Like any area of Italy, Florence has its regional specialties. The city’s most famous contribution to the Italian kitchen is its popular specialty, bistecca alle Fiorentina, a thick grilled steak.

This restaurant guide concentrates on two popular Florence neighborhoods, the central area near Il Duomo, and the charming neighborhood on the other side of the Arno, near the Giardino di Boboli and Palazzo Pitti. Florence’s immediate surrounding area is also covered, and there is a special section on Florentine nightlife.

Central Florence

Alle Murate, Via del Proconsolo 16/r, (039 056) 288950. A stylish, modern restaurant with a creative menu featuring Tuscan and Southern Italian specialties. The ambience is sophisticated yet informal, and the menu allows diners to sample regional or creative cuisine. Alle Murate is known for its wines, so you might consider splurging on a good bottle here. Dinner only.

Antico Fattore, Via Lambertesca 1/3r, (039 055) 288975.Very near the Uffizi (from the Piazza della Signoria through the Uffizi and take your first right), serves an “old-fashioned Florentine” lunch to many local businessmen and a few tourists.

Il Bambino, Corso Italia, 35, (039 055) 2675612. A newly opened restaurant that has become an immediate success. Il bambino (the child) is actually Mr. Raul, a former wrestler who has sustained a passionate interest in food and drink, and is an experienced restauranteur. Although the restaurant is large, Mr. Raul circulates among the tables, ensuring that all of his customers are well attended.

Trattoria Armando, Borgo Ognissanti 140/R, (039 055) 217263, is a good, inexpensive place for lunch or dinner. The pasta is wonderful. Sometimes at dinner the place is crowded with actors, singers, and musicians from the nearby Teatro Municipale. Credit cards are accepted.

Bar Enoteca Fuori Porta, Via Monte alle Croci, 10, (039 055) 2342483. Just beyond the Porta S. Niccolo, is a successfully run vineria. Andrea is responsible for the wines, Angelo for the cheese, and Rocco takes care of the administration. This enoteca has become one of Florence’s most popular meeting places. One can sit in either of two charming dining rooms or outside on the lovely street. Dishes are freshly and rapidly prepared, and the wine list includes more than 600 labels. Even when very crowded, the service is remarkably commendable.

La Baraonda, Via Ghibellina, 67r, (039 055) 2341171. A charming upscale trattoria serving an array of traditional fare as well as creative specialties (including vegetarian selections). La Baraonda’s menu varies daily but the signature polpettone (meatloaf) can be enjoyed any day of the week. The torta di mele (apple tart) is enthusiastically recommeded, and the selection of Tuscan wines is ample.

Borgo Antico, Piazza San Spirito, 6r, (039 055) 210437. A traditionally rustic trattoria/pizzeria. During the summer, the outside seating offers a lovely view of the piazza and church. Although famous for its pizza and very generous portions, the entire menu is worth trying. Moderately priced.

Le Botteghe di Donatello, Piazza Duomo, 27r, (039 055) 216678. This recommendation comes to us from Tom Tully and Diane Meyer, who said, “it is good for a quick, light meal, either for lunch or dinner".

Buca Lapi, Via del Trebbio, 1r, (039 055) 213768. A 5-10 minute walk from the Duomo. Food, service and atmosphereare excellent. Prices are mid-range for city standards. Reservations required.

Cantinetta Antinori, Piazza Antinori, 3, (039 055) 292234. Set on the ground floor of a Renaissance palace and is an elegant place for lunch. This recommendation comes to us from Richard & Colette Martin, of Worthington, OH.

Cantinetta da Verrazzano, Via Dei Tavolini 18, (039 055) 268590. Near Dante's house, this pizza, foccaccia, pastry and wine tasting restaurant has an excellent reputation.

La Carabaccia, Via Palazzuolo, 190r, (039 055) 214782. Near the Borgo Ognissanti. Moderate prices. Credit cards not accepted.

Cavallino, Piazza Signoria, 28, (039 055) 215818. This recommendation comes to us from Victor & Mary Ellen Ham, of Bethlehem, PA, who also mention that it is highly regarded by Florentines.

Cibreo, Via del Verrocchio 8/r, (039 055) 2341100. Overlooking Sant’ Ambrogio market, is a trendy restaurant offering imaginative versions of classic Florentine dishes. The service is excellent and the food superb, served in the formal dining room or in the casual and less expensive (but equally memorable) back room trattoria annex.

