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Dec 2, 2011 08:37 PM

Low and Mid Price Firenze (Florence) Suggestions for Student

My younger daughter will be spending her spring semester in Florence. I'd like to compile a list of restaurants for her before she leaves. She won't be eating on an impoverished student's budget, but neither will she be dining in Michelin starred restaurants every evening (at least not on my dime). Just some good, honest everyday type places with a few better special occasions places thrown in for a once a week splurge. Good wine is a plus in her (and my) book.

No firm address at this point, but her university puts the students up in apartments that are centrally located, usually within several blocks of the Duomo/Via del Corso.

All leads appreciated.

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  1. Suggestions (prices my be higher since these reviews were originally written, but same value is still there):
    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.

    TRATTORIA IL CONTADINO Via Palazzuolo 69-71r I posted on this place a few times 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 original posting: 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. It was once more of a working man’s restaurant with few foreigners. BEST PRICE/QUALITY VALUE IN FLORENCE

    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.

    NERBONE in Mercato Centrale Many Chowhound folks go to this food stand at the Market for the beef or pork sandwiches which are reasonably priced. But most ignore the daily menu posted behind the counter. Ribollita we ate there was one of the best we had. Pasta dishes are quite good, as are all soups. Daily menu items are quite low in price and you can have a good and filling lunch for a very modest price (their wines are also inexpensive).

    1. I teach (for an Amer. Univ) every other summer in Frienze--all the Universities with programs there provide ample lists of places of interests to their students. So, i wouldn't fret too much ahead of time.

      Having said that, I "push" my students to wander "over-the-river," the Oltrarno, looking for small establishments without English menus; I've found this is the best way for them to begin their semi-immersion in Firenze. If one avoids the touristy areas, it's hard to get a "bad" meal--and the town is totally safe.

      If her flat has a frig, haunting the markets for great cheese, salami, bread and wine makes for some unforgetable in-house meals.

      Since she seems to appreciate good food and wine, I'd highly recommend her first stop being Le Volpi e L'uva--a block past Ponte Vecchio. It's my first stop each time I'm there--I stock up on Firenze's best selection of quality wine at a reasonable price. Another very inexpensive wine shop is DiVino, on Via Taddea, 8; this shop provides the "house/table wine" for many eating establishment. Take a bottle (or buy any empty one there), and sample some inexpensive but semi-decent wine.

      Le Volpi E L'uva
      Piazza dei Rossi, 1, Florence, Tuscany 50125, IT

      3 Replies
      1. re: Longing for Italy

        Yes, I have seen the material provided by her university (NYU). It's content is student generated, and therefore, one would think, a pretty good barometer for younger tastes. I was hoping that what I uncovered here might supplement that a bit, since she's into food, and especially wine, more than the typical student. She's also going to be able to afford a bit more than sine of her peer, too, I would guess.

        But for what it's worth, here is what she has been given to this point: (p. 10 - 12)

        1. re: Mike C. Miller

          In my view, the best rec on the list is Trattoria Mario. Other (unlisted) favorites of mine are Casalinga, Da Sergio, and Alla Vecchia Bettola. There are multiple posts discussing all of these picks.

        2. re: Longing for Italy

          I second the recommendation for Le Volpi E L'uva. Fantastic little wine bar with great snacks (salumi e formaggi, crostini, etc.) and great wines at good prices. Everyone who works there is very friendly and knowledgeable. Mangiafoco is another little wine bar with fantastic food, it's about 2 blocks from the ponte vecchio, on the north side on Borgo Santi Apostoli. They have the best cheese and meat plate that comes with unconventional things such as balsamic jelly, vin santo jelly and truffle honey.

          Gusta Pizza has fantastic pizza from a wood-burning oven at really good prices (5 euro for a margarita pizza) Popular with both locals and american students, they have a small menu, only 5-6 choices, plus 2 specials of the day... but everything is fresh and delicious. They aren't open all day, i think it's 11:30 - 3 for lunch and 7 - 11 for dinner. It can get crowded in there, but they give you a number and always get you seated within 10 minutes.

