Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
Light lunches, snacks, and sandwiches; medieval brick-vault interior with contemporary decorative touches; mixed clientele of shoppers, elderly locals, and students. Closed Sundays. Via della Vigna Nuova 63R; tel. 39 055 284 941.
“Hunker down here with market traders and shoppers for the most authentic—and least expensive—food in Florence.”—Lee Marshall, contributing editor, Time Out Guides editor. In business since 1872 at the heart of the main city market; offers an immutable menu of simple Florentine specialties. Closed Sundays. Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo; tel. 39 055 219 949.
Alla Vecchia Bettola
“A wonderful throwback to the Florentine trattorias of old; the carpaccio is melt-in-the-mouth superb.”—Anne Hanley, editor, Time Out Guide to Florence & the Best of Tuscany. Hearty Tuscan home cooking; rustic dining room with tile walls and hanging fruit and hams. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and several days in August. Oltrarno location in San Frediano neighborhood. Via Vasco Pratolini 357; tel. 39 055 224 158.
Modern classic has transformed Florence’s dining scene; informal setting and contemporary food; full meals plus Neapolitan-style pizza. Closed Mondays from November-March. Via San Giuseppe 22R; tel. 39 055 241 773.
Cantinetta dei Verrazzano
Takeout snacks, cakes, panini, and sandwiches; excellent value; light meals also available at tables to the rear; convenient for main Via dei Calzaiuoli. Closed Sundays. Via dei Tavolini 18–20R; tel. 39 055 268 590.
Osteria de’ Benci
Vibrant and informal restaurant near Santa Croce; vaulted medieval interior, but with contemporary edge and friendly young staff; good for lunch or dinner; Tuscan classics such as zuppa di verdura (vegetable soup) and agnello scottaditto (grilled lamb). Closed Sundays and several days in August. Via de’ Benci 13R; tel. 39 055 234 4923.
Il Santo Bevitore
“Simple trattoria offering great-value Tuscan food with a creative edge.”—Lee Marshall. One of the revamped neighborhood restaurants in the Oltrarno leading the way in Florence’s culinary Renaissance. Closed Sundays at lunch and several days in August. Via Santo Spirito 64-66R; tel. 39 055 211 264.
“The best bistecca alla fiorentina in the city and great wines from the famous Antinori vineyards.”—Luca Finardi, general manager, Hotel Helvetia & Bristol. Florence’s oldest restaurant, founded in 1880; vaulted dining rooms, some with frescoes, and a wealth of old posters and newspaper clippings on the walls. Dinner only on weekdays. Closed Sundays. Via del Trabbio 1R; tel. 39 055 213 768. www.bucalapi.com
Osteria del Caffè Italiano
“Don’t be fooled by the humble-sounding ‘osteria’ tag: You can have light snacks and a glass of wine (there is a stand-out wine list), but also full meals of classic Tuscan dishes.”—Fiona Duncan. Located just west of Santa Croce; three restrained medieval dining rooms form part of the 14th-century Palazzo Salviati; lots of exposed beams, terra-cotta floors, and wooden cabinets. Closed Mondays. Via Isola delle Stinche 11; tel. 39 055 289 020. www.caffeitaliano.it
Florentine classics—try the soup-like pappa al pomodoro and the steak cooked with balsamic vinegar—served in beautiful frescoed dining rooms; decor evokes 14th-century Gothic Florence; convenient central location between Piazza della Signoria and Piazza del Duomo. Via dei Tavolini 12R; tel. 39 055 216 215.
Trattoria Quattro Leoni
Medieval stone walls and vast beams in the dining rooms offset by splashes of contemporary art; classic Tuscan cooking and winning location on a tiny square in the Oltrarno. Via dei Vellutini 1R–Piazza della Passera; tel. 39 055 218 562.
Old World trattoria that has become rather chic; best of several options around the city’s main food market; dark, stone wall, brick vault dining room; outside dining in summer; à la carte or set menus offer no-nonsense Florentine cuisine. Closed August. Piazza del Mercato Centrale 26R; tel. 39 055 215 411. www.trattoriazaza.it
“A temple to traditional Tuscan cuisine (but with a creative edge); foodie-favorite with a regularly changing menu.”—Lee Marshall. Rustic chic setting; young, enthusiastic service; also offers a café, and cheaper, rather spartan trattoria next door. Book at least a week in advance. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and several days in August. Via Andrea del Verrocchio 8R; tel. 39 055 234 1100.
Formal, almost austere dining room; elaborate, expensive menu may include a main fish course of sea bass with dry fruit and raisins, Treviso (radicchio) salad, and Nutella with deep-fried brioche. Service is immaculate. Closed Sundays, Mondays, and three weeks in August. Dinner only Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Via Ghibellina 87; tel. 39 055 242 777.
Relative newcomer that has already garnered a Michelin star; glorious setting on the first floor of Palazzo Gianfigliazzi close to Ponte Vecchio. Fabulous melanzane croccanti alla parmigiana (eggplant with parmesan) and some sumptuous desserts. Closed Wednesdays. Lungarno Corsini 4; tel. 39 055 239 9224. http://florencerestaurants.it/en/Terrazza-Rossini/2/
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