Da I Cinque Amici, Via de' Cimatori, 30r, (039 055) 396672. Serves a good lunch at moderate cost near the train station. It fills up rapidly for lunch.

Da Pennello, Via Dante Alighieri, 4r, (039 055) 294848. Near Il Duomo offers a fine antipasto table.

Da Sergio, Piazza San Lorenzo, 8r, (039 055) 281941. Gets raves for its pasta with tomato sauce. The trattoria has a familial air, a simple menu and open seating. Lunch only. Credit cards are not accepted.

Di Vinus, Via dell’Orto, 35r, (039 055) 224148. Close to the Piazza del Carmine, is a trendy, popular meeting place for Florentine youth. The food is prepared by a promising young chef, and the waiters are professional. The interior is elegant and lavishly decorated, and the atmosphere is lively.

Enoteca Le Barrique, Via Del Leone 40/r, (039 055) 224192. A quiet restaurant where conversation is unobstructed as one enjoys a simple meal and a remarkable wine list. The two young owners have a refined knowledge of wine and cuisine and are delighted to answer questions. Soft colors and artful lighting creates a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Open all day and until midnight.

Enoteca Pane e Vino, Piazza di Cestello 3/r, (039 055) 2476956. Was one of the very first wine bars to be opened in Florence and is located in one of the most interesting areas of the city. Since its foundation, the Enoteca has retained its tradition of serving wines that it believes will come to be of great standing The menu is based upon traditional recipes enlivened by imaginative twists. Much attention is directed towards the ingredients, and the atmosphere is surely one of the most pleasant in town.

Enoteca Pinchiorri, Via Ghibellina, 87, (039 055) 242757. On the ground floor of a 15th century palazzo and is one of the most famous and most expensive restaurants in the center of Florence. It is often described as Italy’s best restaurant, and is reputed to have the finest wine cellar in Europe. Reservations required.  

Garga, Via del Moro 48/r, (039 055) 2398898. Known among Florentines for its exquisite food and wonderful variations on traditional Italian dishes. Mr. Garganelli, his wife, and their son run the restaurant, a series of intimate dining rooms decorated with fanciful murals painted by the owner himself, who is known to occasionally break into operatic arias while creating new and exotic dishes for his customers. The waiters, led by Garga’s son, Andrea, are young and professional, and the combination of exotic and traditional taste offered by Garga’s menu make it one of the best restaurants in Florence and worth its expensive prices.

Giacosa, Caffè Pasticceria, Via Della Spada, 10, (039 055) 2776328. A famous Florentine institution reputed to serve the best coffee in town. Prices are reasonable if you eat standing up. Pay first. It is a convenient place to have a sandwich, un dolce, and a cup of coffee.

La Giostra, Borgo Pinti, 10r, (039 055) 241341. Near Il Duomo and the post office, stays open late at night and serves nice food in a festive atmosphere. The free glass of asti spumante and assorted antipasti make a nice introduction to this family-run restaurant. A relatively modest place you will enjoy, especially when you receive the bill.

Giubbe Rosse, Piazza della Repubblica, 13/14r, (039 055) 212280. One of the most famous literary meeting places in Italy is frequented by artists and intellectuals.

Harry's Bar, Lungarno Vespucci, 22r, (039 055) 2396700. Famous and expensive. Harry’s serves an international menu, including American hamburgers and martinis. Dress is casual. Reservations required.

I’cche C’e C’e, Via Magalotti, 11r, (039 055) 216589. A lively and popular trattoria down a narrow alley near the Piazza di Santa Croce. Although the name is hard to pronounce, the good food is hard to forget.

Il Latini, Via dei Palchetti, 6r, (039 055) 210916. Found in the old stables behind the Palazzo Rucellai, near Santa Maria Novella. This noisy, boisterous eatery offers superb food, but George Lesser suggests that food and service are both better later in the evening when the clientele shifts from tourists to locals. Moderately expensive.

Leo in San Croce, Via Torta, 7r, (039 055) 210829.

La Maremma, Via Verdi, 16r, (039 055) 244615. Serves typical Tuscan cuisine.

