Florence, Italy - daily food budget
My wife and I will be in Florence for 2 weeks in May. We expect to eat out for all meals with a light coffee and brioche for breakfast, light lunch (pizza, single pasta dish + wine) and a full dinner out every day. We will not be eating in the most expensive restaurants but we do/will eat full meals at places like Da Mario and Sostanza. Full meals include, of course at least 2 courses, plus wine. What is a reasonable average daily cost per person, in euros?
2 cappuccino with brioche: 5 to 10 EUR for both (less expensive when standing at the bar)
Pizza or Pasta + glass of wine: 15 to 30 EUR for both
anipasto or pasta: 5 to 12 EUR each
secondo: 9 to 18 EUR each
bottle of wine: 10 to 20 EUR
average sum, for both: 75 EUR
breakfast, lunch and dinner: 7+30+75 = 112,- EUR average
Just as a follow up, I found that in the morning I could get a delicious cappuccino for about 1.05 euros, a great bargain; for dinner my daughter and I stuck to the antipasti, soups and pastas and we had plenty to eat, were very satisfied and it did not "break the bank". Also, for dessert, I often got a small gelato along the streets outside, which ran about 1.50-2 euros.
....or are too lazy to pull out the receipts to quote actual prices. Oh, is that just me? We were in Florence 2 weeks ago, so I have some of my receipts handy, and my memory is (kind of ) fresh:
Nebrone (in Mercato Centrale - perfect for lunch) - Pork sandwich 4 euro. Bowl of penne with ragu sauce 6 euro. Bowl of risotto of the day 9 euro. Bottle of water 1.50 euro. Tastes of delightful cheeses, sausages, and meats in the stalls around the market - FREE.
Sostanza - Cover and bread 6 euro (3 each). House wine (chianti) 3.50 per 1/4 L (that's just a little more than a glass each, so do the math appropriately....but I warn you, it's very drinkable and you shouldn't be ashamed to reorder. And in my case, reorder again.). Large bottle of water 2.50. First course (I had soup 3 euro and husband had plate of sliced prosciutto 6 euro) 9 euro. Second course varies. Our second visit it was 35 euro (I had filet for 16 or 17 and husband had veal chop for 18 or 19). Our first visit we had Steak Florentine 22 euro and Chicken in Butter 16 euro. (those are quoted from memory, but they are close). Side dish of sautee'd spinach 7 euro. Cake for dessert 7 euro. Our first time there we came in around 90 euro, the second time it was 75.
Teatro del Sale - **BEST VALUE** Club fee of 5 euro per person (if not european) and 25 euro for dinner. I pulled out my notebook and I documented 8 separate courses in addition to the appetizer table and various breads they bring out (and wine and coffee and dessert). Oh, and the price also includes the show. We saw a pianist, and it was a really fun time, not to mention one of the most memorable evenings of our vacation.
Hope this information is helpful to you!
CJT - The chicken en burro at Sostanza is, indeed, a singular experience. I had no idea what to expect when that sizzling, bubbling hot bowl came out of the kitchen, but it took my breath away! Fantastic. Note - during our second visit there, a couple decided to share the dish, so the kitchen split it. Each received one breast on a regular plate --- they missed out on the fantastic presentation.
Teatro del Sale was just phenomenal. The appetizer table contained the usual suspects: 3 kinds of beans, sautéed escarole, brocolini, several plates of roasted vegetables, cauliflower au gratin (sformato di cavolo fiore), and several other items.
(A note: a sweet couple from Florence who spoke no English sat with us and the wife was very helpful with telling me what things were and helping me spell them. And giving me food. And wine. And dessert. What a lovely woman.)
The first dish out of the kitchen was the polenta – flavored with cinnamon. Everyone rushed the table for a taste, but we could have all relaxed, another large pot came out shortly after. There was truly no shortage of food!
Second was soup: Brodo di Pesce It was a bisque-like soup – I can’t recall if it was shrimp or lobster flavored. But it was delicious. And served by Picci.
Next was Pasta con Bacalao. The pasta was not a shape I was familiar with, but similar to gemelli. The fish sauce was light and so flavorful.
