Florence is an art lover's and gastronome’s city. The relentless wave of launches can leave one breathless, so we’ve gathered the best of them – as well as a few bedded-in gems – into this curated list of the “wheres?” and “whys?” of the best restaurants in Florence. Be prepared to book well in advance (and where you can’t, to wait) but also rest assured that it’s going to be worth it.
The only question is: where to book first? But remember—no list of places to eat can compare to a custom-built itinerary from Nancy Aiello Tours. Leave it to the experts to build a daily travel plan from scratch just for you—complete with hotels, activities, transportation, and everything in between.
1. La Giostra
Somewhat of a Florence institution, La Giostra is a personality-filled restaurant that draws its charm from the second generation owner. The ceiling is covered in Christmas lights, early 2000 hits play in the background, and the atmosphere manages to be fun, relaxed, and classic all at once. As for the food, it’s outstanding. Start with the burrata and bruschetta. The former is served with fig, honey, and bread rolls; the latter is topped the sweetest tomatoes of all time. Stick with pasta for your main; the pear and pecorino ravioli is excellent—as is the wild boar ragu.
2. Gusta Pizza
Gusta Pizza is one of the most popular pizzerias in Florence, and that’s not just because of its excellent location near the Ponte Vecchio. Popular among tourists, locals, and students alike, Gusta Pizza serves deliciously unpretentious pizzas to eat in or take away. If you have your heart set on dining in its intimate restaurant, though, you may have a bit of a wait—although the staff is always keen to squeeze in extra tables where they can.
3. Trattoria Pandemonio di Casa Brogi
Down-home Tuscan cooking is what you’ll find at Trattoria Pandemonio, a polished, family-run restaurant near Santo Spirito that's helmed by chef Cecco Biagi. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere buzzy (starting around 8pm, expect it to start filling up with locals celebrating birthdays and anniversaries). Don't be surprised if Biagi steps out of the kitchen and starts to mingle with the guests. If you appreciate straightforward cooking, you love his peposo (a typical beef stew made with red wine), baccalà alla livornese (salt cod in tomato sauce), and spaghettini alla cecco (with fresh tomatoes, lots of garlic, and thinly-sliced artichokes). The wine list is heavy on Tuscan reds. Save room for cheesecake, and reserve ahead.
4. Yellow Bar
Don't be fooled by the American-style booths in this hole-in-the-wall restaurant; you'll be surrounded by local Florentines flocking to the quaint space for a stellar pie or plate of homemade pasta—their two specialties. Don't miss the paglia e fieno (a tomato-based pasta dish with prosciutto and mushrooms) or the foccaccia al pomodoro fresco pizza, which comes piled high with tomatoes, arugula, mozzarella, capers, and anchovies. With long benches and tables, it's the perfect spot for larger groups. The friendly, welcoming staff speaks excellent English.
5. Trattoria 13 Gobbi
Off the beaten path, but just a short walk to the Duomo, Trattoria 13 Gobbi seems to have it all: elegant atmosphere, friendly service, and delicious food. If possible, get a table on the garden terrace and sip a glass of wine in the atmospheric, elegant setting. Don't sleep on their signature dish: rigatoni with red wine sauce—it may sound simple, but it packs a powerful flavor, with just a hint of fresh basil. Be sure to save room for the flourless chocolate cake.
If you have dietary restrictions, the staff will happily accommodate you, especially since the menu is fairly expansive with plenty of options for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
6. Ristorante del Fagioli
Fagioli restaurant is one of the oldest trattorias in Florence, characterized by a wood-lined dining room, daily specials scrawled on a blackboard, and old-fashioned straw-covered bottles of Chianti. The menu, which is printed daily, features flavor-packed meatballs in tomato sauce, tender white beans, and olive oil-laced vegetables. You can’t go wrong with any of Fagioli’s savory dishes, but just make sure you top it off with a huge slice of torta della nonna for dessert (“grandmother's” ricotta and pine nut cake).
7. Trattoria Sostanza
Trattoria Sostanza embraces its history and quirks, with cracked tiles, slightly rickety chairs, old-school framed photographs, and a pocket-sized kitchen that prepares the best meat in Florence. The menu is classic while still offering some variety, featuring dishes like tortellini al brodo with plump meat-filled tortellini, intensely meaty pasta al sugo, pollo al burro (grilled and battered butter chicken), and fabulous portions of charcoal-grilled bistecca fiorentina.
