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BlogGlobal cuisineBest food in Florence: what & where to eat
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Global cuisine

Best food in Florence: what & where to eat

Jan 06, 2022 by Jamie Gallerani

The city of Florence has a lot of things going for it: One of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, Renaissance-era masterpieces around every corner, and an undeniable charm that makes its walkable cobblestone streets so inviting. But, when it comes to the thing our team of experts loves most about the Tuscan capital, the answer is clear… it’s the food! Whether you set off during free time or dig in on a foodie walking tour on our Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour, you’re guaranteed to love everything you try. Every. Single. Thing. “You can walk around and end up anywhere, and it’s gonna be good,” said staffer Marina.

Here are some of the most delicious, authentic, go-back-for-seconds dishes to try on tour in Florence, and some of our team’s favorite restaurants to order them in.

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Baked goods worth writing home about

Some of the best food in Florence comes out of the city’s bakeries. No matter where you are in the city, you’re sure to come across a bakery where traditional sweets and breads are whipped up with traditional ingredients in the traditional way—and it’s worth trying them all.

The best pastries & breads to try in Florence:

  • Budino di riso from Caffè Scudieri. “We stopped at this gorgeous, historic cafe, which is situated in the piazza outside of the Duomo to enjoy our ‘second breakfast,’ a beautiful tradition in Italy,” said Go Ahead Tours President Heidi after her Food & Wine: Piedmont & Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen tour. “The perfect mid-morning pick me up: a cappuccino and the famous budino di riso, a rice pudding tart found across bakeries and cafes in Tuscany and specifically Florence. The Florentine version is made with rice, milk, eggs, butter, sugar, cream, and a little lemon zest. You can also eat it as a dessert with a Tuscan dessert wine. YUM!” (Staffer Fabrizio, a local who lives in Italy, also called this pastry out as one of his favorites!)
  • Schiacciata, a traditional Tuscan flatbread topped with a generous sprinkling of salt and extra virgin olive oil, which staffer Brittany says is one of the best bites in Florence. “We waited in a long line that stretched down the street for our chance to get our hands on some sandwiches made with this bread at All’Antico Vinaio—and it was so worth it,” she says. “I got the schiacciata del boss, which had prosciutto, pecorino cheese, and truffle cream.” (Keep reading to hear more about this staff-favorite spot!)
  • During the fall grape harvest, schiacciata con l’uva is one of the best local foods to try in Florence, Italy. This flatbread topped with sweet wine grapes is as traditional as dishes get in Florence. “We tasted this as we ate our way from Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo to Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio,” said staffer Marina after returning from her October departure of our Food & Wine Tour of Tuscany with America’s Test Kitchen. “It was super good, and I didn’t expect it to be! It was almost like a grape cake.”
  • Another must-try food in Florence? Pane Toscano from… anywhere! These loaves of bread are made without salt, so your first bite may surprise you. It’s the perfect accompaniment to flavorful soups, sauces, and salty meats and cheese—with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, of course.

A steak so good, it’s worth the splurge

Of all the food in Florence you need to try, bistecca alla fiorentina should be at the top of your list. This bone-in steak—cooked rare!—is made from prized Chianina beef, and is one of the city’s best-known dishes. “You usually don’t think of a large, juicy steak when you think of Italian food but, in Florence, this is the meal to have,” says staffer Gustavo.

Where to order a top-notch Bistecca alla Fiorentina:

  • “You can treat yourself and try an impeccable Fiorentina steak and much more by choosing the famous Buca Mario on Borgo Ognissanti,” said staffer and Italian local Fabrizio.
  • “Trying Florentine steak at Trattoria Dall’Oste is an absolute must,” said staffer Christine.
  • Francesco Vini is centrally located and was recommended by my Tour Director,” said staffer Vinciane. “Our Tour Director brought us here for a non-included lunch on my Barcelona, Southern France & the Italian Riviera tour.”

See more of the best Italian dishes that are worth the flight →

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Hearty Tuscan soups like ribollita & pappa al pomodoro

What is Florence known for, you ask? The city has a long tradition of “peasant food,” which dates back to when citizens didn’t have ready access to expensive ingredients, and instead had to get creative with the seasonal produce they cultivated from the land.

Today, some of the best Italian food in Florence still highlights the concept of “cucina povera,” or “poor cooking,” and humble ingredients from the surrounding Tuscan countryside shine in simple, flavorful, hearty dishes—including traditional soups like ribollita (a vegetable soup made from chunks of stale bread, cannellini beans, and black cabbage) and papa al pomodoro (a thick soup made by blending tomatoes with stale Tuscan bread, topped with extra virgin olive oil).

