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Turning 30 in Florence - Fancy Dinner Recos?

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I'll be in Florence in April of 2008 for a conference and will also be turning the big 3-0 there. Yipee!

I've got the chance to splurge for one night with my hubby for the big day.

He's crazy for northern italian fare. I am too, but also love nice restaurant decor and service.

Any thoughts?

TIA,
Mrs. H

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  1. Just to be clear, do you mean that you are NOT looking for Florentine (or Tuscan food?)

    Are there any budget constraints?

    3 Replies
    1. re: erica

      Definitely interested in Florentine/Tuscan food...after all, we'll be in Florence!

      Without wine, I'm thinking $50-70 per person?

      1. re: dezinerg

        You said Northern Italian so I thought you meant non-Tuscan..Tuscany is not considered to be in the north. But aside from that pickiness on my part, I think that 33-50 Euro per person is not going to buy dinner at the "fancy" places at the high end unless you order just one or two courses. Not even sure if it would cover La Giostra, of which many rave but I have not been.

        1. re: erica

          Incidentally, I'm reading the OP's budget as a total of $100-140 for two plus the cost of wine. That certainly will cover the cost of La Giostra assuming there's some sharing of dishes for some of the courses. My husband and I do that routinely for reasons having nothing to do with cost control.

    2. I think you'll enjoy La Giostra. Marvous food and a great atmosphere. The owner is a charming Hapsburg prince who works the room visiting with diners and making sure everything runs smoothly.

      We haven't been to Florence in four years so it has been that long since our last meal at La Giostra, but I believe we received a complimentary glass of someting bubbly (Prosecco? Asti Spumante?) along with a plate of well-prepared Tuscan crostini. More recent travelers to Florence have posted on this board that La Giostra is still as good as our meals there.

      Here's the link to the restaurant's web site:
      http://www.ristorantelagiostra.com/in...

      6 Replies
      1. re: Indy 67

        We were at La Giostra in September and had a great time. It is a very celebratory restaurant - twinkly lights, bustling, fun. And yes, they do give you complimentary prosecco when you sit down. I believe they also gave us a free appetizer. The food and service were very good.

        1. re: shopwinedinefine

          Thanks, I'll put La Giostra on the list. Do any nice hotels in Florence have exceptional restaurants or bars?

          What's the main difference between Northern Italian and Tuscan food?

          1. re: dezinerg

            To me, Northern would mean Veneto, Piedmont. Lombardy, etc. Tuscan food is VERY different than these...not similar to any other Italian food that I know of. Of course there is lots of overlap and you will find dishes from all regions in many restaurants. For me, eating well in Italy is not about the fancy places at all. I have had my best meals in much more relaxed trattoria, osterie, etc, although the nomenclature is also blurred nowadays. To me, "fancy" in Florence means Enoteca Pinchiorri, with its MIchelin stars, Cantinetta Antinori, Villa San Michele in Fiesole, etc. I am not the one to advise you on these...but in any case they would be way beyond the price range you mentioned above.

            You could look into Cibreo's main restaurant.....

            1. re: erica

              Yes, I read about Enoteca Pinchiorri on difference review sites last night, and it looked to be even more expensive than French Laundry in St. Helena, California (driving distance from my house)!!!

              I don't know if I want to spend nearly $300 on a meal even if I could,KWIM?

              Well, maybe a few times in my life I would!

              Like, French Laundry is definitely on my list of places to go - someday...

              1. re: dezinerg

                Maybe you can give an example of a typical N. Italian dish vs. a Florentine dish, so I can get an idea?

                Thanks for the clarification, by the way.

                1. re: dezinerg

                  There is a fairly useful description of Italian regional cookng here:
                  http://italianfood.about.com/library/...

      2. I think you can do nicely at I Giovanni on via del Moro for about 100-120 euro with modest wine. The food is very traditional dishes in modern presentation. Very fine. They also have nice seafood dishes. Another spot that I love but have not been to in several year is Ristorante Ricchi on Santo Spirito. All seafood at dinner. Again, you should be able to do 2 courses each plus dessert for about 100-120 euro. The decor and service is probably a little nicer in a casually hip way at I Giovanni and more family run with older, slightly gruff but really nice underneath waiters at Ricchi. The owner and chef were both at our table at the latter.

        2 Replies
        1. re: deangold

          I like Ricchi as well.

          1. re: deangold

            We ordered a whole branzino at Ricchi. It was brought to the table covered in a salt crust, with a wreath of rosemary, aflame, on top. Spectacular, and delicious. It made a great occasion.

          2. Anyone heard anything good about JK Place's restaurant?

            1 Reply
            1. re: dezinerg

              It's a hotel restaurant and likely to be pricey.

              You can probably eat better Tuscan/Florentine cooking less expensively at any of the places mentioned above.

            2. zibibbo