Authentic but not pricey food in Florence
Will soon be in Florence and I'm looking for authentic food that isn't too expensive.
I second Nerbone. Or if you are more near the the Palazzo Vecchio at lunch time, there is a sandwich stand right outside the American Express office. Try the Panino il Lesso (boiled beef), with the salsa verde and a little piccante sauce! (Similar to Nerbone's sandwich, but without the crowds).
For dinner try the pizzeria at Cafe Italiano - a thick crusted, neopolitan-style pizza. You can watch them go into the hot oven by the front door, and they cook in about 4 minutes! There are only, i think, 3 types of pizzas to choose from, plus salads can be ordered on the side, but that's it for the menu. The pizzas are about 7 or 8 euros (1 pizza per person), so you can get out without spending too much. Possibly the best pizza i've had here in florence.
Thirds on the panino bollito at Nerbone. Along with the ribollita, it made a lovely lunch that set us back just 7 euros (we shared both between two people). Three or four primi, a few secondi, and some contorni rounded out the offerings, as well as a couple other sandwiches. Every bit of food I saw coming across the counter looked as tasty as our choices, too.
I liked Cibreo, the trattoria version. Primi were 6 euros, secondi around 12 or 14, IIRC, but the food was excellent quality and well-presented.
Search for and check out my post entitled: Florence Report December 2007 on this Italy board and you will get good ideas to address your request.
Palottino near Santa Croce is a favorite of ours for authentic food and low prices. Their pappa al pomodoro is great; I've had it two nights in a row. They have lardo, good Tuscan beans, fettunta... a few things you may not see in every Florence restaurant. It is also near Vivoli, as either a landmark or a dessert stop (I prefer the nearby Gelateria dei Neri).
Another stop that amazingly sees very few visitors among the loyal lunch crowd is da Sergio, behind the street market stalls in San Lorenzo. Very authentic, very good, and well priced. They always have fish on Thursday and Friday, and the mixed fry and pasta with clam sauce are very good.
If you haven't gone yet - Vini e Vecchi Sapori on the Via Magazzini just off Piazza della Signoria - very reasonable and delicious nosh. Tiny restaurant too! Doesn't disappoint have been there six times over the past three years and all times excellent. My mother even liked it and she is very very fussy!
re: thinks too much
Don't know if you read my post on Florence mentioned on Oct 24 and since both Pallotino and Vini e Vecchi Sapori (writen about above) were on my long review, I am posting for you here the original here. You can't go wrong with these places and you will eat very well at reasonable prices.
We finally got to Teatro del Sale and our lunch there was a highlight of the week. Here are our reviews:
1. TEATRO DEL SALE Via dei Macci 111r This is a “sister” restaurant to the 2 Cibrèos (restaurant and trattoria), all three of which are run by Fabio Picchi (who was seated at a table near the entrance conducting business with suppliers and staff on Friday afternoon when we went for lunch). To eat here, you must join their “club” – Circo-lo Culturale - for a fee of 5 Euros per person for “foreigners” (higher club fees for locals). You fill out a form and receive a numbered membership card valid from July 1 of this year to July 1 of next year. They are open for breakfast (7 Euros), for lunch (20 Euros), and for dinner (30 Euros, reservations required at night).
You can relax in the “club” in leather sofas and love seats, with free self-service coffee, tea, water available, read newspapers and magazines, or chat. We visited for lunch and were amazed at the quantity and quality of what they served. When you enter the main room, it is a small theater, and various performances are offered each night after dinner only (musicians, singers, dancers, performers of different types and styles vary each night).
Tables of various sizes are available in the dining area and you can sit alone or with others whom you know or don’t know (we sat with an Italian couple from the Florence suburbs who come in once a month to have lunch at Teatro del Sale; this was a good experience because they were able to explain what the unusual dishes were and what the various announcements were about).
Meals are self-service from a buffet table. You pick up a small plate, take what you like, return to get another and select from the offerings again as often as you wish. You take used plates to a dutch door and place them there so kitchen staff can wash them. White and red wines are complimentary and are self-served from a wooden box on a table at the entrance to the theater. If you are seated in the main theater room, you can see the entire kitchen and food preparation area behind windows on one wall. From time to time, one of the chefs opens a window and announces what dishes are about to be delivered to the serving table.
Quantity and quality of what we were offered were outstanding and plentiful. Here is what they served: cannellini beans in oil and spices, ceci beans in oil with different spices, roasted cauliflower, baked fennel slices, mixed carrots & peas in a sauce, traditional dish of tomato/potato/celery/carrot mash, polenta with roasted garlic cloves and topped with parmesan cheese, Tuscan ribollita, thin-sliced veal roll, potatoes with herbs and tomatoes, baked ricotta topped with parmesan cheese (sformata), hot fillets of mackerel in oil and spices, mixed salad (arugula, chicory, radicchio, etc.) in balsamic dressing, and “chicken neck” which is often served at the other 2 Cibrèo dining rooms (essentially chicken forcemeat with added spices in a cooked roll).
