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Jul 6, 2009 12:49 PM

Best meal of your life (in Florence) recommendations

Hi - first time poster. I realize that it is best to check around for past posts etc. to avoid being repetitive, but I have been doing so and still am unsure about an upcoming florence trip. I am looking for one tear inducing (joy) experience in Florence. Whether that be about specific plates or the entire dining experience. Basically if you had one meal that you still dream about or could only go to one restaurant in Florence, i'd love to hear about it.

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  1. If your idea of tear-inducing joy includes Michelin-starred restaurants, then the answer is easy: Enoteca Pinchiorri.

    If your wallet doesn't open wide enough to pay for a restaurant that is frequently described "Italy's best restaurant." another suggestion would be Trattoria Cibreo. This place is decidedly less stuffy than Enoteca Pinchiorri and less stuffy than big brother Cibreo. Although the place is more rustic and reservations are not accepted, the cooking is basically the same. Markedly different is Teatro del Sale. This help-yourself restaurant (with entertainment thrown in at dinner only) has been described in detail by others. Search the board for more info.

    1. Hi, I was in florence a couple years ago for 3 days & we had the most amazing pizza and burrata, it was so good, we went back the next day. We went both days for lunch, it was reccomended by locals, iL Pizzaiuoulo. It's on Via de Macci & is sorta near Piaza Croce. It was a little hard to find. The locals we met also took us to La Spada for dinner which was amazing & to another place that is by far the best meal I have ever had in my life, it was called Antico Girone. But it was not right in Florence, we went on scooters to get there, it was about 15-20 min away. If I had the exact addresses, I would post them but I can't find them.

      8 Replies
      1. re: porter.florida

        Enoteca Pinchiorri is very upscale and expensive and if formal service is to your liking and the wallet is not at all an issue, then go there. As for the Trattoria Cibreo, that was a good suggestion, as it serves virtually the same food as the main Cibreo, but at much lower prices. Trattoria Cibreo is small and warm, but they take no reservations and no credit cards. Teatro del Sale is a few doors away, is run by the same restaurateur, and will give you a memorable lunch or dinner (entertainment is only after dinner, not after lunch). You will experience Italian dishes you have never had before, and since it is all buffet-style, self-serve, you can go back for seconds of whatever you liked (assuming others haven't beat you to it). Wine, mineral water, coffee and tea are included and self-serve also.
        Read my post "Florence Report - December 2007" for a full write-up on Teatro del Sale and several other good places to eat in Florence

        1. re: CJT

          Pinchiorri is a three Michelin star restaurant (one of, I believe, today four in Italy-I've been to three of them) and an entirely different experience from Cibreo which, in its own way, may be the best in Florence. (For myself, Le Calandre in Rubano outside of Padua is the best restaurant in Italy.) Il Pizzaiola is literally adjacent, meters away from Cibreo and the best pizzaria in Florence, perhaps one of the best in the country. The answer to your question depends on what you are looking for: if it is opulent, indulgent luxury with intense textural and interpretative flavor then Pinchiorri should be your choice. Perhaps E 250+ a person with wine, tax and a tip. If great traditional Tuscan food is your priority then Cibreo. If you are looking for a world standard steak, bisteca Fiorentina, arguably the best of all is Sostanza which is also Florence's oldest trattoria. All of these are outstanding experiences. All have lengthy writeups on here. All require reservations far in advance of your trip.

          I would go to all three and Il Pizzaiola, too. For lunch.

          1. re: Joe H

            Sostanza could offer you the experience you seek, but my belif is that this will happen if you share 2 dishes there: bistecca fiorentina AND petti di pollo en burro. This second plate is 2 pieces of chicken in an outstanding butter sauce which will leave you with a very good memory of Florence. That being said, don't expect a fancy atmosphere at Sostanza -- it is not the most beautiful restaurant in Florence, but what it prepares is what you go there for.

            1. re: CJT

              I agree completely with the recommendation to get both chicken and steak. I will say, though, that I was at Sostanza last week with a couple of friends, and we walked in without reservations. We were rather early (around 7:30), but by the time we left it was still only half-full. I think the credit crunch is really affecting things this year.

