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2 weeksin Florence

f
florwoman Jun 9, 2010 09:20 PM

We will be living in Florence from 25 June - 9 July while my husband/partner-in-chow takes a course, and I need to come up with a range of places for dinner. We can't afford Cibreo every night, so I'm looking for a range of places, some casual, some nicer. Our only thing is that he simply won't wait for a table, so no reservations and gets a line is probably not going to work for us. We plan to head out of town one night to Chercina to visit I Ricchi (we know the son who has restaurants here in DC), and will likely do a day trip to Siena and/or San Gimignano, but otherwise are looking for restaurants in town. Oh, we will be staying in the historic center near the Accademia. Thanks

  1. l
    littleneck12 Jul 6, 2010 08:51 PM

    I just had two nights in Florence. My two dinners will give you a highly recommended suggestion and a not recommended suggestion.

    Il Guscio - via del'Orto 49 - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
    - Simply put, this may have been the best meal of my life - I am fairly young, but still... Wild mushroom risotto to start, followed by a a filet of beef topped with pate and a rich reduction. It was perfect in its simplicity. My wife didn't have such good luck, but both of her dishes were very good as well. We ordered an exquisite Tuscan red for 30 euros.

    Giostra - NOT RECOMMENDED
    - It's not that this place serves poor food. The food was good, no doubt. But it was by no means outstanding, and without focusing on anything else, it was one of the more forgettable meals we had in Italy. I had pappardelle with wild boar ragu and osso buco, which were both good, no doubt, but not considerably better than similar dishes I have had in New York (or made myself in the case of osso buco). My wife's tomato and basil based pasta dish was quite good, but it by no means offset the negatives of this place. Most importantly, they sectioned us off with other tourists in a completely separate restaurant two doors down from the charming-looking trattoria where we had made our reservation. This room was complete with neon lights and loud American families - not what you're looking for in Florence. To add insult to injury, the prices at this place seemed to be at least 50% higher than comparable eateries. All in all, this was the closest I felt to getting ripped off in Italy - not from a monetary standpoint, as the meal was still very reasonable, but more from an experiential standpoint. I could have had another meal at a place like Guscio...

    Let me add one more:

    Quattro Leone - RECOMMENDED
    - We had a quick lunch here. I'm sure you've heard of this place, as it gets recommended alot and is in our guidebook. So let me just recommend a dish - the pappardelle with summer truffles for 13 euros - unreal. The dish came just covered in delicious truffle shavings. Incredible. My wife had the tortellini with tallegio and asparagus which we had heard recommended, but we weren't the biggest fans of that - it felt like overkill to smother the flavors in cheese like that.

    I only had two nights there, but you have two weeks, so just relax and explore. If a place looks good and off-the-beaten track, then try it. Obviously the farther away from the city center the better.

    1. f
      florwoman Jul 4, 2010 11:59 PM

      We are finding some great places but are overwhelmed by the number of loud, poorly behaved Americans and are desperate to find some "undiscovered" gems that cater to locals. Help! So far we have been fortunate to find La Bottega Del Buon Caffe, owned by a talented young chef and his brother. It's a bit out of the way on Via antonio pacinotti, but worth the walk or bus.

      6 Replies
      1. re: florwoman
        c
        CJT Jul 5, 2010 07:39 AM

        Here's one slightly off the beaten path but near Pitti Palace which you might look for. It's clientele is mostly locals: TRATTORIA LA CASALINGA Via del Michelozzi 9r (Oltrarno, short walk from Pitti Palace). Another good local restaurant with real home cooking, few non-Italians. Overall rating: an excellent choice for lunch after a morning’s visit to the Pitti Palace or Boboli Gardens. To find it: from sidewalk front of Pitti Palace look for Banca Toscana across the street; narrow street next to bank leads 1 short block to Via Maggio; cross Maggio and Casalinga is on your left a few doors down

        You mention finding great places: can you let us know which ones you've liked? Have you been to Teatro del Sale?

        1. re: CJT
          mnosyne Jul 5, 2010 10:26 AM

          Casalinga has HUGE lines every night!

        2. re: florwoman
          jen kalb Jul 5, 2010 08:08 AM

          "Undiscovered" is tough in Florence where it seems like there are as many American tourists and students as Florentines - the farther you get from the centro the better you will be.
          Curious, have you tried any of the Slowfood picks? They tend to get more Italian tourists and locals on the whole than Americans. This search will bring up 15 of them (pretty much the current universe, except for tripe places.) These will be typical Florentine - Tuscan places, mostly no frills (tho Cibreo IS on the list)
          http://search.chow.com/search?query=s...

          1. re: jen kalb
            z
            zerlina Jul 5, 2010 08:46 AM

            I don't know when your SlowFood guide dates from, Jen, but there are only 11 in the 2006 online Italian guide (the last one available to non-members): Al tranvai, Da burde, Da nerbone, Da sergio, Del fagioli, Hosteria del bricco, I riffaioli, Il cibreo, Mario, Ruggero, Tre soldi.

            Da Burde, I Riffaioli and Ruggero (none of them in the historic center) get good reviews on the Italian food blogs I read. Da Nerbone is more a sandwich stand than a restaurant; Mario is only open for lunch.

