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Oct 25, 2012 11:10 AM

October Trip Report - Florence Restaurants

We're in Florence for a whole week and eating out most dinners and some lunches. We 're still looking for some restaurant ideas , here is what we have done so far:

Il Cibreo Trattoria- Wow. Outstanding flavors, composition, innovative food - best meal we have had so far. Vitello Tonnato, which I have had so many times before, tasted like something entirely new.

Osteria Santo Spirito -great gnocchi, fettucine with porcini good. OK salads.

Acqua al 2 - another revelation. The assagio pasta tasting was exceptional, and the chicken con Funghi, swimming in porcini, was otherworldly. Great dinner, will return.

Mario's - everything you have heard is true. How can a bisteccha taste so much better in a small storefront in Florence? Is it the crowds, the noise, or (most likely) the generous puddle Tuscan olive oil they pour on it? Have to go back at lunch, they had run out of several other dishes we wanted to try.

Osteria Benchi - solid pastas, good salads.

Coco Lezzone - just tired.

Looking for more ideas - any ideas?


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  1. what? No Sostanza yet??

    1. We thoroughly enjoyed Boccanegra, We were there in the spring, so the offerings will be different this time of year. It was recommended to us by Stefano Conti, who has a lovely shop at the Central Market.

      1. My 2 cents about dining in Italy, if you particularly liked a restaurant's food and service, just keep going back, especially if you had a hard time deciding the first time you went what to choose from the menu, and especially if the restaurant does market-based cooking. You are unlikely to run out of dishes to sample, and the owners will be flattered to see you again, and treat you as clients. If you like traditional regional cuisine, restaurant menus will not vary all that much from one Florentine restaurant to the next. But to go with the cook you already know you like.

        Were I right now in Florence, I would be looking for certain foods as much as I would be looking for certain restaurants. In particular I'd be looking for dishes featuring pumpkin, porcini or chestnuts. Sorry I don't know restaurants in Florence well enough to suggest where you can find delicious pumpkin soup, or chestnut cakes, etc. Maybe someone does and they'll stop by if you like those foods.

        2 Replies
        1. re: barberinibee

          thanks for the replies!

          We've been eating porcini everywhere - the porcini soup at Il Cibreo was incredible, as was the pasta with pumpkin at Aqua 2. Great meal at Il Cantinone last night - my daughter is a vegetarian, she had eggplant parmesan and loved it, as it did not even resemble the dish as served in the US. We also had terrific pollo con funghi, and spinach ravioli in a walnut sauce.

          Will see if we can get in to Sostanza, although we have a table at Il Santo Benvitore reserved for tonight.

          1. re: MarinBob

            My recollection is that 90 percent of the time in the US, "eggplant parmesan" is made with mozzerella with a mere sprinkle of parmigiano cheese. I was also going to mention walnuts, and then wasn't sure they were popular in Florence. Glad you are enjoying the seasonal fare.

        2. My favorites include Sostanza, Casalinga and Antica Ristoro di Cambi. These are all simple, straightforward Florentine trattorie.

          For something a bit different, you can try Cipolla Rossa. Again, very casual, but with some twists to the usual Tuscan dishes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: minchilli

            Wanted to update what we did - we are back in the Bay area and had some amazing meals.

            Cipolla Rossa- terrific suggestion. Great service, fun, very good food.

            Al Tranvai- long walk but worth it! Best fried zucchini blossoms ever (with apologies to my grandmother), absolutely perfectly executed with very crisp batter, well salted. Excellent peposo, which I hadn't seen anywhere else.

            ZEB's- went here for lunch, Small, very upscale, service was a little cold at first- but outstanding food. Large ravioli stuffed with potato, sausage and cheese in an outstanding meat sauce; fettucinne with pear sauce, nice reds by the glass.

            Great trip, great food, thanks for the suggestions!

            1. re: MarinBob

              Thanks for reporting back in!
              Glad that all the suggestions worked out.


          2. Hi MarinBob!

            Thanks for this feedback - Im headed to Florence in November and was wondering if reservations are essential at all of these places?

            4 Replies
            1. re: themiguel

              I always call and reserve a table- easy to do, and not only does it get you a better table, the owners always seem to really appreciate it when you get there. Most of these places were pretty crowded, especially if you go later, i.e. after 8:30 or so.

              1. re: MarinBob

                Thanks for the heads up - Im portuguese so can understand most written italian, but speaking it is another matter - and am nervous about calling in to these places in english. Maybe I can simply get help from our lodging.

                1. re: themiguel

                  I used Italian when I called - and found out almost all of them speak English, so that would work too.

                  1. re: themiguel

                    I asked the hotel we stayed at to call and make some reservations in advance. For one place that was hard to get into, they made them about a week in advance (Vini e Vecchi Sapori). But to MarinBob's point, most places speak (rather good) english, calling shouldn't be that much of a problem, especially if you start off in Italian.
                    I also made a reservation at Il Santo Benvitore via email; they sent a confirmation email back, which was nice. I really loved my meal there btw, I'd recommend going.