I am not going to lie: One of the main reasons I was excited to travel to Florence this June was the food. I can’t imagine living a life where bread and pasta aren’t regular occurrences and would probably rather go vegan than give up carbs, even if that means that I will never be a perfect Size Zero, and as such Italy is obviously my own personal food paradise.
I am a bit of an over-planner when it comes to food while traveling: I check out where other bloggers have eaten, score Tripadvisor for hours to learn what the most popular restaurants are and make sure to find out what my favorite travel and lifestyle magazines are recommending on top of that. What can I say: I don’t like to leave finding good food up to chance!
And when it came to Florence, the choices really were endless. From fancy rooftop bars to traditional trattorias and simple sandwich shops, there seemed to be something for everybody and that made narrowing down just where we wanted to eat incredibly hard: I think I could write another post just on what I want to eat on my next visit!
There was only one place in Florence that I absolutely had to check out and that was Gusta Pizza. I first read about this place on The Londoner back in January and the images of the perfectly chargrilled dough and delectable mozzarella cheese mesmerized me so much that I knew I couldn’t continue with my life until I had tried on of their slices: After all, there are not a lot of things that I love as much as a good and simple pizza!
Gusta has become a bit of a cult favorite over the years and if you’re looking for a quiet place where you won’t meet another tourist, I recommend that you hightail in the opposite direction: Gusta is full and loud and you hear more English than Italian, but oh is the pizza worth it! The simplicity of the menu really highlighted the quality and freshness of the ingredients and the pizza was so incredibly rich, cheesy and flavorful that my tastebuds left very, very happy.
We chose the Caprese and the Gusta Pizza, payed at the counter and then took our treasures to a lively square nearby where we devoured our slices of heaven. Both pizzas were excellent, though the Gusta Pizza was my favorite because the Grana cheese just made it especially decadent and as the evening light slowly started to turn golden, we knew we had properly arrived in Italy.
There is a lot more to Italian food than pizza and pasta and neither of both is a Florentine speciality anyway, but on our second evening in Florence we didn't want to go out for a fancy meal and felt the pull of pizza instead. And so we let authenticity be authenticity and soon found ourselves at l'Pizzacchiere, the top-rated pizza joint in Florence on Tripadvisor and a lovely relaxed little restaurant on the southside of the river Arno.
We managed to snatch up the last free table and as we saw customer after customer being turned away from the little room because the restaurant was booked out for the rest evening, we realized just how lucky we had been for showing up as we had without a reservation.
We went for two classics – Calabrese and Caprese – that were super delicious and decadent and the quiet atmosphere allowed us to take a true break from our busy day. The restaurant was located at a delightful little square full of little restaurants and bars that got busier and busier as the evening went on, but in a calm rather than a stressful way. The vibe was definitely more mellow than at Gusta, but we loved both places equally and appreciated that Gusta also did take out, but if you're looking for a peaceful place for a date or to simply unwind, l'Pizzacchiere is probably going to fit the bill more.
I am not a vegetarian, but I do like seeking out vegetarian restaurants when I travel because they always seem to be run by the friendliest people and Florence was no exception to that rule. Brac is a concept store meets restaurant that is located in a little side street away from the chaos of the city and looks so nondescript from the outside that you'd never realize what gem you're missing out on if you just walked past.
The restaurant is really small and it's pretty much impossible to squeeze in without a reservation and the atmosphere was so intimate that I didn't want to impose with my camera and just snapped a few quick grainy shots with my phone instead. Brac serves a variety of meals that all take inspiration from traditional Italian cuisine and I had a great Lasagne Verde while my boyfriend had a spicy pasta with tomatoes and walnuts that was just as delicious as it was satisfying. We also seemed to be the only non-Italians in the entire restaurant that was mostly frequented groups of friends looking to catch up over great food in a hip, but unpretentious place.
Tuscany is famous for its bread and as such there are plenty of sandwich shops in the alleys of Florence that are perfect stops for a light lunch or a quick snack while you're out exploring. SandwiChic is a little shop north of the Duomo and right next to the University of Florence and so small that we walked right past it the first time, but it's worth seeking out because one bit of their delectable sandwiches is going to make you forget every soggy excuse of a sandwich you have ever encountered before!
It's cheap, the selection is great and the bread is toasted to perfection and even though I went for a simple combo - ham and cheese - the ingredients were so good that the flavors exploded in my mouth. Don't miss this place if you visit Florence!
'Ino is another great sandwich shop, but fancier and definitely more expensive. The shop is located just south of Palazzo Vecchio in a little alley that you would probably never stumble upon by chance and this may just be the most gourmet sandwich shop you will ever visit in your life. I wish the sandwiches were a bit cheaper, but everything is made from high-quality artisan ingredients and the ham, cheese and spicy chili combo that I went for was delicious!
I'm sure that there's an unwritten law that states that you cannot go to Italy and not eat ice cream! And since Florence is the home of gelato, I was prepared to sacrifice myself and eat as much ice cream as I possibly could. I don't think you can ever go truly wrong with gelato, but Gelateria della Passera was one of our favorite ice cream parlors. This quaint little shop is tucked away from the big streets on the smallest square you have ever seen and I wish I could have another scoop of the delicious crema gelato right now!
La Carraia is the granddaddy of Florentine gelato and for good reason: It's hard to imagine a cone of ice cream that is more delicious and more photogenic! La Carraia is a firm foodie favorite and rumored by many people to have the best ice cream in the world and while they have a wide assortment of different flavors, it's chocolate lovers that will find paradise in a scoop of ice cream.
The dark chocolate ice cream was like nothing I had ever tasted before and was so perfectly rich and chocolatey that it almost felt like eating molten dark chocolate. And I don't even like dark chocolate! La Carraia was also surprisingly affordable - we payed 2,50 € each for our huge medium-sized cones - and the ice cream was super creamy and definitely some of the best I have ever had. But be prepared to queue up!
I still have so much more to discover about the food scene in Florence, but I like to think that I gave it a pretty good shot for my first try! On my next visit, I plan to tackle the infamous Bistecca alla fiorentina and want to have an iced coffee at Caffé Gilli, but until then:
What are your favorite restaurants in Florence? Or in other words: Which places was I crazy enough to miss on my visit?