The food in Florence has many of the flavors and ingredients that you may be familiar with if you’ve tried Italian cuisine, but it also has some distinct characteristics. Because of a 16th-century trade dispute with Pisa, the bread is made with little to no salt.
Despite the fact that the salt embargo has been lifted for a long time, Florentine bread is still made without salt, and other traditional dishes are made with bold flavors to complement the saltless bread.
One of the city’s signature dishes is bistecca Alla Fiorentina (a T-bone steak); you’ll also find many places that make use of truffles (a personal fave!), and there are a lot of street food options to snag a panino…or your third gelato of the day. Let me tell you, it’s easy to fall in love with the flavors of Tuscany.
Definitely check out my guide to eating like a local in Italy for a deeper dive into all the flavors of Italy and food culture.
Here’s where to find the best food in Florence, Italy!
Italian Vocabulary to Know
You’ll see the following terms used for many restaurants and eateries, so here’s a quick dive into what they mean!
- Osteria: An Italian restaurant, typically a simple or inexpensive one
- Trattoria: Traditionally family-owned restaurants that serve rustic Italian cuisine with fresh and local ingredients
- Ristorante: A full-service restaurant
- Enoteca: A wine shop or bar that traditionally serves no food
*image courtesy of La Giostra
Florentine T-bone Steak
This cozy eatery only has 16 tables, so you’ll want to make sure you get a reservation if you want to visit. The space that houses La Giostra formerly served as a house and workshop for the local carousel, the history of which is documented throughout the space.
Depending on the way the space and the tables are arranged for the evening, you might share a table with other diners which might include other travelers or some friendly locals. It’s a great way to meet new friends and get some insider tips on the best things to do in the city.
Save room for homemade desserts, especially the tiramisu, which will rival any you can get through the city.
Via S. Miniato
For traditional pizza in Florence, you can’t go wrong at I Pizzacchiere. From the more familiar Pizza Margherita to varieties with a more local flair, this pizzeria has all the bases covered.
It’s also a great value for money so don’t be afraid to order multiple pizzas if you’re in a group so that you can all try a few different options. Friendly, welcoming staff will round out your experience and make you want to return for more than just the pizza.
*image courtesy of Osteria dell’Enoteca
A delightful dining room with rustic exposed brick and modern finishes throughout awaits you at Osteria dell’Enoteca.
The menu is filled with classic Italian flavors that have a modern spin, and you can see their expertise in their hand-made pasta, expertly prepared proteins, and carefully curated antipasti.
Save room for some in-house desserts and check out the extensive wine list for plenty of delightful pairings. If you don’t have time to do a full dinner here, you can try their wine bar experience for a taste of what makes this rustic eatery so great.
Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi
*photo courtesy of Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi
Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi
Cheeses & Truffles
Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi provides a once-in-a-lifetime kind of culinary experience where high-end finishes surround traditional Florence flavors on each and every plate.
The carefully curated menu highlights the best local ingredients and the presentation is a work of art. Truffles and wine are not unfamiliar at Degusteria Italiana agli Uffizi, and are just some of the luxe ingredients you might encounter during your meal.
It’s a fantastic date spot — or just the perfect place to treat yourself to a memorable dining experience.
*image courtesy of Trattoria Cammillo
Off Ponte Vecchio
Trattoria Cammillo, a 75-year-old eatery along the Arno River in Florence, serves classic meals with the genuine and warm welcome you’d expect from a family restaurant that has been open for three generations. Allow the black and white marble flooring to welcome you, as well as the immaculate white linen tablecloths.
Main courses are prepared on an open fire grill, with typical accompaniments such as house-fade foie gras and pasta dishes like house-made spaghetti garnished with cherry tomatoes and spring garlic.
This is a true family business, right down to the wine selection, where the house red is prepared by the owner’s brother. Don’t miss the tiramisu, which, like the rest of the sweets, is made fresh on the premises.
Via Damiano Chiesa
Pallaio is a beloved local spot where you’ll find more Florentines than tourists along with an impressive menu of wood-fired pizza, local meats, and fresh pastas.
The menu is extensive and may not be available in a language outside of Italian, but the friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to assist and recommend dishes. If the weather is nice, be sure to take advantage of the outdoor seating options.
Fattoria Rossi Firenze
Fattoria Rossi Firenze
First and foremost, make sure to get a reservation; Fattoria Rossi Firenze is a place to be and if you don’t have a reservation, you may be turned away if they are booked for the night.
The menu features simple smaller plates, but they are well thought out with care put into every ingredient. The relationship the owners have with local meat, cheese, and wine producers will make sure you are getting the best of the best.
Don’t worry if you can’t decide what to order — you can take most things to go so it’s always better to order too much instead of too little.
Il Bufalo Trippone
Palazzo del Bargello
Delicious food, excellent wine, and a total cost that doesn’t break the bank? You’ll find it all at Il Bufalo Trippone! Sandwiches, wine, and local meats with cheese fill the menu at this small local favorite.
