Many foodies around the world will all agree there’s nothing quite like food and drink experiences in Florence. In fact, as you’ll soon discover with one of our food tours in Florence, it’s local cuisine is almost as famous as it’s Renaissance history!
Today, food and drink is still the main focus of Italian life. Signifying everything from religious events, weddings, births and celebrations to everyday mealtimes with family and friends.
What is it about Florentine food that makes it so celebrated? Simply put, Florence’s natural cooking flair symbolises the original cooking tradition. A long history of local farmers has influenced the city’s cuisine. Appealing to cooks that often only use locally sourced ingredients to present a flavoursome, hearty, meal.
Food and Drink Experiences in Florence
As food and drink experiences in Florence will demonstrate, simple dishes don’t have to be uninspiring. Florentine cuisine proves this by ensuring fresh individual ingredients bring out the tasty sensations. Popular ingredients used in Florentine cooking includes pork, veal, pecorino cheese and freshly picked herbs such as rosemary, thyme and fennel.
Dining experiences in Florence are about relaxing and enjoying a laidback meal. In fact, dinner can easily last for over 3-hours, with a typical evening meal starting around 7:30pm. As such, remember to take this into consideration when booking a table. As many restaurants will be really busy between 8 – 9pm. However, whenever you choose to eat, Florence food experiences are sure to stimulate even the most cultivated palate!
After a long day visiting the city’s exciting activities and attractions, food and drink experiences in Florence are the perfect way to unwind. Indulge in delicious local food and wine, as you relax among the natives. You may even get to learn some interesting facts!
By exploring the back streets you will come across the rustic eateries known as “trattoria“. Traditionally, these family-run restaurants provide a superb introduction into to Tuscan cuisine. Which results in an experience that’s far better than that of a chain restaurant.
Explore Tuscan Cuisine in Florence
Tuscan food was once known as “cucina povera” or “a poor kitchen”. This was because “Nonnas” (grandmother in Italian) cooked everything home-grown on their farm. As such, keeping the cost to a minimum. Although these days, there are also an abundance of fine-dining restaurants.
As such, make sure you choose the local specialities or join a food tour in Florence for an authentic insight into the more traditional dishes.
Even if you’re a vegetarian or vegan foodie, try the likes of ribollita soup, barley salad or “Pappa con Pomodoro“. Although food and drink experiences in Florence are easily adapted for the non-meat eater. However, if you have any questions, raise any concerns before you book.
Popular Food Experiences in Florence
Food and drink experiences in Florence isn’t all about fine-dining in Michelin-starred restaurants. Nor is it just the medieval trattoria that promoting their own specialities.
An authentic street food experience in Florence can also mean “trippa” (Italian for tripe) from a local trippa cart. This sandwich filled with “trippa” is a local speciality in Florence. Mostly slow cooked with tomato, onion, parsley, and traditionally served on a fresh bread bun.
Florence is a foodie paradise, especially if you love traditional street food. The best food place to visit has got to be Nerbone. The historical eatery can be found inside the ground floor of the Central Market, in the San Lorenzo area.
Here you will find plenty of different street food dishes. Nerbone’s menu displays affordable and varied dishes from pasta to the very best lampredotto. You may have to queue for a while, but it is definitely worth it to enjoy an authentic culinary experience.
Italian Pizza in Florence
This also brings us to one of the most famous of Italian food in Florence, pizza! It is always better eaten in the form it was originally made for – a tasty street-food snack. If you are going to be sight-seeing for most of the day, there are plenty of pizza stalls on most of the major tourist routes.
However, how about preparing your own with a pizza cookery class in Florence with a wood-fired oven? This way you will get a fresh Florentine pizza that is really hot. If you still prefer someone else to do the hard work, then head off to the Mercato Centrale. As here you will find a good selection of wood-fired pizza ovens and a wide selection of traditional toppings.
It’s worth noting that the locals enjoy the market stalls just as much as food tourists. As such, be mindful you may have to queue for some of the most popular street food vendors. Although, a long line of Italians normally represents quality worth waiting for!
Traditional Cuisine of Florence
Of course, there is so much more to Italian food than just pizza and pasta.
Traditional Italian cuisine varies a lot by city and by region. As Italian dishes are becoming influenced by international cuisine, it can be a challenge to distinguish what is authentic Italian food!
As such, food tours in Florence are a great way to try out the more traditional and authentic dishes. Ones that you can only truly experience in the heart of the city. The first thing to note is that the dishes are really flavoursome and usually don’t require any extra seasoning.
Another interesting fact is that each region and city is extremely proud of their own production of extra virgin olive oil. Although, that doesn’t mean every restaurant or trattoria in Florence serves the natural local olive oil.
As such, food tours in Florence will always take you to the most authentic restaurants. We even have olive oil tasting tours and experiences available to book with tabl. As for the traditional cuisine of Florence, here are some dishes you really must try:
Florentine steak is the most recognised dish in Florence. If you’re a foodie that loves beef, then make sure you order this one. Nearly all restaurants in Florence will include it on their menu, but finding a really good Bistecca Florentina is another matter.
