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Feb 18, 2008 11:53 AM

Florence - Please Help with Lunch and Dinner

We will be in Florence for 2 days in March. Neither of us have been before. Looking for a couple great lunches and dinners. I hear the food in Florence is amazing, but the posts seem overwhelming with what to choose. Is there any consensus on the best couple of restaurants for lunch and dinner? Teatro de Sale sounds very interesting. Is it worth it?


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  1. It appears you may have read my post from December on Florence in which I wrote up Teatro del Sale. Is is worth it? Best price/value deal you will find in Florence! If you go for lunch, it will cost you 30 Euros each (10 for membership, 20 for lunch) and that includes a tremendous amount of food (buffet all you care to eat), great variety, and wines (again all you care to drink). You will be there for lunch at more than an hour, so if you plan to visit museums, etc., you might want to go at night instead. Dinner will run you 10 Euros each more, but you also get whatever live show they have that night (dinner is reservations only - have your hotel book for you).

    I wrote up several other places in that post, but did not include Trattoria Sostanza, which I would make second choice for dinner (after Teatro del Sale). One of you should order the bistecca fiorentina and the other pollo in burro (chicken in butter sauce which you will never forget).

    If you are doing the sites (Duomo, San Lorenzo Chapel, Santa Croce, Palazzo Vecchio), you might want to just get a quick panini or just a plate of pasta for lunch and do your serious eating at night. If you plan to do the Uffizi Gallery, that's at least half a day's visit just to sample the art. If you happen to be near the Duomo at 12:30-1 PM, catch a quick plate at Le Mossacce, a small trattoria on the Via del Proconsolo just south of the Duomo but north of the Bargello on the west side of the street. The place is always busy and you sit at wooden tables. This is a good place to see local people at lunch and not very expensive.

    4 Replies
    1. re: CJT

      Thanks again for the great advice. I also have a friend that recommends Osteria Belle Donne. Ever heard of that? Any good? Is Trattoria Sostanza recommended over the places in your other review? Thanks again!

      1. re: houston

        I'm not familiar with Osteris Belle Donne, so can't help on that. Of the other restaurants in my December Florence Report, I would suggest you try Antico Fattore because it is right near the main square, next to the Uffizi, and 10-minute walk to the Duomo (as you see, I recommend the Gnocchi in Black Truffle sauce and the Pici Sienese. We did not got to Sostanza this trip so that we could try some new plances, but I would highly recommend Sostanza if you are looking for only 2 really good dinners and Teatro del Sale is the other one. The Chicken in Butter Sauce at Sostanza is glorious!

        1. re: houston

          Belle Donne is a cute place with moderate prices for Tuscan classics but I think you can do better since you have only a few meals in the city you might want something a bit more special...

        2. re: CJT

          I don't know if you left for Florence yet, but I love Aqua Al Due. The food is unbelievable. They have a pasta appetizer that 5 different pastas! I lived there for four months and ate their at least one a week!

        3. Houston, The food is terrific here. I just finished a months stay cooking and eating in Florence. Do not have the addresses off hand because I am still travelling but wanted to give some help.
          Look these up on google maps.
          By San Lorenzo and Mercarto Central (huge indoor market for all foods. closes at 2pm).
          -Tratorria Mario. Lunch only 12-3pm used to be for local workers but the tourists found it too. Doesnt matter, its great family cooking. Cheap too. everyday the menu changes and we loved it. The steak is a great price there too. I watched the chef butcher the meat every day for a week. You will sit with others and its fun and friendly.

          -Tratorri Gozzi (or sergio). similar food to mario but a step up in decor. I prefer mario.

          - Casa de vino. wine bar, crostini and panini. the owner will pick your wine by the glass or botle to go with your foods. Amazing combinations and his wine cellar is out of this world.

          -Tratorria Sostanza rocks for steaks. Go for lunch and save a few bucks or as an intimate dinner. by the arno.

          -Tratorrio Fagiolo for steaks. by santa croce.

          Gelato: Grom, Vivoli and Vestri.

          Vestri is also a boutique chocolate shop. some of the best ive ever had. Hot chocolate too.

          Also consider a foodie day with Divina cucina. I just did a tour with her and got to taste everything and meet lots of nice shop owners.

          Have fun. Eat steak and lots of gelato and pasta al forno.

          7 Replies
          1. re: pulled pork

            We are also going to Florence in March. This is our list so far.
            I have friends that were there last March and they ate at Aqua 2 , twice, in the three days that they were in town and some other friends ate at Antico Ristorante Paoli (tel 055 216215, Via dei Tavolini 12/r) twice in their short stay.
            I have recently read a great review about La Giostra (055-241-341) (Borgo pinti 10r) sounds great.
            I would love to hear of other great place that you know about.