Be ready to wait in line as this small shop will fill up fast, but don’t worry because you can get most things to go, and people who do manage to snag a seat tend to eat and leave.
Pizza with all the toppings
Pizza isn’t just any old dish at Gustarium – it’s an art form!
The rectangular pies feature a light and airy yet slightly charred crust, which rises for two full days before being baked.
The creative selection of toppings can vary daily, and you can easily sample as many varieties as you want because each piece is sold by weight — it can be as big or small as you would like. The seating is limited inside but turns over quickly enough, so try to grab a table and enjoy your pizza with a glass of prosecco.
Osteria Filetto d'oro
*image courtesy of Osteria Filetto d’oro
Osteria Filetto d'oro
Wild Boar Ragu
Osteria Filetto d’oro has everything you could want and more for an authentic Florence dining experience, complete with close tables, exposed brick walls, and a wait staff that knows their way around the menu.
Although the costs are lower than some of the other restaurants on our list, don’t be fooled; each dish has powerful traditional flavors. You won’t be able to choose just one thing for yourself, so order a few things to share.
It’s also a great lunch spot — some of the items on the menu are better portioned for a midday meal and their sandwich counter makes for a great casual to-go option.
Fagioli Bianchi Lessi
For a taste of old-school Italian home cooking, check out Trattoria Sabatino. Family-owned and operated for over 60 years, the friendly staff here will treat you like family — which means that you won’t leave hungry!
One of the highlights of the menu is the fagioli bianchi lessi, which is a dish consisting of Tuscan white beans seasoned with olive oil and salt.
You can add a protein like chicken to it if you’d like — the result is the ultimate comfort food. Everything else on the menu is great, and the service is efficient. No matter what you order, you’ll leave Trattoria Sabatino completely satisfied.
L'insolita Trattoria Tre Soldi
Treat yourself to a tasting menu of anywhere from 5 – 15 courses at this Michelin-reviewed restaurant in Florence.
Although the exact menu varies depending on what ingredients are the freshest at any given time, you can expect a fusion of modern and classic Italian flavors each and every time you visit.
L’insolita Trattoria Tre Soldi has an impressive wine menu and is a little bit off-the-beaten-path, so consider taking a taxi to the restaurant so you can fully indulge.
Osteria Vecchio Cancello
*image courtesy of Osteria Vecchio Cancello
Osteria Vecchio Cancello
Florence Historic Center
Bistecca Alla Fiorentina
Osteria Vecchio Cancello is the place to go for one Florence’s signature dish, the bistecca Alla Fiorentina, which is a T-bone steak seasoned with black volcanic salt. The indoor garden at this gorgeous eatery features a mosaic, and it’s the ideal setting for enjoying this regional favorite.
There are also some lighter options on the menu, like bruschetta and handmade pasta. Don’t forget to browse the wine list for the perfect red or white to pair with your meal.
Can’t decide what to get? The staff is friendly and always happy to provide recommendations!
Via del Cronaca
For some of the freshest seafood in Florence, you can’t go wrong with Cucina Conviviale. The menu features fresh ingredients, and even if you don’t like seafood, there’s plenty to enjoy.
For example, pizza! The high quality of fresh ingredients extends to the pizza dough, which is made in-house daily. The interiors of Cucina Convivale are light and airy, with high ceilings and plenty of light fixtures that ensure your dining experience is as bright as possible.
Piazza del Mercato Centrale
Whatever You Fancy!
While this isn’t a restaurant in the traditional sense, it’s definitely a place where you’re going to find some incredible Florentine food!
Mercato Centrale Firenze in San Lorenzo dates back to the 19th century and underwent a makeover in 2014 which included a complete revamping of the second floor which is now a contemporary food hall.
The first floor remains a fantastic market where vendors of all kinds can set up shop. You can buy fresh seafood, meat, produce, and more before heading up to the food hall upstairs.
Osteria del Fiore
*image courtesy of Osteria del Fiore
Osteria del Fiore
For great food and an unforgettable setting, head to the Osteria del Fiore which is located near the Duomo of Florence.
Enjoy the ambiance that’s rich in culture and history while you enjoy dishes like the T-bone steak, the bistecca Alla Fiorentina, and Tuscan-style potatoes. In addition to the steak, the osteria serves up a delicious selection of dishes that are garnished with truffles, like the ravioli.
The dining area is outdoors so keep that mind when you’re deciding when to visit.
If you’re looking for a place to grab lunch on the go, head to All’Antico Vinaio. Its reputation precedes it and you’ll probably see the line of people waiting to order before you see the actual restaurant itself.
Don’t let that discourage you — it’s popular because it really is that good!
As for what kind of food All’Antico Vinaio offers, you’ll be able to order hearty sandwiches that are full of bold yet balanced flavors. For a special treat, try one of the four Truffle sandwiches.
Tips for Finding the Best Gelato
So much gelato…so little time!
If you’re hoping to try some gelato when you’re in Florence, the opportunities abound! While it’s difficult to go wrong with gelato (it’s kind of like pizza — even when it’s not great pizza, it’s still pretty good because it’s pizza…you know?).
