FIGuide

The Best Restaurants In Florence

Classic trattorias, fantastic steak, and where to eat like a local.
Spread of steak and sides at Trattoria Ruggero

photo credit: Sofie Delauw

Florence is a whole hell of a lot in a very small place. But beyond the main squares filled with perfectly sculpted statues of naked men, groups of camera-wielding tourists, and annoying street performances are a ton of worthy detours, including some of the best food and handmade gelato in the city.

Locals might say that things aren’t the same as they once were. And while that’s true, the city’s food options are better for it. You'll still find classic Florentine institutions serving the rarest and most tender steak you’ll ever have, but nowadays, those spots are around the corner from experimental tasting menu spots and fancy cocktail bars.

When it comes to picking a restaurant, avoid anything that's a stone’s throw from the Duomo. Instead, concentrate on areas like Sant’Ambrogio, or the other side of the river, the Oltrarno, where you'll find a lot of the spots on this guide. And remember: Good places fill up easily for lunch and dinner, so reservations are a must for almost every place on this list.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Oscar Covini

Italian

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You’re not going to stumble into Da Burde. It’s closer to the airport than Michelangelo’s David, but it’s worth the trek for some really good Florentine cuisine, unabashedly served only for lunch (and for dinner on Friday). The family behind it has been running the place since 1901, and the current generation is just as feisty as the last. Once you step inside, you’ll be greeted by a delicatessen counter and grocery corner for those who want to drop in for some to-go cured meats, a slice of cake, or some gossip about just how long Florence will take to build their next train line. Go a little further and you’ll enter the dining room that’s full of really old art on the walls and locals snacking on chicken liver crostini. They do hearty Tuscan classics justice, like pasta e fagioli, ribollita, mixed-meat bollito (expect a bit of cow tongue), and pappa al pomodoro.

Alla Vecchia Bettola is a neighborhood trattoria that feels like a party, and it’s worth going beyond the historical center to have dinner here. We’d like to write an ode to their namesake pasta: al dente penne soaked in a creamy vodka tomato sauce with a spicy kick to it. The crowd is made up of local best friends slapping each other on the back, retirees catching up after summer break, and, naturally, tourists. It’s a fun, chaotic place where it’s easy to linger at the communal tables covered in straw bottles of Chianti. This is also a good spot to get Florentine’s signature bistecca, served rare with just salt, pepper, and a nice crust, and so tender you can cut it with a butter knife.

There are plenty of tourist traps firmly camped out in Florence’s main squares, which makes Vini e Vecchi Sapori a bit of an anomaly. It’s the safest (and best) bet near Piazza della Signoria for both lunch and dinner. This old tavern features walls full of vintage photographs and marble-topped wooden tables pushed close together, and is filled with loud Italians catching up over Tuscan staples. Whatever you do, don't ask for an Aperol spritz—they have a big section on the menu that reads “no pizza, no ice, no takeaway, spritz or cappuccino.” It’s a refreshing departure from the many places in the city that only cater to an Italy that only exists on TikTok. This is a great place to try peposo, a warm-you-up beef stew braised in local wine and slow-cooked with black pepper, but they also do exceptional pasta like paccheri in a sauce of zucchini flowers and saffron or the pappardelle with duck sauce.

photo credit: Sofie Delauw

Sabatino is a bit like your grandpa who still insists on writing checks—they simply refuse to change how they do things (and of course, this is why we love them). The Buccioni family has been running this San Frediano timewarp since 1956 with terracotta floors, a daily typewritten menu, and rusty Tuscan agriculture tools hanging on the walls. If it feels like everyone in the neighborhood knows them, that’s because they probably do. Bankers and construction workers sit next to each other in the cavernous communal dining space, flinging around greetings and sarcasm, and digging into thick-cut slices of Tuscan salami with perfectly ripe figs. Everything is delicious, but don’t expect any fancy garnishes or presentations—dining here is really like sitting down with the Italian family you wish you had. Get here at noon to secure a spot.

Florence is no stranger to popular sandwich places—yes, we’re talking about All’Antico Vinaio and its lines longer than the entrance to the Uffizi. But for our favorite panino, head to Retrobottega near Piazza della Signoria. Unlike the city’s other sandwich spots, they have (gasp, shock) space to sit inside and a great Happy Hour where you can snack on some crostini and sip a glass of organic wine as you take down an affordable panini. Order the Bambola with salty, crunchy schiacciata and watch them assemble your masterpiece with slices of mortadella, pistachio pesto, and a zing of lime zest. We also like the Sloppy Rob that’s stuffed with delicious pulled beef cooked slowly in red wine and served with crunchy onions and homemade honey mustard.