8. Trattoria Zà Zà
Trattoria Zà Zà is located in the the heart of Florence in the iconic Piazza del Mercato Centrale. It's housed in a former 19th-century inn and has retained its original interiors (thick stonewalls, vaulted ceilings, etc). The menu is extensive, but we're partial to the wild boar sauce pappardelle, which has been on the menu since owner Stefano Bondi opened the restaurant in 1977. The warm and inviting space is filled with antiques from around the world that lend the space a uniquely bohemian charm.
9. Trattoria Mario
The tiny but legendary Trattoria da Mario is located in the square behind Mercato Centrale. For over 60 years, the family-owned and operated spot has been serving excellent and reasonably-priced Tuscan food for lunch. The menu changes daily but usually features classic dishes like hearty ribollita, massive bistecca fiorentina, and bollito misto (stewed beef and tongue with a bright parsley sauce). Prepare to wait a bit since they don’t take reservations.
10. Buca Lapi
Buca Lapi is a lively subterranean restaurant that serves the best bistecca fiorentina in town. What sets Buca Lapi’s t-bone apart from the rest is the large hunk of Chianana beef, which is perfectly charred on the outside and just barely warmed through on the inside (in other words, perfectly rare). The remainder of the menu features all the Tuscan classics, including ribollita and pappa al pomodoro soup, plus crostini with black cabbage.
11. La Bottega Del Buon Caffè
La Bottega del Buon Caffe is a riverside restaurant with an open kitchen, outdoor summer bar, and stylish interior. Everything you’ll eat at this Michelin-starred spot is grown or raised on the restaurant’s farm, except for the responsibly-sourced fish. Expect refined and innovative versions of Italian dishes like suckling pig, flame-roasted pigeon, foie gras creme brûlée, and salted focaccia. À la carte and tasting menus are available.
12. Pitti Gola e Cantina
Although most people flock to Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina for happy hour, it's worth sticking around for a full meal. Try to snag a table on the street-side deck area, which offers views of the Pitti Palace across the street. This bar, wine shop, and small eatery is always filled with locals, making it the perfect spot to spend the evening.
13. Osteria dei Pazzi
You can't go wrong with Osteria dei Pazzi's simple, rustic Tuscan fare and high-quality wine menu (curated by Marco, the sommelier). Be sure to order the fagioli all'uccelletto (white beans stewed in tomatos and sage), and don't miss the regional Florentine pasta dishes—we're partial to the pici con le briciole.
Coquinarius is a tiny and relaxed wine bar near the Duomo. It’s known for pouring top-notch local wines and dishing out seasonal antipasti with a distinct Tuscan flare. If you’re hungry, order the signature raviolini filled with cheese and local pear, and ask the friendly sommelier for recommendations on the perfect Tuscan wine pairing.
15. Osteria Santo Spirito
Located in (and named after) one of the most popular piazzas in all of Florence, Osteria Santo Spirito serves traditional Tuscan fare with a combination of always-available dishes (such as the gnocchi au gratin with four truffle-flavored cheeses) and daily-changing seasonal offerings. The Florentine steak is a must. Take a look at the walls lined with photos and paintings—they're all by local artists and artisans.
16. Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori
Vini e Vecchi Sapori is a well-known restaurant located off Piazza Signoria, arguably the most touristy spot in the country. Don’t let the crowds deter you; the family running the restaurant could not be nicer and the food is absolutely excellent (despite their tourist-oriented locale, they don’t serve pizza or cappuccino). The menu changes seasonally but the food is always hearty. They’re most known for their grilled meats, especially the t-bone steaks, veal, and chicken livers. Reservations required.
17. Santo Bevitore
Service is informal but efficient, and the tasty food is well priced for this city and location. Some dishes mine the Florentine tradition, while more ambitious flavor combos include spring pea soup with sautéed squid, but all are based on fresh, locally sourced produce. This is one of those laid-back, wine-oriented Italian hostelries where you can stop off for a glass of Chianti and a plate of cheese or salumi (from an excellent selection) or launch into a full-scale meal. Whichever route you take, try to find room for a dessert—both the panna cotta and the rosemary crème brûlée (served with chestnut gelato) are excellent.