Following this enormous spread, they served us plates of hot fusilli pasta in a tomato and meat sauce, and “raw” salami meat to be spread on foot-long “dog biscuit” bread sticks. Finally, they served spiedini: grilled chicken, pork, sausage and bread chunks in oil, along with roasted potatoes in herbs. Dessert, for those who had room, was a simple chocolate pavé cut into small pieces.
Dinner must be somewhat similar, although we expect dinner would include more main courses (meat dishes). DO NOT MISS THIS PLACE WHEN YOU GO!!!! If you know how to use the electric buses, take the C line bus to Piazza San Ambrogio stop which is where Via Dei Macchi is.
2. VINI E VECCHI SAPORI Via dei Magazzini 3/R So small it's not easy to find at the end of this small street, just before you go into the Piazza della Signoria. Look for the word OSTERIA over the door and an oval sign in the window with the name on it. Seats no more than 16-18 people and you might have to share a table with others. Most of the clientele appear to be personal friends of the owners, so it is a very real Florentine place. If it’s full when you go there, come back in a half-hour and there might be seats for you.
Our primi were: tagliatelle con anatra (freshly made flat noodles with duck meat) and bucatini con carciofi (pasta with chopped cooked artichoke – not chunks of artichoke but little pieces blended into the pasta sauce). Both were priced at 8 Euros per plate in sizable portions, very delicious and flavorful. For secondo, we shared puntarelle stuffed with ground meat (veal and pork with spices and tomato pieces) – like cabbage rolls – but more subtle in flavors and texture (puntarelle is a winter chicory). Price was 9 Euros and we had enough for two to eat and enjoy.
This is a great restaurant to sample home cooking of good quality at a reasonable price. We would definitely go back for more.
3. TRATTORIA IL CONTADINO Via Palazzuolo 69-71r I posted on this place in December 2004 and many chowhounders have posted that they enjoyed eating here as well. An excellent bargain: low price, very good food! Fixed price menu is 11 Euros and includes a primo, a secondo, bread, plus wine or bottled water. We had: freshly made fettucini with fresh pesto (best plate of fettucini I ever ate!) and spinach-stuffed ravioli in a meat sauce. Secondi: grilled swordfish (fresh and nicely grilled) and veal stew with tiny peas and potatoes. Both secondi came with side orders of vegetables so we shared a plate of mixed cooked veggies (potatoes, carrots, artichokes, green beans) and a mixed greens salad with radicchio, fennel, chicory, and lettuce.
Some changes from last posting in 2004: the restaurant décor has been spiffed up, but still plain and clean, fixed price no longer includes dessert and coffee, many more Americans eating there. In 2004, it was more of a working man’s restaurant with few foreigners. BEST PRICE/QUALITY VALUE IN FLORENCE
4. TRATTORIA ANTICO FATTORE Via Lambertesca 1/3r We have been here 3 times and will always return for 2 special dishes they offer: gnocchi in black truffle sauce (8 Euros) and pici alla Senese (8 Euros). The truffle sauce is an absolutely great experience and should be tried. Pici is a very thick spaghetti common to the area of Siena (Senese refers to Siena) and at Antico Fattore, it is prepared in a light cream sauce with tiny walnut pieces – excellent as well. For secondo, we shared involtini (13 Euros) – veal slices wrapped around sage leaves with bacon wrapped around the veal. It was quite tasty but the portion of 2 involtini was rather small and not worth 13 Euros (approx $19). We were also disappointed that the bill included both a 1.30 Euro per person cover and 4 Euro service fee.
I always suggest that before going to this restaurant you go to their website (www.anticofattore.com) On the home page, click on “Uno Regalo per Voi” and print out the page which comes up. Take that page to the restaurant and when you present it they will give you both a small dish as sen on the page (useful for olives and as a souvenir of Florence) and a free bottle of Ruffino wine (white or red at your choosing) to take with you when you leave. The wine offsets the service fee and is decent quality from a good brand.
5. IL PALLOTINO Via della Stinche 1/r (across from small Ukrainian church on corner of Via Vigna Vecchia) Found this little place when others nearby were not open. They offer a “menu degustazione” at only 8.50 Euros and it was quite good: penne in a simple butter and black pepper preparation, followed by a grilled slice of pork with carrots and zucchini. Wife ordered risotto with speck and radicchio and found it a real delight. Rice turned red from being cooked with the radicchio and the speck gave it a nice extra flavor (8 Euros). Unpretentious good restaurant at a budget price. Mostly Italian families eating there.
6. Quick lunch places: NERBONE and VINI DEL CHIANTI
- Nerbone is still going strong but I was disappointed not to find ribollita on the menu when we were there – theirs is one of the best I have had in Florence. Had to settle for pasta fagioli soup, which was good but not like the ribollita. Meat used in the panini sandwiches this visit was pork, not beef, as on last visits.
- Vini del Chianti is a panini and wine stand on the side of a building on the Via del Cimatori just off the Via dei Calzaiuoli opposite Orsanmichele. Good quick sandwich and glass of wine for low price, stand in the street to eat and drink with everyone else. Still a good place for a quick bite.