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Feb 13, 2014 12:59 PM

Florences top restaurants for splurge meal?

Heading to Firenze in early May and am wanting suggestions and reviews of best meals for one or two splurge dinners. Considering the following:

-Cibreo ristorante
-Cantinetta Antinori
-Il Sant Bevitore

I want seriously experiences for all or any of these places, good or bad! The reviews I read are so, so mixed that I am boggled!! We are true enjoyers of fine food, I myself being a chef in NOLA. One peeve is fine dining with a speck of food on an enormous plate. and not a big fan of a seven or eight course tasting menu.
If I'm paying top dollar, I want to leave satisfied!
so, all being said, Please help us with your ideas .Thanks!

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  1. I've never been a fan of Cibreo. It's a charming atmosphere but my feeling is that he takes extremely simple, rustic food, prepares it earlier in the day, then reheats it and puts it on a plate for an extraordinary amount of money.

    I love Santo Bevitore, esepcially the two smaller dining rooms which are a bit more relaxed and quiet. The food is inventive, with out being overly stuffy, and they have a great wine list. But its not really a splurge dinner.

      1. well- i adore cibreo-- but it is not a "normal" restaurant-- no pasta and no steaks for things cooked to order-- he takes mom food to a restaurant level. fabulous wine cantina. i consider it our chez panisse- normally i place i take chefs when i am touring. the food is the same but half the price in the trattoria ( a few less things on the menu)

        we have Ora di Aria-- michelin star chef---

        sometimes i think that the simple classics are where tuscan food shines-- like trattoria Sostanza.

        ( i worked as a pastry chef in a 5 star hotel in san francisco before moving here in 1984)

        Cantinetta Antinori is a classic---

        1. I can warmly endorse Cibreo; I last ate here two years ago.

          Cantinetta Antinori I found good; it is really the place to try one of their wines and then find food to match it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sidcundiff

            we also have a new michelin star restaurant- ORA DI ARIA- lighter less expensive lunches- near the Uffizi


            1. re: Diva

              As people who like simple Italian food (e.g. Buca della Orafo or Trattoria La Casalinga which are very different from each other, or Casa del Vino for a perfect sandwich), we found Ora di Aria hopelessly "messed with" and unappealing. We are vegetarian/pescatarian, so our choices were limited.

              We do enjoy all the Cibreo places, especially the Cafe and Teatro del Sale.

              1. re: DavyTheFatBoy

                To a large extent it really depends upon your expectations; if what you're looking for is something that seems to capture the essence of traditional Florentine cooking one set of choices is likely to satisfy, but if what you're looking for is something that aspires to the elite level of cookery a different set of choices applies. It will be said that usually it's the latter category that fits under the "splurge" designation.

                Buca dell' Orafo is the kind of restaurant that probably comes close to a certain mental image that I'm sure a lot of people have when they think of "Italian" or "Tuscan" - both in atmosphere and in food. It's definitely in the traditional idiom, and the dishes are probably fairly authentic. Quality I would say is upper-midrange, that is to say very good but I wouldn't say they're obsessed with maximum possible quality nor have I had anything there that I would consider sublime. It's not really in the category of a "splurge" - in the sense of offering the very, very best without compromise that Florence has to offer but it's a great choice if what you want is something quintessentially Florentine.

                Ora D'Aria might be considered Tuscan food in a modern idiom. Marco Stabile makes more than a nod to local tradition and is obsessive in using local ingredients, but it can't be called food drawn from the traditional Florentine canon. Atmosphere is likewise modern and refined rather than traditional and convivial. In terms of quality it's a quantum leap above Buca dell'Orafo in almost every sense, and I've definitely had dishes there I would consider sublime. There can be no question it's in the category of "splurge" and yes, you will have to splurge for it; the prices are significantly above even most of the high end in Florence.

                Cibreo seems to be attempting to recreate the atmosphere and traditional style of somewhere like Buca dell' Orafo while reaching for the food quality of an Ora d'Aria. Unfortunately for me at least it achieves neither, in part because the menu is decidedly idiosyncratic; it might be thought of as "forgotten Tuscan", in part because the atmosphere comes off as vaguely generic and pastiche. I've not had anything sublime there either, and at the prices - definitely in the splurge range - they should be getting much closer to that than Buca dell' Orafo. That's not to say Cibreo is bad, indeed, it's an interesting choice, but you have to go there without excessive expectations or you'll be disappointed.

          2. Thank you all for the advice and opines.
            I feel that I have a good grasp on my Firenze dining, and now, I am onto my country and day trip choices.
            Will be in Greve as a base for 6 days and will day visit:
            -Montepulciano and Pienza
            - Arezzo
            - Radda, Castellina, Gaiole
            -possibly Sienna

            Once again , looking for the best in these places, all lunches, farm to table, etc. Food style not such a concern, just looking to have memorable lunches
            Please help!

            1 Reply
            1. re: russspezial

              You should repost this question about Tuscany as a separate thread to get some responses. Otherwise people won't notice it.