One of our recommendations would be a visit to Trattoria Mario. Which is a fun and lively place with a great atmosphere, without anything considered pretentious. The menu is written down on a slate, although you may need a tour guide to help translate as the waiters don’t tend to speak much English. However, the food is always incredible.
Crespelle alla Fiorentina
In Florence, pasta is often served as a starter rather than that of the main course. This particular traditional pasta dish is normally served in the form of a crêpe. The pasta is then stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach, then covered with a creamy béchamel sauce. Sometimes a spoonful of tomato sauce is added, along with a hefty portion of grated parmesan cheese.
Baccalà alla Fiorentina
This is a really tasty dish with the main ingredient being salted cod. The fish is then combined with tomatoes, onions, local wine and herbs. All of which is slowly cooked until the wine has evaporated. It can be served with toasted bread or boiled chickpeas.
Crostini Di Fegato
Crostini is a small-sized bruschetta and made with white bread (preferably not sourdough), which is then topped with homemade chicken liver pate. This is a typical Tuscan starter that is offered in most restaurants. If you wish to enjoy the dish as you’re on the move, then All’Antico Vinaio is popular among the locals. Although the serving hatch is easy to miss, as it’s literally just a hole in the wall.
This is a gorgeous vegetable and bread soup that is the essence of authentic Tuscan food. It used to be known as ‘peasant food’ as it was a soup made up of leftover vegetables and stale bread. This is purely a food and drink experience in Florence based around home comforts. Although it can also be found on most Italian menus, such as Trattoria La Casalinga situated near the Basilica di Santo Spirito.
Fagiuoli (Fagioli) all’uccelletto
The Florentines do adore their beans! This mouth-watering dish includes tomato sauce and fragrant sage – which gives it the name of all’uccelletto.
Sometimes the dish will include garlic and sausages, although whatever the combination, it is extremely tasty!
Popular Restaurants in Florence
The local gastronomy in the popular restaurants of Florence have an authentic, home-grown uniqueness. With traditional food and drink experiences in Florence influenced by the farm-to-fork heritage. Today, local chefs are sharpening their imagination and resourcefulness as much as their knives. Which, in return, results in some incredible and diverse menus.
The gastronomic brilliance in Florence is superior, with younger innovative chefs springing up all over the city. Let us take you on a culinary food tour of six of the most popular restaurants in Florence:
This decadent restaurant represents the utmost luxurious cuisine in Florence. The restaurant has various dining rooms and a historic room. The owners, Annie and Giorgio, offer a superb menu highlighting the very best of Tuscan and international cuisine. Annie is the Chef and amazingly the first woman Chef to earn three stars in Italy and the fourth woman chef to earn three stars in the world!
The restaurant can be found in a delightful Renaissance palazzo in the heart of Florence, near to the Relais Santa Croce Hotel. Wine buffs and foodies alike will be sent to heaven by Giorgio Pinchiorri’s list of vintages, mouth-watering starters, rich creamy pasta and melt in your mouth meat dishes. The desserts are to die for too!
This gastronomical restaurant is situated in the Hotel Brunelleschi found in the historical centre of Florence (it was actually a women’s prison back in 12C). Nowadays it is home to one of Florence’s most celebrated gourmet restaurants. The chef here creates fresh Mediterranean dishes with an innovative twist.
The restaurant has an intimate culinary setting, with extreme attention to detail and service. The chef has very obvious passion and uses exciting and interesting flavours of traditional Tuscan food to offer amazing dishes. Do try the suckling veal, fiorentina steak or the semolina pasta, all of which are absolutely divine.
La Leggenda dei Frati
As you enter the amazing Villa Bardini (near to the Palazzo Vecchio), you will find yourself inside a sophisticated and warm ambience. The setting is modern and creative, as is the delicious cuisine. The views from this hill-side restaurant are simply stunning and overlook all of Florence.
The menu offers Tuscan traditions, focusing on the very best ingredients from their home-grown vegetable and herb garden. They also offer a good selection of vegan and vegetarian delights. Villa Bardini is also home to an art gallery thanks to its rotating artworks.
Il Palagio, Four Seasons Hotel
Il Palagio can be found in Florence’s lavish Four Seasons Hotel and its culinary sophistication is down to the executive chef Vito Mollica. The style here is traditional and imaginative, with dishes that look exciting and titillate the taste buds. The menu offers superb and carefully prepared unique Italian cuisine. In the summer months, the restaurant opens its garden terrace so you can enjoy alfresco dining.
Borgo Pinti 88, Florence
This gorgeous restaurant is located behind the Uffizi and is a basement room with its walls dating right back to the Roman times. This basement room is used for evening diners and the dining area on the ground floor has an open kitchen with busy chefs doing what they do best. The culinary delights focus on Tuscan products served in dishes that combine traditional expertise with a contemporary style.
This small family-run trattoria offers traditional Tuscan home cooking and has been established for more than 50 years. All the produce is sourced from a local market which makes the menu more seasonal. This family-run eatery sticks to traditional days such as serving fresh fish on Fridays and tripe on Monday and Thursday.