Trattoria Ruggero is just outside the city’s walls beyond Porta Romana. So while it might be a little bit of a walk (it’s roughly 20 minutes from the Ponte Vecchio), it’s worth checking out this rustic Tuscan restaurant where locals have been loudly clinking glasses of wine and shouting over each other for over 40 years. The handwritten menus can be slightly hard to read, so let us be of assistance: start with some classic earthy Tuscan liver pate, tack on an order of carrattiera spicy tomato pasta, and follow it all up with the arista, a huge plate of slow-roasted pork loin with seasonal vegetables. Also worth noting is the very satisfying ribollita—a centuries-old soup recipe that’s made with cabbage, white beans, stale bread, and vegetables. Go during Sunday lunch and don’t be afraid to slurp the broth from your tortellini in brodo amongst all the Oltrarno locals catching up after a long week. Reservations (by phone) are a must.

Here’s a quick cow stomach lesson for you: Don’t confuse lampredotto, the cow’s fourth stomach and Florence’s famous street food, for tripe. Lampredotto, which resembles roast beef visually and is less chewy than tripe, is typically cooked in an aromatic broth, then chopped up and stuffed in a panino. It's often topped with herb and chili sauce and sold at kiosks around the city. Magazzino is the only osteria in Florence that does this kind of street food in a more formal restaurant, along with some interesting fusiony dishes. Come for dinner to try ravioli packed with seasoned lampredotto and topped with a sweet onion sauce, and bites like tempura fried lampredotto sushi. The restaurant feels like most traditional Tuscan restaurants with rustic furnishings, vintage photos lining the walls, and neighborhood-specific coat of arm-like flags.

Club Culinario is the top option near Santa Croce, perfect for either lunch or dinner. They really excel at homey Tuscan food and warm and welcoming service, and it’s not impossible to land a table last minute. This is a special place for hard-to-find salami and delicious cheeses alongside nearly forgotten dishes, like Tuscany’s mountainous chestnut flour pancake pasta with pesto and Etruscan-style wild game meats like tender squab roasted with aromatics. Don’t miss the desserts, either—they do a great classic tiramisu and have hyper-regional sweets like Sardinian saeda pastry pockets dripping with local honey.

This trattoria has been serving comfort food from the Tuscan culinary vault to tourists and locals in the Oltrarno since 1950. And it’s a total crowd-pleaser thanks to its varied menu full of must-try classics like pappardelle with game meat ragu and tender rare Florentine steaks, along with an amazing plate of braised artichokes doused in meat sauce and baked onions swimming in a salty parmigiano fondue. The dining room is huge, which makes it great for big groups—especially when finding accommodation for something like a wedding party or work dinner can be a mission in Florence. There’s exposed brick and wood beams with straw-lined fiasco bottles to match the rest of its kitschy Tuscan furnishings, so it’s the perfect Florentine time capsule to think about when you’re back home.

With themed menus, frescos in a former noble family palace, and a bar with an open-air vertical garden, Locale is one of the more fun fine dining spots in all of Italy, not just Florence. Start with the city’s most unique Negroni remixed with vermouth kombucha and floral bitters poured over hand-carved ice blocks. Be sure to get an order of grilled radicchio, chestnut honey, and giardiniera panini from their bar food menu before moving onto the mains. Everything coming out of the kitchen here is going to be excellent, but nothing feels overly serious. We’ve tried dishes like creamy squid ink risotto, wild mushroom tarts with juniper sorbet, and vegetarian porchetta with beets, rainbow chard, and green apple. You’ll definitely need a reservation, but for a fun experimental dinner, this one is worth the effort.

Sostanza has a menu that hasn’t changed since it opened in 1869, and it’s one of those places that everyone knows, maybe a little too well. But the experience is so Florentine, serving up dishes you can’t find anywhere else, that you kind of have to try it at least once. Specifically for the chicken that's seared in a butter bath over hot coals and served in the steel pan it was cooked in. Plus, they do the staples well, like a Florentine steak served with sage and tomato stewed beans and meringue cake layered with cream, dark chocolate chips, and a scattering of tiny wild strawberries. The tiny space is filled with vintage portraits decorating the walls and marble-topped dining benches, and it’s run seamlessly with proud career waiters squeezing by elbow-to-elbow diners with sizzling pots of butter chicken. They’re only open on weekdays, so book this for lunch, ideally during the shoulder season for a less chaotic meal.

