Florence is home to many things: art, history, architecture, and — like most parts of Italy — good food. In this list, Alexis shares 5 places to serve your curious tastebuds for local cuisine filled with pasta and steak, cravings for pizza and a fill of American food while homesick, and daily Italian sandwich lunches. Bookmark this student guide to trying out new restaurants in Florence.
While living in Italy the past four months, I was bound to discover amazing food, especially in Florence. Join me as I show you my top five food places here in Florence that I will dearly miss!
1. Osteria Santo Spirito
This restaurant without a doubt is one not to miss while in Florence. It is located in Piazza Santo Spirito which is across the Arno River in Piazza Pitti. This piazza is known to be one of the best piazzas in Florence as it is filled with locals, live music, and dancing. It's truly a one of a kind place.
If you love gnocchi, Osteria Santo Spirito is the restaurant for you! Gnocchi is a traditional Italian dumpling, and as it is made out of potato, it's not considered pasta! I absolutely love gnocchi so I had to stop here. The truffle gnocchi is their most popular dish and I can see (and taste) why. The taste of truffle fills your mouth along with melted cheese. It was incredible! My favorite gnocchi on the menu was the classic gnocchi with ragu sauce. I love this dish so much because it reminded me of the gnocchi my grandmother makes for me at home!
Caption: Gnocchi with ragu sauce and gnocchi with truffle and melted cheese.
2. All’ Antico Vinaio
All’ Antico Vinaio arguably may be the best sandwich shop here in Florence. Don’t be intimidated by the long line for these sandwiches. It moves quickly and trust me it is worth it! These sandwiches are massive! I can never eat them in one sitting so I usually save the other half for lunch the next day. I am not usually a sandwich lover, but I will do anything for this sandwich. I order the Boss, which is made on focaccia bread with prosciutto, pecorino cheese, and black truffle sauce. Simple but delicious! I think prosciutto here has to be one the best I have tasted here in Florence. The Pecorino Romano cheese is a must on your sandwich especially in Florence as it is a typical cheese in Tuscany.
Did I mention that they are only between 6-8 Euros depending on which sandwich you get? As a college student on a budget this is what I like to hear. I highly recommend this sandwich shop on your food journey in Florence.
Caption: The Boss sandwich from All’ Antico Vinaio.
3. Rooster Cafe
Every once in a while, you just need a taste of home, and Rooster Cafe can fulfill that craving for you! When I think of home, I think of the homemade waffles my mom makes every Sunday. Rooster Cafe has multiple locations all over Florence, but lucky for me there is one near my apartment. The owner's idea for this cafe was to have it a place for Americans to enjoy the meals they miss at home. I got the English breakfast which had a little bit of everything: mini pancakes, sausage, eggs, toast, and vegetables! I felt like I was back in the US. However, I refuse to eat a bagel here because I know the best bagels are back at home in New Jersey! My friend got the Jack Johnson pancakes with bananas with cinnamon and walnuts! YUM! If you are ever home sick I suggest you head over to Rooster for a quick cure.
Caption: Taste of Home!
4. Ristorante San Mario
Ristorante San Mario is a popular restaurant that locals told me to go for the best steaks in Florence. In Florence, the Florentine steak is a common dish. It’s a t-bone steak cooked with very few seasonings as the goal is to have the blood be the source of the flavor. As someone who typically gets their steak cooked medium, I was very intimidated. I decided I must head over.
I went to Ristorante San Mario on Thanksgiving when my friend visited and I am so happy I did. The restaurant has the charm of an Italian restaurant and the staff was beyond attentive. My friend got a steak with beef filet with cream, green pepper, and mashed potatoes. I got the grilled beef filet with artichokes and roasted rosemary potatoes. It was obvious after our first bite why this is the go to place for steaks. The steaks just melted in our mouths. The best part of this meal had to be the homemade dessert cart. All the desserts are so delicious from the pies to the cookies and tiramisu it was almost impossible just to pick one. However we decided to get the triramsu and it was amazing! I will definitely be back to try their handmade pastas!
Caption: Best Steak here in Florence!
5. Luppolo e Grano
This little restaurant is located in the Piazza Sant'Ambrogio. This piazza is filled with locals and is away from tourists just like Piazza Santo Spirito. My roommates and I stumbled on this restaurant as we were walking. The delicious pizzas immediately caught my eye. It is hard for us to eat as a group sometimes because one of our one roommates is gluten free. She was beaming from ear to ear when she saw that this pizza shop is gluten free! I don’t often eat pizza but I had to try the pizza here. I got the Intensa, which has burrata cheese, porcini mushrooms, and truffle oil. If you don't know by now, I love truffles. I have to admit this was one of the best pizzas I had because it was so flavorful and light it did not make me feel gross afterwards. The best thing was stumbling across this little place. I recommend you visit as well!
Caption: The Intensa pizza at Luppolo e Grano.
Alexis' journey continues all semester so stay tuned.