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Florence: Seeking Casual Dining

I'm doing some late planning for our trip to Italy in October. I've been reading the boards and taking some notes, but I thought I'd try to get a few succinct answers with my own post.

We will be in Florence for six days. We have an apartment with a rudimentary kitchen across the street from the Accademia Gallery on Via Ricasoli. We hope to do some in-home cooking, but mostly eating out.

For most dinners, we'd prefer small, casual, authentic trattorias to modern multi star spots. Do I need recommendations for this type of eating, or might it be easier to walk around and take our chances? Also, I heard there is a good market near this location, but I've lost my notes about it.

In case you can't tell, I'm a slightly anxious (but totally thrilled) first-timer to Italy. Very excited about all the sites to see, and a bit overwhelmed. Any ideas and opinions are welcome!

(I've split this off from a joint inquiry for Rome and Florence, so if you already responded to that thread, I've saved your advice.)

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  1. The worst preparation is to be "slightly anxious...and a bit overwhelmed." Just relax and enjoy! Mercato Centrale is the market--close to San Lorenzo. A great enoteca is Le Volpi e L'uva--over Ponte Vecchio on the Oltrarno side.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Longing for Italy

      Do not worry, LfI, most of my anxiety is coming from the huge workload I must complete before leaving. The complete absence of free time has made me feel a bit overwhelmed as I try to read the volumes of information here on CH. I'd like to arrive armed with information, but time is growing short. Once I walk out my front door, I'm a relaxed and fluid traveler!
      Thanks for identifying the market, and for the enoteca recommendation. It looks like it will be a great place to stop in and revitalize.

    2. One of my favorite restaurants in FLorence is La Buca d"Orfeo. A buca is a basement, and this restaurant is down a few steps just off the Ponte Vecchio. I think I've eaten there a dozen times and have had some truly memorable meals there. The last time I went, there was a pasta with a boar sauce that was indescribably delicious. It was one of our highlights of the trip. They do a terrific bistecca, and you might just be in the right season for their incomparable poached pears. Believe me when I say that these are luscious. Although it is in a fairly touristy area, I always find the clientele to be a reasonable mixture of tourists and locals. The Mercato Centrale is wonderful, and we love the spot inside the market for a bite. Not crazy about the restaurants around the market, though. Don't miss Gelateria I Neri, which is on Via (I think) I Neri, just down from the Palazzo Vecchio. We were on the fence between it and Grom as our favorite gelato. We found lots of kitchen and housewares around the back of the Duomo. I even had a chef's jacket made for my husband there. It had multicolored ombre binding and multicolored buttons to match. You have enough time to do some serious wandering, and you will discover your own fantastic places to tell us about!

      via del Campanile, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

      4 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        You mean Buca dell'Orafo, right, Roxlet?

        we enjoyed the very simple Mario lunch restaurant near San Lorenzo and del Fagiole best on our last Florence visit - both offer very simple cuisine, soups meats etc.

        Del Fagioli
        Corso dei Tintori, 47R, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

        Trattoria Mario
        Via Rosina, 2, Florence, Tuscany , 50123, IT

        Buca dell'Orafo
        Via de' Girolami,28r, Florence, Toscana 50122, IT

        1. re: jen kalb

          Yes, that's right jen. Sorry about that!

          1. re: jen kalb

            Thanks for your recommendations jen. They've gone into my list. I was hoping you'd chime in with some ideas!

          2. re: roxlet

            Thanks for posting your ideas roxlet, I've noted them all. That pasta sounds wonderful. I definitely plan on finding some dishes with boar, and anything else that we don't get here.

          3. Here is the wonderful mural at the little cafe/bar inside the mercato centrale

            3 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              Second the review on the Buca del Orafo, it has a tremendous buzz and the food is excellent. I also thought that the Trattoria dell Carmine is very good, also quite reasonable, try I Raddi as well. Antica restori di Cambi, Vini e Vecchi Sapori are also very good. A former colleague of mine always raves about e che che (spelling needs to be checked) which is near Santa Croce. Am very jealous of your trip and have a super time.

              Vini e Vecchi Sapori
              Via dei Magazzini, 3, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

              1. re: LotsC

                Thank you LotsC, for all your ideas, and your well wishes. I've copied your post onto my list.

                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  Most importantly of all I hope that you have a super time in Florence. I should write up my trip from last year and I was quite organised and wrote up all the costs as well...am off for New Year to Florence and can't wait....

            2. Trattoria Mario is great, just the kind of small family run trattoria with simple delicious food and low prices. Located right near the mercato centrale near where you will be staying. BUT it is only open Mon-Friday and ONLY for lunch. Get there before they open at noon (otherwise plan to wait in line)

              Vini e Vecchi Sapori is my favorite restaurant in Florence. great pasta and yummy braised meat dishes. No Bistecca! Do book ahead then can only seat about 18 people.

              I also enjoyed del Pennello, Classic Tuscan menu done very well. located next to casa Dante.

              Trattoria Mario
              Via Rosina, 2, Florence, Tuscany , 50123, IT

              Vini e Vecchi Sapori
              Via dei Magazzini, 3, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

              1. I like Trattoria Sostanza for their bistecca fiorentina. Casual and local, not stuffy at all. Bon appetito.

                Via della Porcellana, 25, 50123, Florence, Tuscany 50123, IT

                1. Thanks to all of you for your helpful responses! It's surprising to me that I've gotten so many posts on the Florence thread, and no action on my Rome thread!
                  I've come up with a couple lists, one for dinners, one for lunches. Obviously we can't hit all of them in the time we have. I just hope to be able to choose some spots based on where we will be at mealtime, and whether reservations or tables are available.