Anyone who's been to Florence has likely been to Cammillo (open since 1945), and they probably still remember deep diving into their signature tagliatelle with cream, prosciutto, and peas, or having a long leisurely bistecca lunch. Now, it skews touristy and it’s a bit harder to get into (book at least two weeks in advance), but the charm and quality are still there. The bow-tied servers are as much part of the restaurant’s history and identity as the food itself, and they’ll never pass up an opportunity to tease you if you order a cappuccino after lunch. Focus your attention on the daily specials and don’t miss anything fried, especially the zucchini flowers and porcini mushrooms. It’s pricier than other old-school Tuscan restaurants, but it’s a Florence institution with a superb bistecca steak—rich, tender, buttery—and an amazing tiramisu.

This see-and-be-seen cafe in Sant’Ambrogio is straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, complete with an aloof staff and red velvet interiors. It’s an all-day establishment, but the action always seems to happen in the morning, which is when you should visit. Join the locals who stop by for creamy cappuccinos and custard-stuffed budino before heading to the nearby market to shop. Lunch on the terrace is also a good option, where you can watch the neighborhood action before digging into some turmeric-infused yogurt pudding dip or a creamy plate of cacio and butter pasta.

Yes, this restaurant is owned by Gucci and Italy’s most famous chef, Massimo Bottura. And it’s a top tasting menu spot where you'll encounter Chinoiserie porcelain and creative dishes like spaghetti inspired by Sicily’s cannoli with a dreamy pistachio pesto. The food is really all over the place, though, thanks to their current chefs from Mexico City and Tokyo, and they often host dinners with restaurants from around the world. In addition to twists on Italian classics and rotating seasonally-themed menus, expect things like Mexican ceviche tostadas and Japanese pork belly buns filled with Cinta Senese pigs from Siena that have similar levels of fame to the Pope. Even though this is a fine dining spot, it’s not stuffy, but rather cheerful and bright with modern chic plush seating, eye-catching Art Nouveau accents, and green tones everywhere. This is Gucci, after all.

Florence suffers from over-tourism, so we can’t really deny (or blame) the fact that restaurants have notoriously grumpy restaurant service. But Osteria dell’Enoteca couldn’t be more different. They serve one of the best steaks in town, all while the staff smiles and cracks jokes when explaining where they source their charcuterie and how proud they are of the wine they carry. Even those who are skeptical of anything liver-related will fight over the buttery terrine with a Vinsanto reduction, and the ravioli with peposo is rich but balanced with hints of thyme. The star of the show is that thick-cut Florentine T-bone steak that’s a couple of fingers high and cooked over an open grill for a few minutes on each side. All they add is a little salt and the result is a juicy slab best washed down with an aged Chianti Classico to cut squarely through the fat. The Osteria is also located near the Boboli Gardens, which makes for a perfect after-dinner stroll.

This family-run natural wine bar and bistro isn’t where you come to solely drink fruity gamays or other carbonic macerated pours. It’s a part of Florence’s new wave of modern wine bistros that serve Tuscan food with a sprinkling of French. Think whipped baccala spread on toasted brioche, fresh pastas rolled out in-house and tossed with juniper-accented hare ragu, wine-braised beef cheek, and sourdough instead of the usual saltless Tuscan bread served around town. Spontanea’s warmly lit dining room with eccentric ’70s retro details has a handful of tables typically full of locals laughing, chatting, and knocking back glasses, and it’s generally pretty cheery in here. It works for either a full meal or an apertivo hour—whenever you come by, say hi to Nicola (the owner and somm) and always trust his wine recommendations.

