With only a short time in Florence, I really wanted to maximize our dining options. Florence is in the northeast region of Tuscany so we were able to try all of the Tuscan favorites. This region is known for hearty food, excellent wine, and freshly pressed olive oil. If you’re traveling to Florence, do not miss the Florentine steak, fresh truffles, red wine, bruschetta with olive oil, and wild game (like boar and rabbit). Also notice the unique taste of Tuscan bread. It’s made without any salt! When salt was scarce, Italians in the Tuscany region used the little salt they had to preserve meat instead of flavoring their bread. It’s still done that way today! Here’s a rundown of some of our favorite places we ate at in Florence.
I Due Fratellini translates into “two brothers,” and rightfully so since they are the only two people running this hole-in-the-wall panini shop. We needed an extremely fast “eat-on-the-go” kind of place for lunch on our first day in Florence. I had read that there would be a line for I Due Fratellini, and all my research was right! The line moved pretty fast since there aren’t a lot of options on the menu. Matt and I both had ham, goat cheese, and fresh arugula paninis, and it was the best sandwich of my life. The bread was perfectly chewy and the creaminess of the goat cheese complimented it perfectly. Combine that with the saltiness of the ham and you’ve got a delicious authentic Italian panini!
We had drinks and appetizers on the outdoor patio at Cafe La Loggia, and it was so relaxing. While on the more expensive side, you have to remember that you’re paying for the best view in Florence. The restaurant is directly across the street from Piazza Michelangelo. From the piazza, you can see the Florence skyline with the river below. I’d recommend going at sunset… have your camera ready!
You cannot go to Tuscany without trying the Florentine steak. You’ll see it on the menu as “bistecca all fiorentina,” and you’ll definitely want to share with someone! A true Florentine steak is cut only from the white cows in Tuscany known as Chianina cows. The waiter won’t even ask you how you like your steak cooked because all Florentine steaks are served rare and sliced table side. Don’t embarrass yourself by asking for a well done Florentine steak… you’ll be laughed out of the restaurant! We also shared a sliced meat appetizer, a side dish of roasted potatoes, and caramel cheesecake for dessert… all delicious!
Right on the edge of Mercato Centrale (THE place to buy leather in Florence!), is a touristy hot spot known as Za Za Trattoria. Don’t let the touristy atmosphere stop you from eating here because this is the place to go for fresh truffles. Their truffle menu is extensive and reasonably priced. There are so many ways to try truffles! We started our meal with fried zucchini flowers… why aren’t these a thing in the States?? They were so light and crispy, but still had a faint taste of zucchini. Exactly what eating a flower should be like! For our main course, Matt tried a truffled pasta carbonara that was overwhelmingly truffle-y. I think the truffle oil used in the pasta sent it over the edge, and we couldn’t really taste any of the other ingredients. On the other hand, I had fresh pasta with zucchini, shrimp, and truffles and it was seasoned perfectly. If you’ve never had black truffles, then this restaurant cannot be skipped!
It’s so fun to see the differences in food as you travel from region to region. Italy was more diverse in their menu than I was anticipating! Next week, we’ll move towards the heart of Tuscany in a tiny village called Montepulciano. Thanks for reading!