            1. re: zerlina
              jen kalb Jul 5, 2010 11:13 AM

              I have the 2010 guide before me .

              Al Tranvai, Da Burde (Snail), Da Nerbone, Da Sergio, Del Fagioli,Hosteria Del Bricco, Il Cibreo (Snail),Il Maggazino, I Riffaoili. Mario, Ruggero, Sabatino, and Tre Soldi are the listed Osterie for 2010.

              I noticed that I had not indexed Nerbone yet (hadnt gotten to Panini places) or added Slowfood to the Cibreo Trattoria item - those are corrected now. Neither of these places will be tourist free, however. The list also includes a few Slowfood recommended winebars, which will come up on this search.

              Here is a corrected search result.http://search.chow.com/search?query=S...

              All of the indexed restaurants should be mapped on the linked pages, and as Zerlina notes, several are outside the center and might be less impacted. by tourism..

          2. re: florwoman
            b
            barberinibee Jul 7, 2010 02:59 AM

            For what it's worth, here are two lists of Oltrarno restaurants, one east, one west:

            http://www.letsgo.com/21018-tuscany-travel-guides-florence_firenze-food-food_by_area-east_oltrarno-c

            http://www.letsgo.com/21017-tuscany-t...

          3. d
            drjenmoore Jul 2, 2010 03:35 AM

            There is an amazing place for dinner near Montaione on way to Siena called Casa Masi. It is Michelin rated and absolutely has it all, amazing food, amazing setting and reasonable prices. HIGHLY recommended. We went there twice!

            http://www.casamasimontaione.it/pagin...

            Do not miss.

            1. r
              russspezial Jun 24, 2010 12:48 PM

              Been to florence so many times and always seem to end up at the same places. We like Cienghale Bianco in Oltrarno( probably the best meal Ive had there) , La Giostra is great in Santa Croce area and for a very local scene,very few tourists ,we go to Quatro Leoni( also in oltrarno) all of these are reasonably priced, very local, very real tuscan and super florentine, so, good luck, and enjoy your trip.

              1. s
                soonerhound Jun 23, 2010 07:36 PM

                We followed Chowhound recs for a trip to Florence in April - we thought Sostanza and Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco (I think open on Sundays) were both outstanding. We balanced our budget with trips to the deli at a grocery store.

                1. l
                  LotsC Jun 17, 2010 08:22 AM

                  Definitely second la Buca dell'Orafo, basement restaurant teeming with locals (+ some visitors!); Vini e Vecchi Sapori on teh Via Magazzini, Osteria de Benci, Enoteca Fuori Porta and the Enoteca/Restaurant San Niccolo, and I went to a fab place last time I was there and I've forgotten the name. Also Marione for lunches.......hope that helps

                  1. mnosyne Jun 12, 2010 11:41 AM

                    When we're in Florence for a long period, we often eat at La Grotta Guelfa, via Pellacceria 1, just south of Piazza Republica. The food is good, not expensive. Good atmosphere, under an arcade so you can stay outside even if it rains. Very reasonable for fish (sole, orata). The service is friendly and relaxed.

                    1. roxlet Jun 12, 2010 09:23 AM

                      One restaurant that seems never to make it onto these lists and that I always eat at while I am in Florence is La Buca D'Orfeo, which is a basement restaurant just at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio. The papardelle with boar sauce might have been the single best thing we ate in Italy last year. My son and I still talk about it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: roxlet
                        z
                        zerlina Jun 12, 2010 10:17 AM

                        I think you mean La Buca dell'Orafo...

                        1. re: zerlina
                          roxlet Jun 14, 2010 12:10 PM

                          Yes, you're right -- sorry about that...

                      2. jen kalb Jun 10, 2010 10:38 AM

                        Our restaurant page now has a list of eateries in Florence which you can map vis a vis your address. May be useful in finding places. Most of the entries have opening days, web links and other info attached.
                        http://search.chow.com/search?query=&...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jen kalb
                          c
                          CJT Jun 10, 2010 02:29 PM

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/469738
                          The above is a report I wrote after a trip to Florence in late 2007. Things don't change much in Florence over a few years, so you will find this report filled with information on a range of restaurants you can try during your stay. I strongly urge you to try Teatro del Sale while you are there for a broad range of dishes you will not find in many other places. No reservations are needed for lunch there, but they are required for dinner (there is usually entertainment after dinner and they need to know how many people will be there. Also, do a search on Sostanza on this board and do try to go there for the steak and the chicken in butter sauce.

                          1. re: CJT
                            f
                            florwoman Jun 28, 2010 11:36 PM

                            We went to Sostanza last night and it lived up to all we have heard. we shared the steak, chicken, fresh white beans in olive oil and a green salad. It was hot, noisy and the service was fantastic. Thanks for the great recommendation.

                            1. re: florwoman
                              jen kalb Jun 29, 2010 04:25 AM

                              glad to see you reporting! it wil lbe great to hear about the rest of the trip!

                        2. d
                          DavidT Jun 10, 2010 08:41 AM

                          Be sure to do a "Search this board" search for Florence. There have been many, many helpful recommendations & comments about dining in Florence made here over the past 6-12 months.

                          Do searches for Siena, San Gimignano, etc. as well.

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