            • Il Latini (tel. 055-241-171) (Eileen)(communal table/loud)
            • **Trattoria I’ Cche’ c’e c’e (tel. 055-216-589)
            • ***Acqua al 2 (tel. 055-284-170) (Eileen and bloggers)
            • Trattoria Antellesi (Via Faenza 9R, tel. 055 216990).
            • Il Cantastorie (on Via della Condotta)
            • Il Sasso di Dante (near the Duomo)
            • Da Ganino (in the centro storico)
            • Vivoli's (gelato)
            • Vivaldi (gelato) (Eileen)
            • Grom Gelato (near Duomo) (best gelato/culinary student)
            Trattoria Nell
            • Via Guicciardini 48r. (authentic, cheap, delicious, recommended by locals)
            • Ristorante Ottorino, (via delle Oche, 12-16r.) (close-up view of the Duomo)
            • Cafe Za Za
            • Ristorante Antico Paoli (on Via Tivoli)
            • * *La Giostra (055-241-341) (Borgo pinti 10r, Off Piazza Salvemini, Near Santa Croce ) (mom’s friends, granddaughter)

            1. re: TTabb

              -I quattro leoni, Piazza della Passera Florence Tel.055 228562
              L Quattro Leoni is a fabulous Tuscan Restaurant frequented by locals. In fact I was taken to dinner there by the grand daughter of the Bronzeman who made the doors on the Baptisery(Across from the Duomo).
              -Vivoli gelato is over priced and good but not great. try Gelateria La Carraia Piazza Nazario Sauro across from the Arno on the South Side. It is by the Ponte alla Carraia (.bridge)
              -Olio & Convivium,, Via Santo spirito 4r Florence Tel.055 2658198 another geat restaurant recommended by locals.
              -Ristorante Natalino Borgo degli Albizi,17 055289404 Is another Great Tuscan Restaurant frequented by locals. The staff was warm and friendly and made for a very pleasant evening.

              1. re: TTabb

                • Cafe Za Za: Right next door to Tratorria Mario.
                -Pretty good but if you are in the area for lunch you are better off at mario or Gozzi.

                • * *La Giostra
                - Walked by this place a lot. Inside is very cozy, warm and romantic. Also very expensive for Tuscan fare. Many visitors love it. Many locals say it is good but very expensive.

                Cibreo seems to be the big deal these days. The tratorria is the best deal on price but the ristorante next door is beautiful decor and service. All the same food though so we picked the tratorria.

                Il Latini has a great rep with the locals.

                Acqua al 2 is supposed to be a hit for pasta.

                1. re: pulled pork

                  You might want to know that Teatro del Sale is owned and operatied by the same person (Picchi) who owns the 2 Cibréo restaurants, so the food at Teatro del Sale is of a similar high quality, just much more of it at a considerably lower price than at the Cibréo spots.

                  I note that other posters are loading you up with possible choices and you mind can't comprehend which are the ones to try. My recommendation is still that for your 2 and only big meals in Florence you go to Teatro del Sale (you will tell all your friends about this meal when you return home) and Sostanza (bistecca fiorentina and pollo in burro will stay in your mind for months). Don't let your minds get fuzzy by all the other restaurants named here. You have only 2 days, so choose the most memorable and best. When we go to Florence, it is always for a full week in December and we have done that 4 times in the past 7 years, so we have the leisure to search out good places to eat. I don't suggest the other recommendations are not good, just that they don't compare to Teatro del Sale and Sostanza in your brief opportunity to sample the most memorable dining experiences in your brief stay. I Latini is interesting, but loaded with noisy tourists and not all that great food-wise. Acqua al Due is very popular, but hard to get into without reservations and it's frequented by lots of Americans, so not necessarily a good spot if you are looking for memorable Florentine atmosphere (Teatro is not a big tourist attraction because it is not all that well known, having opened only about 2 years ago).

                  1. re: CJT

                    Your suggestions have been very helpful for me. I will be in Florence for 3 days and will make sure we go to Teatro del Sale for the dinner and show as well as Sostanza for steak and butter chicken. I am new to Chow (first time on) do you do a regular post on Florence? How do I find it? Any suggestions in Venice? Thanks.

                    1. re: BFG

                      I generally post after wife and I visit Florence (every 2 years) and tell of our dining experiences. You'll find my last one in December 2007 (FLORENCE REPORT DECEMBER 2007). Previous post was December 2004 (couldn't travel in 2005) and I wrote about Sostanza then. Check out my recent post for other restaurants we ate at and for a full write-up on Teatro del Sale. We went there for lunch and were very happy we did so (dinner requires reservations but lunch doesn't unless you go on a holiday). If you can't find the 2004 post, let me know and I will send it to you.

                      It's been about 6 years since we went to Venice and I was not impressed with any place we ate at or prices for meals there. I do post on Rome when we go (alternate years on Rome and Florence) - last Rome post was December 2006,

                      1. re: BFG

                        BFG, when you get to Venice make reservations for dinner at La Furatola. LOVED IT! Great meal, service and comfortable cozy place. Perhaps the best seafood ive eaten so far. They also speak English so that you can discuss your evenings meal with the waiter. They took such good care of us. You can look over my blog posting for this restaurant and my trip to Florence here:

              2. i can make two simple/clear/strong recommendations

                lunch- cambi

                1. I second Quatro Leoni. If I only had time for one meal I would eat there. (Or maybe have a steak at Sostanza.)

                  1. I went to Florence last year and Il Latini was by far the best dinner I had my entire trip. Definitely worth the wait and the noise. While you wait servers come out and hand you glasses of wine and cheese and little bits of prosciutto. if you're looking for a snack before dinner I also recommend Procacci on Via Tornabuoni. they specialize in these truffle butter sandwiches and have a pretty reasonable wine list.

                    For lunch I can't remember the anme, but I went there after the Uffizi gallery. This little hole in the wall enoteceria that had this great paella and cheap wine. it was going more towards the church with the leather working school in it that towards the duomo, if that makes sense. good luck, and have a great time.