Mossacce, Via del Proconsolo, 55/r, (039 055) 294361. This recommendation comes to us from  John and Ann Pilgrim, who said, "affordable, delicious & near Borgo Pinti.” Tuscan specialties in a 100-year old busy restaurant between Il Bargello and Il Duomo. No reservations.

Natalino, Borgo Albizi 17/r, (039 055) 289404. Centrally located and is one of Florence’s oldest restaurants, still providing customers with quality food in a pleasant atmosphere. Discover an early fresco by Annigoni in the main room, probably painted in exchange for a choice of the menu’s fine but pricey fare. Try the ravioli nudi.

Oliandolo, Via Ricasoli, 38-40/r, (039 055) 211296. Just around the corner from the Duomo in Via Ricasoli, is a vineria with a limited but good menu of fast and not-so-fast food, including cheese, sausages, Tuscan ham, and other Tuscan dishes, as well as an expertly compiled wine list. The waiters create a lighthearted atmosphere which attracts many locals at lunchtime. It is also a great place to go for brunch.

Osteria # 1, Via del Moro, 18/20, (039 055) 284897. Offers traditional cuisine at moderate prices in an old-style dining room.

Osteria all'Antico Mercato, Via Nazionale, 78r, (039 055) 284182. Near the main train station.

Osteria del Caffè Italiano, Via Della Condotta,12, (039 055) 289020. Serves a standard trattoria menu (some first rate salumi and pecorino) at reasonable prices, though the decor is slightly more formal than that of the usual trattoria. An ample selection of red wines can be enjoyed by the glass or the “taste” (degustazione).

Otello, Via degli Orti Oricellari, 36r, (039 055) 215819. A family managed restaurant serving Tuscan cuisine in a classic style atmosphere. The lombatina (veal steak) is recommended.

Pallottino, Via Isola delle Stinche, 1r, (039 055) 289573. An inexpensive restaurant offering good bistecca and other traditional dishes, right next door to Vivoli, the famous ice cream parlor.

Il Pandemonio, Via dei Leoni, 50r, (039 055) 224002. Between Piazza Tasso & Via dell’Orto, is a well-run family restaurant, in spite of its name, which means that the restaurant is “an infernal mess.” Specialties from a variety of regions are imaginative, with wines from respected local vineyards. Garden dining.

Paoli, Via Dei Tavolini, 12r, (039 055) 216215. This recommendation comes to us from Ronald and Claire Sansone, of Weston, CT, who said, “was great!! Pricey, but worth it.”

Rivoire, on the Piazza della Signoria, (039 055) 214412. The city’s most elegant gran caffe, recommended to us for its hot chocolate and as a good place to rest and enjoy the passing crowd.

Sabatini, Via de' Panzani, 9a, (039 055) 280802. An expensive, traditional restaurant with excellent food and service, near the train station.

Sasso di Dante, Piazza delle Pallottole, 6r, (039 055) 282113. Next to Il Duomo (toward the right back corner of the cathedral), is a charming restaurant with outdoor tables so that you can dine all'aperto. The pasta is wonderful, as are the lasagna and ribollita, a bread, cabbage and white bean soup which is a Tuscan specialty.

Sostanza, Via del Porcellana, 25r, (039 055) 212691. This is Florence’s oldest restaurant. It doesn’t offer much in the way of ambience, but the bistecca (beef steak) and petti di polo (chicken breast) are said to be some of the best in town. There are two seatings for dinner, at about 8:00 and 10:00. Prices are moderate. Credit cards not accepted.

La Spada, Via della Spada 62/r, (039 055) 218757. Comes highly recommended by our customers for its great roasted meats, its friendly owners, and its reasonable prices. Near our apartment on della Spada.

Taverna del Bronzino, Via delle Ruote, 27r, (039 055) 495220. A little larger, a little more formal, and a bit expensive. The taverna is frequented by Florentines, and the food is delicious, with memorable pasta dishes, salad, and fish (especially calamari).

I Toscano, Via Guelfa 70r, (039 055) 215475.

Trattoria degli Antellesi, Via Faenza, 9r, (039 055) 216990. Offers good Tuscan and less traditional cuisine (including vegetarian fare) for lunch or dinner.

