A travel journal
to Florence by Stella
Quote: It goes without saying that the food in Florence is a work of art rivalling that of Botticelli and Rafael. Here is a selection of some of the best places to sample Tuscan cuisine.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 27, 2001
Restaurant La Spada
Via Della Spada 15
Restaurant | "La Giostra "
Feel free to take as long as you like to finish your meal; the chef will walk around to suggest a dessert liquor or ask how you enjoyed the wine. After your meal, La Giostra will call you a taxi. While you wait, don't be surprised if you enjoy a free glass of champagne offered by one of the cute waiters...
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 22, 2001
Borgo Pinti, 12r
+39 (055) 241-341
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 22, 2001
Via Stracciatella, 9R
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on August 20, 2001
Piazza Madonna Aldobrandini 11/r
That is what I wrote a few days after September 11th, when I was crying over a much-coveted copy of the International Herald Tribune and trying to calm myself by sipping chamomile in the sun. I was in a bad mood. I didn't yet realize why the tourist prices were so well-deserved.
Giubbe Rosse is one of the few places in Florence where you can sit down surrounded by the progressive crowd, modern art, history and a killer apertivo or cup of chamomile. After the initial romance of anything renaissance wears off, you'll realize how valuable this really is.
Giubbe Rosse, or the red jackets, was the meeting place and breeding ground for revolutionaries against communism whose slogan, marciare non marcire (or march, don't rot), can still be found printed on postcards at the back of the cafe. Besides the intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries who've graced these walls, there is an excellent photography exhibit on the September 11th attacks in New York.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 17, 2001
Piazza della Repubblica
Restaurant | "Don’t Miss Osteria Il Buongustai"
More innovative dishes at Osteria Il Buongustai include the crepes filled with Gorgonzola, honey and dried fruit or the crepes with nutella, that favorite chocolate hazlenut spread, as a light snack. The dinner menu features homemade gnocchi with fresh tomatoes and mozarella, taglierini in a truffle crème sauce, penne with tuna fish and tomatoes, the excellent zuppa al farro or second dishes like broiled meat and tripe.
Arrive early to grab one of the five wooden tables, a stool and the attention of the friendly cook/waitress who’ll try her best to understand your English. For ambiance, enjoy crème colored walls and vaulted ceilings, brick and stone arches, various bottles of Chianti lined along the walls, soft music and an open-air kitchen. Closed Sunday.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 5, 2001
Osteria Il Buongustai
Via dei Cerchi, 15r
055 291 304
Restaurant | "Cafetteria Piansa for Lunch"
Walk to the back of the restaurant to select from four different pasta or rice dishes, salads, omelettes and meat platters. A generous helping of white bean soup, pasta alla norma (a Sicilian pasta dish with eggplant, salted ricotta and tomatoes), truffle ravioli, artichoke risotto or penne in a hazlenut sauce will each run you about four USD. The salads and large omelettes, usually made with spinach and topped with quartered fresh tomatoes and melted Brie or Gorgonzola, cost six-seven USD, as do the salmon and steak platters. A basket of fresh Tuscan bread, olive oil and vinegar can be brought to the table, while drinks are ordered at the bar.
Excellent food and a cozy atmosphere at reasonable prices make Cafetteria Piansa one of my number one suggestions for the budget traveler.
The manager ensures us that only the freshest ingredients are used, and that only local herbs and olive oil are needed to dress up the fish, meat and pasta dishes. He's right.
The house specialty, spaghetti topped with tomatoes, olive oil and melted Parmesan cheese, then garnished with crushed red pepper, is simple yet robust in its taste. Don't miss the uncommonly tender braseola served with roasted artichokes, eggplant and potatoes. Finally, the mint panna cotta drizzled with hot chocolate is a perfect finish to the meal.
Portions are American-style, hence the large ceramic plates, so either pasta or meat is enough for lunch. The wines come from San Gimignano and can be ordered by the glass.
Visit Tre Merli online, and view photos of the interior, here.
Via del Moro 11/R
055 28 70 62
Restaurant | "Beccofino: Too Cool for You?"
