Your visit to Florence will be filled with rich history, legendary art and architecture, and incomparable natural beauty. You’ll lose yourself wandering down cobblestone streets and in between rustic buildings, and all of a sudden you’ll realize… You’re hungry! The good news is, the food of Florence is some of the best in the world. I’ve compiled a list of establishments that will delight you with their tasty offerings, as well as their proximity to the city center and its sightseeing attractions. No matter what you’re hungry for, you’ll find something to satisfy your cravings and give you a taste of Florentine culture.
What to Expect when Enjoying the Food of Florence
Dining in Florence is similar to many other cities in Italy and Europe. There are a couple of Italy-specific dining rules that most people follow such as not serving red wine with fish, but the atmosphere of most restaurants is relatively relaxed. Many restaurants in the city serve typical Tuscan fare, but the food of Florence features more international and experimental cuisine every year.
Florence Dining Tips
- If you want to try a traditional Florentine dish, look for menu items with Fiorentina in the name – this means “Florentine”!
- Unlike in the United States, tipping is not expected when dining out because a gratuity is included in the cost of your food.
- Expect to pay for water that you order with your meal. The good news is that your server will give you a choice between a chilled bottle of acqua frizzante or acqua naturale – sparkling or still water.
1. Best Breakfast: Caffè Lorenzo
I love a classic American breakfast, but I learned to enjoy the simplicity of the meal in Italy. You won’t sit down to a plate of eggs benedict or pancakes for your morning fuel, but you can find a lot of charm and local culture at a bar like Caffè Lorenzo. Bars in Florence and other Italian cities are small cafes with quick service. Before I begin my sightseeing for the day, I like to stop by a bar for a cappuccino and a pastry. Never get your food or drinks to go; rather, experience the food of Florence like a local – by eating and drinking at the counter!
Italy Travel Tip: It is not considered polite in Italy to hand coins or cash directly to a cashier, so place your money in the little bowl or dish by the register. They will pick it up and leave your change in the same dish.
Address: Caffè Lorenzo, Piazza Cesare Beccaria, 4r, 50121
2. Best Sandwiches: I Fratellini
For a quick lunch, there are few spots as charming as I Fratellini. This true hole-in-the-wall establishment serves sandwiches and wine by the glass to be eaten right outside on the street. The sandwich, or panino, might be the most simple food of Florence, but the fresh ingredients and low price points at I Fratellini make this spot unmissable. My favorite sandwich is the #17, featuring creamy goat cheese and tart, flavorful sun dried tomatoes. If you see a long line, don’t be discouraged because service is very fast.
Italy Travel Tip: As with my breakfast tip, do not take this food to go – this is a bit of a faux pas in Italy. I once took one of I Fratellini’s sandwiches to go and got a lot of strange stares while I walked and ate. Just eat it on the curb with the rest of the crowd and enjoy the sunshine!
Address: I Fratellini, Via dei Cimatori, 38r, 50122
3. Best Pizza: Gustapizza
If you’re visiting Italy, you probably already love pizza. Gustapizza will take your love to new heights. I appreciate that they have a small menu of classically Italian pizza – thin crust, fresh cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. Each pizza is pretty small, so you should definitely get one all for yourself if you go for a meal and not just a snack. Gustapizza deserves its place in the ranks of the best food in Florence, and it is beloved by many.
Italy Travel Tip: Take your pizza outside and eat it across the street in the picturesque Piazza di Santo Spirito along with many other diners.
Address: Gustapizza, Via Maggio, 46r, 50125
4. Best Vegetarian Food: Brac
It can be challenging to find vegetarian food in Italy that is as varied as the meat-based offerings. Brac is a relatively modern Italian restaurant in the Oltrarno, the more residential, less touristy side of the Arno River. Brac features some of the best and most creative vegetarian food of Florence, Italy, while staying true to the flavors and style of traditional Italian cuisine. The restaurant also offers a selection of organic wines and a contemporary yet relaxed atmosphere full of books and artwork.