Best places to dig in to Tuscan soup during the colder months:

  • “In the San Lorenzo area, the best pappa al pomodoro in town is still served by Trattoria Mario,” said staffer and Italy local Fabrizio. “But you’ll have to eat it for lunch and pay in cash, as this very authentic, old-style place is closed in the evening and does not accept credit cards.”
  • “I ate life-changing ribollita at Trattoria Anita,” said staffer Nilsen. “I’d never had ribollita before and simply fell in love with this hearty peasant dish. It’s a creative use for all types of leftover food including stale bread. Trattoria Anita also feels a bit like stepping back in time. The table cloths are red-and-white checked with old bottles of wine lining the walls. Would love to teleport there right now.”
  • “The ribollita at Ristorante Da Mimmo is hearty, simple, classic, and perfect after a long day on tour to refuel the body and soul,” said staffer Wesley. “Pro tip: Pour a little extra virgin olive oil on to really put it *chefs kiss* over the top.”

Check out 3 reasons to visit Florence in the fall →

Ragu al cinghiale—a wild boar ragu typically served over homemade parpardelle

Florentines are known to whip up some of the best and most traditional meat-based dishes, and wild boar is one of the quintessential staples. From November through January, you’ll find hunters in the sprawling Tuscan countryside scouring the landscape for these wild pigs. This is a must for two reasons: It helps keep the boar population in check, and makes it possible for restaurants in Florence to serve a traditional ragu that’s sure to warm you up during chillier, off-season trips to Italy.

Where to order wild boar ragu in Florence:

  • I had the most delicious wild boar ragu in Locadna Fiorentina, which is right near the Duomo,” said staffer Jamie after a free night on our Venice, Florence & Rome tour. “I couldn’t decide between this and a pasta dish with mushrooms, but my waiter said that the traditional ragu was the way to go—and I’m so glad I went with his suggestion! The meat sauce was amazing, and the homemade parpardelle pasta was cooked perfectly.”
  • “I loved the wild boar ragu I had at Locadna Fiorentina so much, I tried it again the next night at Trattoria dei 13 Gobbi,” said staffer Jamie. “My Tour Director Misia suggested this restaurant, and said it was one of her personal favorites. So, I made it a point to swing by! This time, the ragu was served over penne—and again, it was absolutely delicious.”

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Truffles, truffles, and more truffles

That’s right, prepare to dig in to one of the world’s most indulgent flavors on tour in Florence: truffles! The forests in Tuscany are full of ‘em, and local chefs take full advantage of their ready access to the prized ingredient. Whether you have black truffles shaved over a pasta dish or enjoy a cream sauce drizzled with truffle-infused olive oil, any Florence food that includes truffle is guaranteed to be great.

Where to find mouthwatering truffle dishes in Florence:

  • “The best dish I had in Florence (life changing, heavenly, think about it often, BEST DISH) was tortellini with truffles, cream sauce, and ham at Trattoria Zà Zà,” said staffer Ellie.
  • “The best place to try an affordable, yet delicious plate of truffle pasta is at Florence’s Mercato Centrale,” said staffer Emily. “Like the name suggests, this market is centrally located in the city’s historic center. Head to the top floor where vendors line the outskirts of the beer hall-style venue. Then, make a beeline for Il Tartufo Luciano Savini and order the tagliolino al tartufo nero. It’s a creamy, thin pasta topped with black truffle, and boy does the fresh truffle flavor come through! I recommend enjoying the plate of pasta at the stools surrounding the stall. You can watch the chef make the food!”
  • “I absolutely love truffles, and always gravitate to truffle-flavored dishes when I see them on a menu,” said staffer Jamie. “Almost every single menu I looked at on my Venice, Florence & Rome tour included an amazing truffle dish, which made it hard to order anything else! One must-visit spot to try them is Angiolino ai 13 Arrosti—my Tour Director described the food there as ‘bellisimo.’”

Check out our insider’s guide to Italian truffle hunting →

Lampredotto & trippa alla Fiorentina—two dishes made from cow stomach that are far more delicious than they may sound!

When it comes to traditional dishes in Florence, it all goes back to peasant food sourced from the Tuscan countryside. Locals have raised and grown food on the land for centuries, and have found a way to use even the most seemingly unappealing ingredients—including lampredotto and trippa, two different parts of cow stomach. Both are slow cooked with tomatoes, and most often served on crunchy bread at outdoor food stalls. Be brave, traveler, be brave: These are two of the most quintessential foods in Florence, and they’re worth trying at least once!

Where to order trippa & lampredotto in Florence:

  • “Probably not gonna be the most popular option, but my favorite thing to get in Florence is Trippa alla Fiorentina at Da’ Vinattieri,” said staffer Adam. “You order from a window and eat on this narrow street lined with old wooden benches, and wash it all down with a glass of wine. Its cheap, traditional, and delicious!”

See more must-try foods in our Florence Travel Guide →

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A panini a day

What do you get in a city known for delicious meats, cheeses, and breads? The perfect bite when you sandwich all those ingredients together! A panini makes for an inexpensive, portable lunch during a day of sightseeing in Florence, and our team knowns just where to get the best.