Beccofino is fresh seafood, elegant wines and a sophisticated atmosphere.
Finely sliced shrimp swirled over a tomato and pesto sauce, a tower of octopus and cuttlefish rising above seasoned olive oil or ravioli stuffed with codfish are some of the tempting first courses. For a second, try the filet mignon grilled with orange grinds or the sea bass with potato, onion and zucchini mash.
The list of Beccofino wines does more than compliment your meal. Over fifty blends (luckily you can order by the glass) are served with the utmost gusto and can be enjoyed more exclusively along with lighter dishes and appetizers at the wine bar.
New music compositions, including jazz and some house, including some of the best CD collections from restaurants and hotels around Europe, add yet another flavor to an unforgettable night.
Note to traditionalists:
If traditional Tuscan fare or hearty portions is what you’re after, try La Giostra on Borgo Pinti.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on October 23, 2001
Piazza degli Scarlatti 1R
055 290 076
Restaurant | "Caffe Italiano"
The lunch menu changes daily but don’t be surprised to find consistently delicious and healthy specials. Tomato salads, porcini mushroom omelet’s and lasagna dressed in béchamel sauce are just some of the dishes served while I was there.
Downstairs, you’ll find an assortment of pastries and pie slices to finish your meal.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 11, 2002
Via della Condotta, 56r
Florence, Italy 50122
Baldovino offers classic Tuscan dishes like crespelle (stuffed crepe-like pasta folded and baked with béchamel sauce) and crostini al fegato (toasted slices of Tuscan bread topped with chicken liver pate`). Also to try is the sliced bistecca fiorentina topped with fresh rucola and thick shavings of parmesan cheese.
Their other specialty is seafood and the spaghetti with shrimp, octopus and mussels is a must. Pizza is made Neapolitan-style and inventive salads are enough for a meal. Finally, don’t miss the amazing Tiramisu, served warm.
Via San Giuseppe, 22r
Florence, Italy 50121
Since this restaurant is also a well-stocked wine bar, you can choose either a bottle or glass from over fifty local labels. Also try a pot of tea from their menu of exotic blends.
Villa delle Oche 15r
055 230 21 53
Pasta and rice salads, plus sides like vegetables and focaccias, are also available for lunch.
Via del Corso 36r
Restaurant | "The Fusion Bar"
The sushi offered here is first-class: soft, tasty and thick. Presentation is just as important in the preparation of the food as are the ingredients used. Soup is presented in a glass cylinder bowl with fresh Gerbera daisies inside, oils and sauces are kept in test tubes on each table and all the shrimp and rice are arranged in creative and unique styles.
The main thing to know about dining here is that all dishes are a product of a fusion philosophy to cooking- combining Asian and Italian ingredients and cooking styles to create surprisingly delicious new tastes. Try the green tea tiramisu or the miso soup with cannelloni beans.
The Fusion Bar at Lugarno Suites Hotel
Vicolo Dell'oro 26r
Italians aren’t afraid of meat and no part of the animal is wasted. Besides the usual sausage, steak, chop and filet you’ll find specialties that are not for the faint of heart. Tripe, the white intestines of cow, and skinned rabbits with their head and eyes intact lay beside whole chicken, hen, large chunks of beef, pigs feet, cow tongue, liver, boar, and stomach. Down south, horsemeat is also eaten but here in Florence, that didn’t seem to be as popular.
Upstairs you can smell bunches of freshly cut basil, oregano and sage without even bending down near to them. Heavy bunches of green and purple grapes, tiny strawberries and blueberries, oversized pumpkin and squash, green and black olives, dried fruits and nuts and endless other bright colors and earthy smells fill the air. The vendors know each fruit and vegetable intimately so don’t be afraid to ask which ones are sweet or bitter, hard or soft and what region it was plucked from.
TIP: Don’t handle the fruit or vegetables. Just tell the vendor what you want and trust his judgement.
The Mercato Centrale is great for picnics, photos and meeting the locals. Bring plenty of small bills, as you are sure to be tempted by some of the freshest meat and produce around.
Inside the San Lorenzo central market (in Via dell'Ariento)
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