both the meat and fish are fantastic. Via del Albero.