Make a reservation, or prenotazione! This place is popular and tables fill up quickly.
Address: Brac, Via dei Vagellai, 18r, 50122
5. Best Wine Bar: Procacci
One of my favorite places in Florence, Procacci, is so much more than a wine bar. Procacci has been selling wines and truffle-based products since 1885, and even if you can’t stay at the tiny premises long, it is more than worth the trip to pick up a jar or two of artisanal condiments or a bottle of curated wine. Personally, I like to get a little bit dressed up before visiting Procacci because the atmosphere is so classy and understated. Then, I’ll order a glass of chianti and sip it alongside a plate of cured meat, cheese, and truffle spread sandwiches.
Ask the knowledgeable employees to recommend a wine pairing if you’re not sure what to order.
6. Best Gelateria: Il Procopio
Fresh gelato served at Italian Gelateria
I walk constantly whenever I visit Florence because there’s so much to see and the city center is relatively small. Inevitably, I find myself in need of a refreshing, cold treat. I’ve honestly never visited a bad gelateria in Florence, but Il Procopio has an excellent blend of typical and more unique flavors. My favorites are amarena (cream and sour cherry) and nocciola (hazelnut) for traditional flavors, and the il procopio specialty flavor that won first place at the Florence gelato festival for something special.
Italy Travel Tip: Order two or three flavors in one cup to try everything you want – ask the server for due gusti (two flavors) or tre gusti (three flavors).
7. Best Aperitivo: Oibò
Florence, Italy – Spritz and Snacks at Oibò
See my photos from Florence
The food of Florence, Italy will keep you delighted and satisfied for your entire trip – but you can’t forget to experience the local nightlife as well. Around seven o’clock, it’s time for aperitivo, a social, relaxing couple of hours to drink a cocktail or two and have some snacks with your friends. Aside from their luxurious cocktails, the reason Oibò is my favorite aperitivo place is its location. Because it borders on Piazza Santa Croce, you can sit outside and enjoy your drink while taking in the marble facade of the Basilica of Santa Croce at sunset. Some of the most popular Florentine cocktails are the negroni, an herbal, gin-based drink, and the spritz, flavored with refreshing orange and fizzy prosecco.
Enjoy the complimentary aperitivo buffet of cured meats, cheeses, vegetables, and pasta salads.
Address: Oibò, Borgo dei Greci, 1, 50122
8. Best Dinner: Trattoria Al Tranvai
Florence, Italy – Panna Cotta and Tiramisu at Al Tranvai
See my photos from Florence
I long to visit Al Tranvai more than any other restaurant in the world. The homey atmosphere and unforgettable food make it the absolute best place for a classic and delicious Florentine meal. Named for the vintage train car featured inside, Al Tranvai is a bit further away from the tourist attractions than the other restaurants on this list and it attracts more local patrons. The menu features traditional food of Florence like gnudi – ricotta and spinach dumplings baked with cheese – and zucchini fritti, crispy fried zucchini. The restaurant is small and you might face a small wait for your table, but inside is a bottle of house wine, a warm atmosphere, and a slice of the best tiramisu you’ve ever tasted for dessert.
If you only go to one restaurant on this list, make it this one.
Address: Trattoria Al Tranvai, Piazza Torquato Tasso, 14r, 50124
Is it Worth Tasting the Food of Florence?
I know this is an unnecessary question, but let me put it another way: Is it worth spending your precious time to find great places to experience the food of Florence? Even put this way, my answer is still an emphatic yes! Especially, coupled with my walking tour of Florence which includes detailed maps, you can easily add one of these tasty places to your experience of Florence. Florence has amazing dishes that range from simple sandwiches to fresh gelato and complex flavorful masterpieces. So, yes, take you time and include some of these places in your Florence itinerary.
About the Author: Stephanie Manaster lived in Florence, Italy and spent a year traveling around the continent. She loves visiting churches, trying new restaurants, and getting lost on the wrong side of the river.