          For dinner I would recommend Osteria Del Porcellino and La Grotta Guelfa which are both near the Porcellino marketplace and Piazza Della Republica. Great food at good prices with super friendly staff. I've never had a bad meal at either place, everything on their menus are good. There is also a nice bar on the corner in between these two restaurants, owned by the same people who own La Grotta, called Il Guelfo Brillo. Definitely better than the Old Stove right next door, It has outdoor seating and good cocktails for 5 euros. With your cocktails they also bring you free snacks, like olives, chips, focaccia, etc. Try an Aperol Spritz! great apertivo.

          Frescobaldi is a great place to have a kinda fancy dessert paired with delicious dessert wine, but I would not recommend them for dinner, it's good but overpriced for what it is. It seems like the bartender at the bar in the back (where they only serve wines and desserts) really wants to give you good pairings for a great experience, whereas the waiters in the front of house seem to just be trying to sell you an expensive bottle.

          Sorry for the long post! Just a few of my favorite places in Firenze! I know your daughter will enjoy her time!

          Le Volpi E L'uva
          Piazza dei Rossi, 1, Florence, Tuscany 50125, IT

        3. There's so much to choose from in Florence, that is low to mid priced!

          If she's adventurous, have her check out the various tripe stands around town. Even if she doesn't order tripe (but she should try it) they also have boiled beef that's divine.

          There are two restaurants in the San Lorenzo Market - Nerbone and Porks - both excellent, but only open for lunch. A similar one is in the Mercato San Ambrigio, Rocco. All are extremely affordable.

          For more classic, yet still inexpensive, my favorites are Casalinga, Antica Mescita San Nicolo, Fagioli and Al Tranvai.

          She should also check out some of the enoteca, where she can have plates of crostini or cheese and ham. A fun one is Fuoriporta.

          Check back in when you are going to visit her and I'll give you the slightly more upscale version!

          1. Weve input a lot of restaurants into the Chowhound restaurant page. They are mostly coded by price, and also mapped. - put in her address and the nearest places appear.

            go to the upper right change tab to Restaurant - type Florence,IT in second box
            you will then get a list of all the Florence restaurants in the Chowhound database (including site recommendations. Slowfood, and other sources) There are currently 97. You can narrow the search by price or othe factors, neighborhood, etc. In the price hierarchy, $ is 15E or below, $$ is 35E or below and so on, for a full meal. Your daughter should be able to get a very good mealin the second category.

            Historically, Oltrarno and other neighborhoods away from the most impacted central zone are less touristy but ultimately its hard to get totally away from tourists/students etc in a town like Florence.

            1. Just came across this place and will be trying it in January when I'm in Florence. I would think given that it is only open for lunch, caters to "locals" and has a limited menu that it is not very expensive.


              7 Replies
              1. re: ttoommyy

                you are right.

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

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Da Sergio is fantastic. But only open at lunch.

                  1. re: minchilli

                    We'll be in Florence the first week of January and we're eager to try Da Sergio. Glad to hear you think it is "fantastic" minchilli. Do you think two Americans who try their best to speak Italian and have nothing but respect and love for Italian food will be well received at Da Sergio?

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      We have travelled to Italy for over 20 years and always have lunch at DaSergio whenever we're in Florence. My husband is fluent in Italian, while my command of the language is only passable, and our sons speak only a few words. We have always felt welcome there, even when our sons (now 14 and 17) were young. It's the sort of place where they won't sneer at you if your growing teen really wants another plate of pasta instead of a secondo. Classic Florentine food. Having read and enjoyed your posts on prior trips, I know that fine wine is a priority. I will confess that I haven't explored much at DaSergio beyond the house red.

                      1. re: lisaonthecape

                        Thank you lisa. I appreciate your thorough response. May I ask, is it difficult to get in to Da Sergio? I assume they do not take reservations. Correct? Thanks again.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          I don't think they take reservations, but we've never had a problem getting seated. Of course, when my boys were younger, we tended to eat on the early side, more like noon than one, although our last visit was an impromptu stop while driving from Umbria to Liguria. (My son's girlfriend was with us on her first Italy trip and we decided that she couldn't miss Florence altogether.) We caught the late side of lunch that time but didn't feel rushed.

                          1. re: lisaonthecape

                            Thanks again lisa. Much appreciated.