                  Alla Vecchia Bettola, Viale Vasco Pratolini
                  Buca dell' Orafo, Via de' Girolami, 28r
                  Casalinga, Sdrucciolo de' Pitti, 9-r
                  Cipolla Rossa Via de' Conti, 53
                  Coco Lezzone, Via Parioncino, 28
                  Coquinarious, Via delle Oche, 15
                  Da Sergio, Borgo San Frediano, 145-red,
                  Del Fagioli, Corso dei Tintori, 47R,
                  LeVolpi e l’Uva. Piazza dei Rossi, 1
                  Marione , Via della Spada 27r
                  Osteria Tournabouoni. Via de Corsi 5r
                  Trattoria de Penello (or ristorante?) Dante Alighieri 4/r
                  Pepò, Piazza del mercato centrale
                  Sostanza: Via della Porcellana, 25
                  Trattoria Cibreo Via de' Macci 122r
                  Trattoria I Due G aka 2 G, Via Bernardo Cennini
                  Vini e Vecchi Sapori, Via dei Magazzini, 3

                  Da Vinattieri.
                  Da Burde (lunch only), Via Pistoiese 6r ,
                  Fiaschetteria Nuvoli, Piazza dell'olio,
                  Trattoria Mario, Via Rosina 2
                  Nerbone, Via dell'Ariento, 87r, 
                  Vini del Chianti Via Cimatori , 38r

                  Feel free to offer insight, advise if there are any places I should drop in the first round, any I shouldn't miss. Thanks again for everyone's assistance!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                    >> DINNERS:
                    >> Casalinga, Sdrucciolo de' Pitti, 9-r

                    I believe this address may be incorrect. The address shown on the restaurant's website at www.trattorialacasalinga.it is Via dei Michelozzi 9r

                    Sdrucciolo de' Pitti,9r, Florence, Toscana 50125, IT

                    1. re: nsxtasy

                      Yeah, I noted this when I created the restaurant entry (woops, this is one of the restaurants that didnt "take" I noted on site talk,) but the Sdrucciolo de'Pitti address is what maps on Google, ad it looks like the street is actually the same, with different names attached to different stretches.


                      Since its in a very tiny piece of geography, hopefully folks will be able to find it.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Thanks. It looks like Google maps either address to the same location...

                  2. Here's a great place I was at last week for lunch. Trattoria Sergio Gozzi on Piazza di San Lorenzo,8.
                    I had the Trippa alla fiorentina. It was super. A copy of the menu below. Have fun !

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: emglow101

                      I love that menu, emglow101! Classic Fiorentine!

                      1. re: emglow101

                        adding the link for da Sergio - its a Slowfood pick

                        da Sergio
                        Piazza San Lorenzo 8r, Florence, Tuscany 50122, IT

                        1. re: emglow101

                          What a great looking menu! Thanks for pointing out this spot.
                          And thanks, jen for adding the link. I see you do that a lot, which is very helpful!

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            I'd definitely try da Sergio--we eat there every time we're in Florence. Plus, the location is perfect. Enjoy your trip.

                            1. re: lisaonthecape

                              We just left Florence today for Umbria - I'm delighted to be sitting in a comfortable home in Todi and look forward to meals throughout the region. Back to the point, we had only four days in Florence, but some of the places we went to on your list include:

                              - Casalinga: our favourite spot. We would go here weekly if it were located in our city! Always full, they couldn't take us the first night we dropped by, so we made a reservation the following night (we were within a 10 minute walk). Every pasta was delicious, all priced at 6 euros, and the roast chicken was flavourful, tender and moist. We all enjoyed the tiramisu as well. Friendly service, note that the menu is in Italian only, so bring your dictionary! It really is packed, and definitely in close quarters, but I noticed several tables of twos talking to each other - we really enjoyed the food and the atmosphere. We actually went twice, we liked it that much. It was about 80 euro each time, with 3 pasta, 3 secondi, 2 cotorni, 3 dolci, bottle of chianti and bottled water.

                              Le Volpi e L'Uva: great variety of wine, interesting and delicious cheese platter, fantastic stop for a snack, or a light supper of cheese/meat platter. 27 euro for three glasses of chianti reserve and a cheese/mustard platter.

                              Nerbone's: I didn't like it. We had porchetta paninis and it really wasn't that good. Maybe we should have been brave enough to try the tripe... It was reasonable - 4 euros for the sandwich, 4 euros for a half litre of wine.

                              I'll do a full trip report when I get home, just wanted to pass along this recent information. Have a great time!

                              Via dell'Ariento, 87r, Florence, Tuscany 50100, IT

                              1. re: Silverwing

                                Re your note about disliking Nerbone: I usually mention that Nerbone serves other very good hot dishes in addition to the meat sandwiches and suggest those going there try them. It's for the very reason you cite -- if you don't like the sandwich, you don't like Nerbone. But I've had an excellent ribollita there and several pasta dishes that please us. Their prices are very reasonable, as you learned. If you go to the Mercato Centrale again, try other dishes from Nerbone's daily menu on the chalkboard.

                                Via dell'Ariento, 87r, Florence, Tuscany 50100, IT

                        2. I am getting ready to leave and want to thank all of your for your input. I've got a list of places to try now, so it has been great to have your guidance.
                          Thanks to all!