18. Ora d'Aria
If you're a certified foodie, Marco Stabile's creative Italian restaurant is a must-visit. The open kitchen is the wow factor of Ora d'Aria's which otherwise has a domestic intimacy to it, as if they've moved some retro designer chairs into a Florentine apartment and replaced the books on the shelves with wine. Chef Stabile is not afraid of strong flavor combos, such as his trademark antipastos, egg yolk with foie gras and pear cooked in balsamic vinegar. Everything is good here, from pastas and risottos through to desserts, and the 600-bottle wine list makes for absorbing reading and drinking. Reservations recommended.
A ten-minute cab ride into the hills south of Florence, Omero is a classic, mid priced country restaurant. You enter beneath the hanging hams of what seems a rustic grocery shop to emerge out back into a panoramic dining room with an outside terrace, affording marvelous views of the vine-covered slopes. Begin with crostini and salumi and continue with pasta or soup, grilled chicken, or artichoke wedges fried without batter. Tables full of Florentine families pack the restaurant at Sunday lunchtimes. Bring mosquito repellent in the summer months.
On a small side street in the center of town, Oliviero drips old-fashioned glamour, with its red velvet banquettes and white-gloved waiters—so it's not surprising to learn that Burt Lancaster, Sophia Loren, and Maria Callas were once patrons. The cuisine, however, is not stuck in the past: Local ingredients are used with flair, as in the leek soup with lampredotto (tripe), or their amusing variation on the most clichéd of Florentine desserts: a vin santo–flavored cheesecake, its base made up of crumbled Prato biscuits. Fish, meat, and game take equal billing among the secondi (which might include rabbit terrine with plums, or tuna filet in a sauce of Tropea onions, sultanas, pine nuts, and ginger-scented olive oil). On Fridays between November and March, there's a nod to tradition with the carrello dei bolliti (boiled meat trolley). The wine list and selection of Cognacs, single-malt whiskies, and grappas is unusual and impressive.
21. Olio Restaurant
The Oltrarno district, Florence's version of the Left Bank, is home to this restaurant where olive oil is a specialty. Sourced from all over Italy (but mainly Tuscany), it starts arriving from November onward. A good year will mean that there are up to 40 different oils to choose from; the best time to taste is early spring. Alternatively, dine in the back room lined with wine bottles: The creative lunch and dinner menus change according to the season, but might take in broad bean and pecorino risotto or turbot on a bed of chickpeas; generous salumi boards are another feature.
Creatively revisited Tuscan classics – including stuffed pigeon, one of their most celebrated dishes – are the main attraction at this superb restaurant. The candlelit setting is basic but charming, with wooden furniture and Tuscan paintings. If you fail to secure a table, try their adjoining Trattoria Cibreino, where the food is virtually the same, but at a fraction of the price.
23. Il Latini
Locals and visitors dine side by side at the communal tables of this busy eatery, popular for its excellent Florentine specialties and decent house red (with unlimited wine refills). Vegetarians had better steer clear of the place, whose steak and meat dishes are the delight of any carnivore.
24. Enoteca Pinchiorri
This is one widely regarded as one of Italy's epicurean temples, and the prices are in the same stellar league. You can order à la carte, but the seasonal set menus are better value and will let you taste a wider variety of dishes. With 80,000 different wines, Giorgio Pinchiorri's wine cellar is considered one of the world's greatest. This is one of the few restaurants in Florence where dress code is strictly enforced.
25. Cantinetta Antinori Florence
The perfect place to round up a shopping spree on via Tornabuoni. Antinori is the equivalent of Armani in the wine world, and a relaxed lunch in the classy Cantinetta on the ground floor of their own noble palace is a must in your Florentine portfolio, even though it may turn pricey depending on your choice of food and wine.
The roof garden of the Grand Hotel Baglioni hosts this restaurant which in summer becomes an alfresco. The panoramic views over the city are unrivaled and the refined menu features Tuscan classics.
27.Borgo San Jacopo
Book one of the few tables on the tiny riverside terrace of this exclusive restaurant inside the Hotel Lungarno: the stunning views of the Ponte Vecchio will make this the meal of a lifetime. The yacht-club décor heralds a seafood menu featuring lobster, scampi, sea bass, turbot, mussels, and fresh tuna. As a consequence, the wine list is strong on white wines.
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.