Places to order the best panini in Florence:

  • “You have to try street paninis at I Due Fratellini,” said staffer Christine. “It’s just five euro for an amazing sandwich and a glass of wine you enjoy in the street.”
  • “For lunch in Florence, go to Da’ Vinattieri for a porcetta sandwich,” said staffer Joe. “It’s a little hole-in-the-wall spot that’s popular with locals, and serves authentic and affordable sandwiches.”
  • Antico Noe makes my favorite sandwiches in Florence, and they’re all around only 3–5 euro” said staffer Jamie, who just returned from our Venice, Florence & Rome tour. “I ordered the turkey, truffle sauce, and mozzarella sandwich, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tried. You can even sit at little tables outside and sip a glass of wine with your lunch.”
  • “You HAVE to check out the famous All’Antico Vinaio sandwich shop located in the heart of Florence,” said staffer Everett. “They’ll make you the most delicious mushroom, veggie, and cheese sandwich you’ve ever had on fresh-baked bread. The sandwiches are unmatched.” Staffer Nilsen agreed that you should taste just about any sandwich from All’Antico Vinaio. Both ‘The Boss’ and ‘La Summer’ were good,” he said.
  • “100,000,000% paninis from Pino’s Sandwiches in Florence, a 5–10 minute walk from the Duomo,” said staffer Lauren. “I tried whatever Pino wanted to make me plus balsamic vinegar and roasted red peppers, ALWAYS! There were tables inside, but most people took their panini to go.”
  • The Oil Shoppe is a tiny deli with the most amazing sandwiches,” said staffer Vanessa. “SO GOOD. The line stretches around the corner but it’s worth it.”

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Pizza, and pasta, and ravioli, and gnocchi…

Okay, so these staples are must-tries no matter where you are in Italy. But, like the rest of the food in Florence, you can taste some of the best in the Tuscan capital! The food scene in the city really is that good.

Where to taste the best, ahem, carbs, in Florence:

  • One can’t-miss stop? Gusta Pizza, which is just across the Arno. “Ordering a pizza here is almost a right of passage in Florence,” said staffer CJ. Staffer Reese’s favorite from this famous restaurant? “Gusta Pizza has really amazing Margherita pizzas,” she said.
  • “Try four-cheese gnocchi at Osteria Santo Spirito,” suggested staffer Nilsen. “The cheese was still bubbling when they brought it out to me. Not only is the food great, but the restaurant has outdoor seating in the beautiful Piazza Santo Spirito.”
  • “Gnocchi con gorgonzola was my all-time favorite when I visited Florence,” said staffer Alexis. It’s not a light dish since gnocchi are dumplings (and 100% contributed to the 15 pounds I gained while I studied abroad), but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. My mouth still waters thinking about the gnocchi covered in cheese sauce with a nice glass of red wine. You can’t go wrong! I always liked mine at a restaurant called Golden View. Gnocchi aren’t always on the menu, but the restaurant sits against the Ponte Vecchio, and there’s a gelato place just across the street.”
  • PaStation is a restaurant in Florence with a unique, fast-food style,” said staffer Julia. “You can order pasta on the go at the street window, or you can eat it in the restaurant. It’s a cool spot because you can see through to the kitchen and watch them create your pasta masterpiece! Build your own dish by choosing the base, type of pasta, and toppings to follow. PaStation offers other food besides pasta, but is well-known for its traditional pasta dishes—and it’s vegan friendly!”
  • “When my sister studied abroad in Florence, she said the pear ravioli at Quattro Leoni was to die for,” said staffer Reese. “It was absolutely the best dish we have ever had!” added staffer Lauren.

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A scoop (or three) of gelato

Save some room after indulging in all of the famous food in Florence, Italy—no visit to the city is complete without having a cone of gelato! The sweet treat was invented here, after all, which makes it a must-try food in Florence.

Where to get the best gelato in Florence:

  • “My go-to gelateria in Florence is La Carraia, which is also popular among Florentines as it’s a bit off the beaten path in the Oltrarno neighborhood on the other side of the Arno river,” said staffer Jen. “Don’t be fooled by the low prices. This gelato is extremely high quality, flavorful, and creamy. All flavors are great but one of my favorites is cioccolato fondente (dark chocolate). It’s rich, so you can really slow down and enjoy the flavors. The best part is you can enjoy it overlooking the Arno!”
  • Vivoli is a classic in Florence—historical, old-fashioned, and timeless,” said Tour Director Sabra. “It’s tucked away in the Santa Croce neighborhood, but it’s extremely well-known and has been raved about by visitors from all over the world.”
  • After a good amount of experience gelato-hopping in Florence, staffer Kylee raved about the refreshing flavors of Gelateria Santa Trinita. “This gelateria makes fresh gelato using quality raw ingredients,” she said. “During peak season, they can showcase up to 38 different flavors! I recommend the grapefruit and lime. Made with fresh fruit, they are incredibly refreshing.”

See an Italian Tour Director’s favorite places to get gelato in Florence →


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About the author | Jamie Gallerani
It was Jamie’s homestay in Germany that made her fall in love with travel (and her studies in Florence that really sealed the deal). When she’s not writing and sharing the magic of seeing the world with others, she’s usually on the lookout for her new favorite memoir, testing out recipes at home, or visiting her family on Cape Cod.

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