Trattoria "Il Caminetto," Via dello Studio, 34r, (039 055) 2396274. Located on a street that runs perpendicular to the south side of Il Duomo near Sasso di Dante. It is inexpensive and fun, with casual (but prompt) service and good food.

Trattoria Mario, Via Rossini, 2r, (039 055) 218550. Offers delicious regional classics in a tiny dining room that looks in on a glassed-in kitchen. The menu includes the city’s least expensive steak Florentine, and the wine list is impressive. Arrive at noon to avoid waiting for a table at this popular spot. Lunch only. No credit cards.

Trattoria Marione, Via della Spada, 27r, (039 055) 214756. A lively restaurant with friendly service, reasonable prices, and a menu that offers wonderful regional dishes, including the “best ribollita in Tuscany.”

Trattoria Zà-Zà, Piazza Mercato Centrale, 26r, (039 055) 215411. Has a Bohemian atmosphere, with picnic tables, rows of Chianti bottles, huge bunches of garlic, and posters of popular celebrities decorating its paneled walls.

Tredici Gobbi, Via del Porcellana, 9r, (039 055) 284015. Located on a quiet road in which the restaurant is the main attraction. The menu combines tradition with imagination to produce some splendid dishes which are served in beautiful dining rooms or in a courtyard. The wine list is traditional and excellent, making this a popular venue with several regular customers.

La Vecchia Bettola, Viale Vasco Pratolini 3/7, (039 055) 224158. The classic Florentine trattoria (with traditional marble tables) offering a variety of typically Tuscan dishes at reasonable prices.

Il Vegetariano, Via delle Ruote 30r, (039 055) 475030. Serves strictly vegetarian fare. Creative and delicious.

Vivoli Gelateria , Via Isola delle Stinche, 7r, (039 055) 292334. Famous, and is claimed by Carol and Bill Whittemore “to be the best ice cream parlor in the world."

Le Volpi e L’Uva , Piazza dei Rossi 1, (039 055) 2398132. 30m from the Ponte Vecchio, is a small, exclusive restaurant that is the outlet for a number of rare wines from vineyards with limited production. Run by Emilio and Riccardo, who are highly specialized in their field and are also responsible for the preparation of wine lists for several of the city’s finest restaurants, Le Volpe e L’Uva offers a variety of French delicacies, along with some exceptional salted Tuscan meats and superb cheeses, the perfect accompaniment to the wines. There are few better ways to spend an afternoon.

The Yellow Bar, Via del Pronconsolo, 39r (039 055) 211766. Across from the Bargello. This recommendation comes to us from David & Janis Gonzalez, of Santa Fe, NM, who said it is “a casual pizza, pasta, beer place with great salad, a friendly staff, and a family atmosphere”

Ai Quattro Leoni, Via de’ Vellutini 1r, (039 055) 218562. Located between the Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Pitti, and Via Maggio, on the Piazza della Passera, also known as the Piazza dei Leoni. The popularity of this ristorante deservedly comes from its excellent reputation and beautiful location. There is a great variety of antipasti, primi piatti, and salads, all of which are high quality and served in generous portions. The cakes are superb. One can eat outside, on the square. It is a good idea to reserve a table; however, if you have to wait, the Caffe degli Artisti on the other side of the square is an excellent spot for an apertif. Reservations recommended.

L’Assassino, Via Senese (in the area of Via B. Castelli) (039 055) 225877. “We discovered a wonderful restaurant whose female owner waits on tables and speaks four or five languages.”

Camillo, Borgo San Jacopo, 57r, (039 055) 212427. A well-known, very expensive and elegant restaurant.

Florence, the Other Side of the Arno

Il Cantinone del Gallo Nero, Via Santo Spirito, 6r, (039 055) 218898. A wine bar serving tasty and filling snacks with a good selection of wines to sample. Three brothers run this unpretentious trattoria, located in a beautiful cellar. Good, simple cooking and an honest wine list make this place a favorite of young Florentines. Although one cannot sit outside, the cool temperature of the cellar makes it an appealing choice for summer evenings.