              I also love Trattoria Cibreo, and second the recommendation for Teatre del Sale. If the evening show is Maria Cassi, don't miss her, even if you don't speak Italian.

              1. re: MorganSF

                Last time we ate at Sostanza (maybe 4 years ago), we did exactly the same thing: arrived without reservations before 8PM and were seated immediately. Even when we left, there were not a lot of tables full.

                As for Teatro del Sale, Maria Cassi performs after dinner fairly often. I get e-mail newsletters from Teatro at least once a week and today's said that on July 9, in anticipation of the French National holiday, Fabio Picchi, the chef would personally make onion soup and after dinner Maria would show and comment on Jacques Tati's film "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday" (didn't say if she would speak in French or Italian; the movie takes place at a seaside resort in France and many of the characters in it are English vacationers who speak little to no French. Tati/Hulot is French, but he barely speaks at all in the film).

                Let me know your approximate dates to be in Florence and I can try to let you know what special food Teatro will offer or what entertainment there will be at that time, assuming I get the newsletter for your dates. If you go at lunch, it will cost you less and there will be no show after the meal, but the food will be excellent and copious. My recollection is that Teatro is closed on Sunday, Monday, and perhaps Tuesday. Make sure you verify what days both of these places are closed so your plans don't get spoiled.

                1. re: CJT

                  We will be in FLorence from Aug 4-7. Can you give me an idea of what's happening at Teatro? Thanks!

                  1. re: eatermom

                    I get e-mails from them which tell what will be happening that week, so I can't tell you about August until I get the e-mail then. You can go to their website and see what is on for the week you go, but it won't be posted there for a while yet. Also, the site is all in Italian.

              2. re: CJT

                i agree but definitely add the artichoke torte as a starter!

        2. Am a great fan of the Osteria de Benci for food, atmosphere etc.etc. Also love Buca del Orafo and Vini e Vecchi Sapori.....not michelin quality, very florentine and quite a few Italian voices too! Prices don't hurt to much either....

          6 Replies
          1. re: LotsC

            I'm also a great fan of Osteria dei Benci, but, with the exception of one particular pasta dish, I don't think this lovely trattoria delivers tear-inducing joy. Joy for me comes in the form of dei Benci's pasta with cherry tomatoes, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. I like eating in their generous outdoor space. And I love the fact that it's located near Gelateria Neri, some of the best gelato in Florence. However, I think other restaurants posters have recommended better meet the OP's specific criterion.

            1. re: Indy 67

              Tuscan food is simple food and the best food is the most simple, and it is so very personal and these are meals that I would return to florence again and again and again for. I love the Osteria de Benci's roast chicken with potatoes with tomato salad and anchovies. A really simple salad of pecorino and pear at Buca del Orafo also hit the mark. Good flavour etc. I have done Cibreo and felt it is severely over rated and that was three years ago, never wanted to return there!! I do agree with the Gelateria Neri though there chocolate and chili ice cream is delicious....

              1. re: LotsC

                Ah! But your comments about Tuscan food are exactly why I didn't recommend Cibreo. I skipped over that restaurant and recommended the lower-cost sibling, Trattoria Cibreo.

                1. re: Indy 67

                  Aaah but have also done Cibreino and that is also distinctly overrated, particularly as one has to queue or eat at some horribly early time, also Teatro del Sale which has never grabbed me and has also disappointed friends. Zibbibo is/was good. But if you are speaking about truly memorable meals. Tuscan food is cucina poveri, not Michelin style and dont you think that by focusing on Michelin style food you lose the essence of it?

                  1. re: LotsC

                    Can anyone teoll me if Sostanza is open in August?? Will be there the 19th and 20th. Thanks!

                    1. re: lbrawer

                      The Frommers website says it is "Closed:August"
                      sometimes these places will take a summer closing in August but not for the whole month, so when you get there you may get a chance, who knows.

          2. Best bisrecca - Il Latini

            Best pasta with wild boar - Trattoria da Guido

            Best pana cotta - Enzo e Pierro

            Best gelato - Cafe del 900

            Best cheese & salumi - sold by a father and daughter (or at least they look like they are father and daughter) at the Florence central market.