Modern chic: IO Osteria Personale
Tucked away in the artsy district of San Frediano, you will find, if you’re lucky, IO Osteria Personale. This tiny restaurant is at the heart of Tuscan cuisine, but not how you might expect. Expert chef, Nicolò Baretti, has foregone the famous Italian practice of serving pasta, pasta, and yet more pasta: there’s not a sliver of linguini or a noodle in sight. A Tuscan native, the young chef revitalizes classic regional recipes of meat, vegetables and fish. The steak tartare, here, is a particular achievement. And the excellent selection of regional wines comes from a number of smaller, less-known vineyards.
All is served up in the long, understated dining room that is a sparse, but utterly stylish contrast of black and white hues. Here, there’s soft jazz from the corners, no dusty wine bottles nor Dean Martin’s croon—this, like the food, is utterly fresh.
Classy classic: Rivoire
If you’re looking for something grand, this one’s for you. Opened over a century ago by Enrico Rivoire, a chocolatier for the royal family, this caffe soon began to create buzz around the country, and soon around the world.
Its Renaissance architecture and bright Italian terrace opens into the Palazzo della Signora, the very heart of old Florence. With stunning views of the towering Palazzo Vecchio across the square and delectable delicacies that are still made in the way of Enrico Rivoire, this caffe has been a top destination for chocolate-loving tourists and locals alike. There’s no need to feel guilty—this is a cultural experience.
Italian eclectic: Il Canapone
After an afternoon wandering in the Boboli Gardens in the south of Florence, Il Canapone has just what you need. A short descent into what seems a cellar brings you into the warmth of this chic, Tuscan restaurant. A warm atmosphere permeates and the walls are eclectically decorated with original artwork—but you’re not here for the décor. You’re here for the food.
Here you can experience some of the best, modern Tuscan cuisine in the world. With a menu that changes every month to reflect the current seasonal ingredients, you’re sure that everything from the appetisers to the gooey chocolate cake (a particular favourite) will be impeccably fresh. A full range of Italian wines compliment the dishes and your server will surely recommend the current best. This unique restaurant reinvigorates the spirit of Florence in Santo Spirito.
Tuscan traditional: Cibrèo
Just across the street from the il Teatro del Sale, you’ll find the collection of establishments bearing the name Cibrèo. If you’ve been dreaming about a truly ‘Italian’ eating experience since you arrived in Florence, this could truly be it. There’s a caffe, a trattoria, and a restaurant, all offering you traditional tastes of Tuscany in a setting that is as classic as its dishes.
Eccentric design highlights the wine bottles lining the shelves, the long, romantic candles, and the seasonal flowers that decorate the tables. The cuisine is exceptional—no pasta, following the Florentine tradition—, prepared by the famous chef, Fabio Picchi. To the dulcet tones of his singing in the kitchen, the waiters walk you through the menu, suggesting wines and accompaniments to make you meal unforgettable. Next door, the trattoria serves a reduced selection for half the price, while the caffe offers a variety of coffees and pastries. Throw in a show at il Teatro across the street, and you have the makings of a perfect Florentine evening.
Taste of history: Cantinetta Antinori
Immerse yourself in history at the Cantinetta Antinori. Among the oldest and most famous families in Florence, the Antinori family mansion in the heart of old Florence is a prime example of medieval Florentine construction. In those days, the produce of family estates was sold through a small window opening onto the street. Today, this practice has transformed into a five-star restaurant: Cantinetta Antinori.
It’s present incarnation opened in 1957, but keeps alive the traditions dating back to the family‘s roots in 1385. Here, full selections of wines from the renowned Antinori vineyards can be sampled, along with exquisite dishes prepared of seasonal ingredients from the family’s estates in Tuscany and Umbria. History is alive at the Cantinetta Antinori, romance in its intimate atmosphere. This is Florentine flavours at their very best.