La Casalinga, Via Michelozzi, 9r, (039 055) 218624. Near Piazza Santo Spirito, is one of the best culinary bargains in Florence. This is a good, inexpensive place for lunch or dinner, serving home-style food. Ferruccio and his wife, Graziella, organize the kitchen while their daughter and her helper serve the customers. Ferruccio’s Tuscan upbringing enables him to provide a menu of the best regional dishes. The success of the Trattoria comes from the family’s ability to feed large numbers of people at a very reasonable price. The customers are mostly students and workers, with a smattering of young tourists. The atmosphere is familiar, sometimes raucous, and unfailingly entertaining.

Enoteca Bar Fuori Porta, Via del Monte alle Croci, 10r, (039 055) 2342483. On the road to Forte Belvedere, is a well-loved lunch stop offering light fare and a good selection of wines. Nicknamed “Crostini” by Florentines.

Mamma Gina, Borgo S. Jacopo, 37r, (039 055) 2396009. Located just south of the Ponte Vecchio, is convenient for visits near Santo Spirito.

Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, Borgo San Jacopo, 43r, (039 055) 215706. Across the Ponte Vecchio and a few steps to the right, is a cozy place to have lunch after a morning in Florence. The onion soup is renown. Go early.

Ruggero Via Senese 89, (039 055) 220542. This recommendation comes to us from Sarah Black, of Los Angeles, CA, who said, “fabulous”. The family-run trattoria always draws a crowd for its Tuscan classics and home-made desserts. The wine list is small, but thoughtfully chosen and well-priced.

La Sagrestia Ristorante, Via Guicciardini, 27r, (039 055) 21003. South of the Arno across the Ponte Vecchio, just before Palazzo Pitti, has air conditioning, a medium price range, and good food.

Trattoria Bordino, near the Ponte Vecchio on Via Stracciatella, 9r, (039 055) 213048. This recommendation comes to us from the Bradleys, who recommend it for lunch.

In the Hills Above Florence

Le Cave di Maiano, Via delle Cave, 16, (039 055) 59133. Maiano is about 20 minutes from downtown Florence and is set on a hillside. The terrace offers views over the valley, where beautiful green stone has long been extracted from the cave, or “caves;” in fact, Michelangelo began carving stone here.

Enoteca La Sosta del Rossellino, Settignano, (039 055) 697245. An exclusive restaurant with some of the best food in the area. Before starting this restaurant with his daughters, owner Damiano was a food critic. He loves explaining the menu to his customers, and travels extensively in search of the finest ingredients, including 50 cheeses, 6 kinds of foie gras, and 150 excellent wines. Specialties include tortellini filled with spinach and ricotta.

Giogolirossi, Via Giogoli, 10, (039 055) 2571302. Scandicci is located in the hills above the Certosa Monastery. Terrific Tuscan specialties are served at moderate to expensive prices..

Omero, Via Pian dei Giullari, 11, (039 055) 220053. Sits on a hillside above the observatory on the Poggio Imperiale, five minutes from downtown Florence. The views of Florence from the terrace are exceptional. The restaurant offers excellent traditional Tuscan fare and is famous for its fiori fritti (fried zucchini flowers). Prices are moderate. Credit cards are accepted.

Pizzaria La Capponcina, Via San Romano 17/r, (039 055) 697037. Located in Settignano, is one of Florence’s most promising and largest restaurants, serving up to four hundred customers each day while retaining impeccably high standards of cuisine. Eat in comfortable dining rooms or in a large and beautiful garden. Not only is La Capponcina popular with Florentines, but is is also reputed to be the favorite restaurant of the Fiorentina football team. 

Florentine Nightlife

Il Curtatone, Borgo Ognissanti 167R, (039 346) 3521949. At the corner of Via del Prato and Via del Curtatone, this is a nice big bar that stays open until 2:00 a.m., and is frequented by many Italian university students, and not many tourists.

Le Giubbe Rosse, Piazza della Repubblica, 13/14r, (039 055) 212280. A historic Florentine café and favorite haunt of literary figures.

Jazz Club, Via Nuova De' Caccini, 3, (039 339) 4980752. On the corner of Borgo Pinti, features live jazz nightly from 9:30 p.m. Known as an “evergreen” of Florence-by-night.

Pongo, Via Verdi, 59r, (039 055) 2347880. A hopping dance club with no cover charge, featuring different musical styles different nights of the week.

Rose’s, Via del Larione 26r, (039 055) 287090. A combination sushi bar/café/gallery/music venue, where newspapers and magazines are always available to read.