Every year, Florence attracts millions of visitors who take in the splendor of the Duomo, browse the Uffizi Gallery, and walk the Ponte Vecchio. They have also propelled a multi-decade dining expansion in one of the world’s best-preserved UNESCO cities. Twenty years ago Florence had only one Michelin-starred restaurant (today’s three-star Enoteca Pinchiori) among its traditional mom-and-pop eateries. Today there are no fewer than eight, part of a dynamic food scene that includes dumplings, kebabs, and more.
At its heart, Florence is a hub of Tuscan cuisine, and the city is famous for its signature dishes like ribollita and bistecca alla fiorentina (T-bone steak). Nota bene: La Fiorentina steak is served by the kilo and rare (don’t ask for well-done); for smaller portions, opt for a tagliata cut. Street food culture is alive and well too, including the signature lampredotto, a cow’s fourth stomach traditionally slathered with green sauce and sandwiched in a bread roll. Due to taxes and salt wars with rival towns, for centuries Tuscans have made their bread saltless, so you’re often better off opting for schiacciata (Florence’s pizza bianca, not to be confused with softer Ligurian focaccia), which you can find plain or filled as panini.
Be sure to reserve ahead for the city’s best tables. Italian restaurants tend to do two turns at dinner, around 7:30 and 9 p.m. Go for the earlier seating to avoid waiting for locals, who tend to linger over their meals.
The war in neighboring Ukraine has affected food prices and utilities in Florence. Inflation and staffing challenges caused by the pandemic have hit Italy particularly hard too. Bring a bit of extra patience and budget for dining in the city, and keep enough cash for tips to show appreciation to a strained hospitality force inundated with mass tourism.
Coral Sisk is a sommelier, culinary tour guide, and writer with Italian and Persian heritage living in Florence, Italy. On the ground, she keeps up an Italian food travel blog and leads food tours in Florence and beyond.