That said, I do have a few tips when it comes to finding the best gelato in Florence.
Consider the Current Season
The best gelato shops will use fresh, seasonal ingredients so you’ll want to consider what ingredients would be included in that when you’re browsing the menu at a gelato shop.
Although some flavors are pretty standard throughout the year (think chocolate and vanilla), there are others that will be significantly better at specific times, and expert gelato makers will take advantage of the times when the ingredients are freshest — think fruit flavors!
Can You See It?
Can you see the actual gelato from the street or is it hidden away in metal containers?
In this case, the gelato being hidden away and out of sight from outside the store is probably a good thing!
You’re likely going to have the best luck with gelato shops that don’t rely on gimmicks that are designed to appeal to tourists. If the gelato is back behind the counter in a metal container, that’s a good sign.
If you can see tubs of fluffy gelato from the window, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad…but there’s a chance they’re trying to appeal to tourists. There’s also a good chance if it’s packed high out of the tubs that it’s been fluffed with air (no thanks — I’d rather get the real deal!).
What Color Is It?
Look for paler colors.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you can see the gelato before you order, check how vivid the colors are. The paler and more subdued the color, the more likely it is that the coloring comes from natural ingredients rather than from artificial additives.
If it’s bright blue or super saturated and packed with toppings, again, they’re trying to appeal to tourists. I’m all for finding places the locals go as they typically know where to find the best stuff. 🙂
Where to Find the Best Gelato in Florence
Now, onto the fun stuff: the gelato shops in Florence!
Near Piazza della Signoria
This historic ice cream parlor first opened in 1939 and has been making traditional Italian gelato ever since. The gelato is made out of only the finest base ingredients which include milk, cream, and eggs, and the fresh fruit and other mix-ins are carefully selected for the best and most memorable flavors.
Perchè no!… is owned and operated by The Cammilli family, who has been carefully preserving the legacy of this Florentine gelato establishment for over 25 years.
Next to Galleria dell’Accademia
My Sugar is a hole-in-the-wall gelateria that makes only the finest artisanal product. It’s located just three minutes away from iconic Florentine attractions like the Palazzo Medici Riccardi and the Cenacolo di Sant’Apollonia, which is the former convent where the iconic Last Supper painting by Andrea del Castagno is located.
My Sugar features a mouthwatering array of flavors that rotate throughout the year.
You can find staples like chocolate and pistachio on a daily basis but their seasonal flavors are always worth checking out. One of the favorite signature flavors here is the Malaga, which is made from sweet marsala wine and raisins.
Via Isola delle Stinche
A place that has been serving up gelato for 90 years has to be doing something right, and in Vivoli’s case, the answer is pretty clear from the minute you step inside. All of their flavors are made fresh daily, and they never use artificial flavors or coloring — the ingredients are all-natural.
Round off your experience with one of the other sweet treats offered here, like a zuccotto, which is a Florentine favorite that is made out of ice cream and cake doused in alchermes liquor. It’s said that the dome shape of this iconic dessert is inspired by the Duomo of Florence.
Gelateria Dei Neri
Via dei Neri
In 1989, a tired tourist bus driver partnered with a real estate agent to revitalize a local gelateria that had seen seven owners in seven years. Nothing seemed to really stick until the duo took over Gelateria Dei Neri and dug deep to figure out what would make the local shop stand out.
The creative menu today features locally-sourced ingredients in decadent flavors like pistachio ricotta and lemon cheesecake.
Piazza Nicola Demidoff
There’s so much more than just gelato available at Vivaldi, a local favorite that can be found in Florence’s historic center. Come for a light meal, fresh-made cheesecake, and some of the best coffee and tea in the city — it’s perfect for a midday pick-me-up!
You probably won’t see too many tourists here, and the staff will be happy to answer your questions to help you pick what flavor to order. If you’re not sure, I recommend the pistachio.
Not only is it a popular choice, but it is naturally flavored and features freshly chopped nuts.
Gelateria Santa Trinita
Ponte Santa Trinita
While you’ll find some classic flavors at Gelateria Santa Trinita, the unique flavors really pop. The crisp and tangy pink grapefruit is super refreshing on a hot day, and the sesame flavor has a sweet and nutty flavor that is just mild enough.
Grab a cup or cone and enjoy it on one of the benches out front, or venture onto the nearby Santa Trinita Bridge for a scenic experience. Just across the bridge is the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, which houses exhibitions about the famed shoe designer that was a favorite of stars like Audrey Hepburn.
The line here can be quite long, but it moves fast so make sure you know what you want by the time you get up to the counter.
Bonus: Take a Guided Food Tour of Florence
Can’t get enough Italian food?
I don’t blame you! I’d highly recommend going on a guided food tour of Florence to experience all of the city’s culinary delights and learn about the history and culture behind them!
This list covers just a few of the many incredible restaurants in Florence — there are so many in the city and if I didn’t mention your favorite, let me know!