The signature dish of bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florence style steak) is on the menu daily. The atmosphere is busy and buzzing with not many tables, so do be prepared to share a table with other diners. At the moment it is only open at lunchtimes – but definitely give it a go – you will not be disappointed!
What to Drink in Florence?
Food and drink experiences in Florence also include everything from specialist coffee houses to nearby wineries. Drinking in Florence is fun, varied and exciting. Although the actual nightlife is less excessive as there are only a handful of nightclubs.
Florence is well known for its Tuscan red and white wines, which are an important aspect of Florentine life. Most Florentines enjoy a glass of red wine to accompany their dinner or an aperitif cocktail to enjoy with an assortment of nibbles. Of course, as a visitor to Florence you will be eager to discover the local drink culture – there are several options to try, so take a look what to drink in Florence!
Tuscany produces red wine from the Chianti and Val D’Orcia regions and is the most popular drink in Florence. If you are unsure of what wine to try in a restaurant, the waiters are more than happy to help you decide what is best to have with your meal. If you wish to learn more about wine or increase your palate, why not book a wine tour in the beautiful surrounding Tuscan countryside?
Drink Experiences in Florence
A favourite aperitif is an Aperol Spritz, most commonly known as ‘Spritz’. It is made up of Aperol, Prosecco and fizzy water or seltz (a stronger fizzy water). Spritz is drunk during aperitif with nibbles such as crisps, nuts or with a small dish of tasty pasta. If you would prefer to go for a cocktail, try Mojito, Whiskey Sour, Margarita, Malibu, Long Island with many more to be found.
A real speciality drink in Florence is Vin santo (holy wine) also known as a ‘ammazza caffè’. It is known as a ‘coffee killer’, a spirit you would usually have after lunch or dinner with almond biscuits that you dip into your drink to soften them.
Take a look at our round-up of five of the best places for food and drink experiences in Florence right now:
Le Volpi e L’Uva (for natural wines)
For a superb glass of wine, check out this cute wine bar where all the wines are carefully chosen and changed regularly. They have an extensive list of boutique or natural wines which means you will always find something delectable to drink. Enjoy your glass (or glasses) of wine with a platter of various Italian cheeses – just mouth-watering!
Cafe Verrazzano (for coffee and pastries)
This favourite spot serves some of the best coffee in the city as well as gorgeous pastries, focaccia and cecina (thin, crêpe-style pancakes). However, there are not too many tables so you may have to enjoy your coffee standing up and chatting – as the locals do!
Ditta Artigianale (for rare coffee blends and amazing cocktails)
Very similar to cafés and coffee shops in New York and Melbourne, Ditta Artigianale offers rare coffee blends by the Barista – Francesco Sanapo. In the evening, gin conniseur Cecilia creates superb inventive cocktails – do try the Gin Mule or the super fizzy Champagne Cocktail.
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina (for Tuscan wines)
Wine buffs should definitely head off to Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina, where brothers Eduardo and Zeno offer an extensive list of Tuscan wines that range from a daring Brunello to a softer Chianti Classic. Here you can enjoy not only the wine but delicious and tasty Tuscan cuisine to complement your choice of wines.
Sabor Cubano (for signature cocktails)
This is a fabulous place to enjoy Cuban soul in Florence. The owner offers his signature mixed mojitos and margaritas named after the local street artists. Then, there is mango daiquiris that are complete with individual touches such as black salt rims, fresh lime and selected rums. If you’re lucky, you may turn up when there is a piano performance taking place.
In order to fully embrace the drinking element to your food and drink experiences in Florence, visit a rooftop bar. Especially given the historic city can be truly appreciated with a panoramic view across its skyline.
However, rooftop bars in Florence also offer magical sunsets with designer cocktails, a bohemian vibe and live DJ’s.
The Best Gelato in Florence
Lastly, no food and drink experiences in Florence would be complete without enjoying one of the city’s much loved culinary offerings. Florence is widely known as the birthplace of gelato (a form of Italian ice-cream). As such, most tourists ask themselves how to spot a true, authentic gelato.
Firstly, avoid neon-coloured mounds and bright colours, as these are often style over substance. Likely, you’re unlikely to find true artisan gelato in the main squares or busy sight-seeing areas. Instead, book a food tour with ice-cream tasting or look for places with the gelato in covered steel tins. As these are likely to showcase the very best gelato in Florence, freshly made and with true Italian quality.
Book Food and Drink Experiences in Florence
Florentine cuisine embraces everything from tasty street foods to colourful food markets to family-owned trattorias. Florence is the doorway to the surrounding Tuscan wine region, which means some of the best wine in the world is waiting just for you!
As such, whether it’s a food tour or wine tasting, food and drink experiences in Florence are an authentic way to discover the flavours of Italy.
Book food tours in Florence with tabl. before you travel, avoid the crowds and discover an authentic experience. We have an array of food and drink experiences in Florence, along with wine tours, brewery and distillery tours, cookery classes and much more.