Risotto con Ragu was perfect. After this dish, husband and I started sharing dishes, as we weren’t sure how many courses there would be…at this point it seemed it could go on all night!
The fifth course was Arselle Picante. Tiny clams in a spicy broth. When husband brought it back to the table, I said “Oh, volgole” and the nice woman we sat with explained that they were “arselle” not volgole. Then a man from Naples who was also sitting with us (and who spoke English) explained that they were volgole. So, the two of them argued about it for a little bit, and the woman ended up writing the word “ARELLE” in my book. So I guess that’s the end of that argument! The chef also announced to the room that they needed to eat this dish with their hands, NOT a fork. And that if he caught anyone using a fork, he would snap their membership card in half and throw them out into the street! So, I considered myself warned and happily slurped them up by hand.
Next was Orichiette Cavolonero. My memory of this is a bit fuzzy, but I believe it was a spinach & garlic sauce with the pasta.
At this point, a new kind of bread was brought around. Our dining companion identified it as “Stinko di Morto”, which apparently refers to the shape of the breadstick, which is that of a bone (femur? arm bone?). It wasn’t too tasty to me (rather dry), although when small pieces of hot bread (“Pane Caldo”) came around, I did grab those. Mostly at the insistance of the Italian woman. Didn't I mention she was lovely?? Anyone who gives me hot bread is a true friend!
The seventh course was Tripa en Burro. We skipped that course.
Eighth was sausage & breaded pork in a spicy meat/tomato sauce (ragu).
Ok, so I guess there were actually nine courses – the final was the Spidini: roasted pork, chicken & sausage with garlic rosemary roasted potatoes. Heavenly.
And then the desserts. I wouldn’t have even attempted it, but my new Italian friend brought me a dish of Cialda con Panna – wafer tubes with panna. There was also tiny bites of chocolate brownies (and the smudge of chocolate in my notebook as evidence), and coffee.
I’m glad I took notes, as we could have never remembered everything. It was a truly unique experience – and one of the great bargains of our entire trip to Italy!
Thanks for your follow-up and especially the listing of what you ate at Teatro del Sale. The dry bread you mention is apparently a staple at the Cibreo restaurants and is like a large dog bone, but an interesting addition.
Funny you ate with a local couple, as we did the same at our lunch there. The lady spoke a bit of English and I speak some Italian, so we got along well. It's nice to have someone local to explain the names of dishes and what they consist of. This also tells you that Teatro is not just a place for tourists but is frequented by local residents. Of course the price of lunch or dinner there is better than what you find at most restaurants in the city. By the way, you stated earlier that dinner was 25 Euros, but we thought it was 30 Euros (20 for lunch, but you don't get the show).
Can't recommend TRATTORIA IL CONTADINO enough. We were in Florence in 2006 and went to this place everyday. We looked at a lot of menus outside of restaurants and all we could do was compare them to the wonderful meals at Il Contadino. We also loved the small family-run atmosphere - this is were the locals go when they have a gathering or want a good meal. The gnocchi with gorgonzola is wonderful! The tiramasu on the weekends is great also. We are going back to Italy in 2008 and are specifically going to Florence & eat here.
TRATTORIA IL CONTADINO Via Palazzuolo 69-71r (down a side street from the train station towards Arno)
In 2006 Lunch 9 (?) euro, Dinner 11 incl pasta course, meat course, vegetable course, water, soda or wine and bread. Quite a value!
You must eat your fill of gelato in Florence!!! Florence has the best variety and quality of gelato out of the cities we visited in 2007. Ask for one scoop, 1-2 euros, in a cone - and then try as many as you can in a day.
For restaurants, there is one called Ikka Ce Ce (ikka-chay-chay), owned by a mom and pop team that was hands down the best dining experience we've ever hard. Details can be found in Rick Steve's Italy book. The proprietors were super friendly, and impressed enough by our valiant efforts at speaking broken italian, they comped us dessert and limooncello. The mom was extremely sweet and definitely interested in making sure we had a pleasant dinner. I think our tab ran around 80-85 euros (full meal for two + wine).
Don't forget to go to Ponte Vecchio (I think that's the bridge) and place a lock for your special someone - then throw the key in the river.