Nugolo in Sant'Ambrogio is like a farmer’s market inside a greenhouse—the space overflows with plant life, sparkly lights, and glass jars of homemade tomato sauce and chutneys. The menu ventures off from the Tuscan norm, with dishes like their bouquet-inspired celery root carpaccio over a bed of perfectly spiced red onion creme and served with pomegranate and crunchy hazelnuts. Don’t miss their satisfying menu staple, the chitarra Nugolo pasta starter made with a fragrant and silky tomato pomorola sauce sourced from the owner’s garden and sprinkled with salty ricotta. And the decadent tarte tatin paired with sour cream will have you breaking any promise you’ve ever made to skip dessert. Another bonus is a well-curated wine list made up of hard-to-find small Italian producers.

Essenziale is a top-tier, new-school modernist Tuscan restaurant. It’s a place where you’ll find carbonara with bonito flakes and whipped tofu instead of the usual yolk and pecorino emulsion, along with a pecorino grilled cheese with heirloom tomato soup and wild mushrooms made into a fried patty that reminds us of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich. All the food is interesting and delicious, the adjustments on the classics usually work, and they even have multiple set menus that range from cheap and more casual to a seven-course tasting that’s under €100. Go with the lasagna nachos when you’ve had your fill of bistecca and pici. The atmosphere is very industrial with lots of metal, and would probably fit in just fine in San Francisco or Berlin.

There’s plenty of pizza in town, but Giotto is a standout for the attention to detail in every single pie. They’re very particular about the dough—they use stone-ground wheat germ flour that’s left to rise for 36 hours, resulting in an airy Napolitano-style puffy yet light crust that’s the perfect canvas for the quality toppings. Try and snag a table near the open kitchen where you can get a close-up view of the pizzaiolos sliding each pie into the wood-burning oven. Start with a few crunchy fried appetizers, like the mini pasta frittata and arancini, and then prioritize the Naples to Florence pie—it’s all about the tart combination of the tomato sauce, 24-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano, salty capers, and anchovies, which all get drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. To finish, bite into the aptly named “homage to margherita” which features a madeleine base with buffalo mozzarella cream, tomato jam, basil, and a caramelized cream puff cornice.

You’re in Italy, so of course you need somewhere for pre-dinner drinks and snacks. This former wine cellar turned wine bar in Oltrarno is your spot. The space inside might be limited, but it never feels too overcrowded, and it's about as fun and sceney as Florence gets—couples nudge their way to first base in the corner, and locals spill out of the cave-like dining room into the street, glasses in hand, when there’s no more room. They have interesting wines by the glass from under-the-radar producers, so skip a bottle and try a few different varieties. We love their capocollo and pecorino cheese from Pienza that hits just right with a spicy mostarda. The hearty crostini are also a must, especially the hot cheese and spicy sausage combination that’ll have you ordering that extra last glass.

Sure, there are Italy-shaped limoncello bottles and statue of David pasta souvenirs at the Mercato Centrale, Florence’s central market. Avoid all that, the student crowds, and tour groups and head to Da Nerbone for lunch. The casual stand opened in 1873 and is one of the last remnants of old Florence in the market serving street food classics like lampredotto, the city’s famed stomach sandwich, stewed bollito panini, and bowls of ribollita soup. It’s one of the few places where you’ll see local blue-collar workers and tourists together, and it’s worth waiting for any of those dishes in the constant line. They also do pretty good plates of roast turkey and wild boar pappardelle pasta if you don't want to put some stomach in your stomach.

Ara’ e’ Sicilia is a fast-casual Sicilian place in Sant’Ambrogio with a small patio on the street that’s good for lunch. You’re coming specifically for the plump arancini stuffed with meaty ragu and melted cheese, plus a cannoli or an icy lemon granita to top things off. You can use it as a spot to refuel after a tour of Florence’s Synagogue or the Santa Croce cathedral since it’s near both, but we like it best to grab some snacks for a picnic at the park just down the street or along the Arno.

When it comes to restaurants in Florence, nobody is doing the kind of quality vegan and vegetarian dishes that you'll find at Libreria Brac, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spot on a small street close to the Arno River. Not to mention also operating as a space that has books, good coffee, and interesting wine. The menu changes frequently, but you’ll always find seasonal pastas, variations on lasagna, salads, and vegan options that pack a punch—their homemade seitan is an explosion of cumin, cloves, coriander, and kombu seaweed. Potato-stuffed tortellini are a Tuscan staple, but Brac makes it their own by adding ginger, spicy tomato sauce, arugula pesto, and plenty of herbs. Snag a spot on the courtyard that makes you feel like you’re on an acid trip or simply miles away from the Ponte Vecchio crowds.

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