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High-quality ingredients are emphasised in the simplicity of central Italian cooking, where plain grilled meats, game, superb breads and sheep's milk cheese feature strongly. Tuscans, particularly, eat dried beans in many guises, such as soups or stews with oil and sage. Crostini, toasted bread with a variety of toppings, are another speciality, and make the perfect starter before tackling a juicy bistecca alla fiorentina, a prime-quality grilled steak, or tagliata, T-bone served with rocket and parmesan cheese.
In this central region of Italy the local Italian red wines include Chianti from Tuscany, the outstanding Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Enjoy a light white wine from Umbria, Orvieto, and other terrific reds can be found from Montefalco.
In Florence itself there are literally hundreds of restaurants, the majority of which are to a very high standard and will cater for everyone tastes and wallets but especially popular are the establishments that serve up the traditional Tuscan dishes and local specialities. Whether you are looking to try one of the formal fine dining restaurants or prefer a more informal local looking eatery it is always a good idea to check if you need to make a reservation as some can be very busy especially during the main tourist season.
Read more on this destination in the AA Essential Guide to Florence & Tuscany.
Recommended restaurants in Florence
Baldovino, Via San Giuseppe 22r - An informal combination of modern or traditional, this has been one of Florence’s great successes in recent years with a mix of good food, bright décor, young staff and a convivial cosmopolitan atmosphere near Santa Croce.
Coco Lezzone, Via Parioncino 26r - One of the last of Florence’s truly traditional trattorie, serving freshly prepared local dishes in old-fashioned surroundings.
Enoteca Pinchiorri, Via Ghibellina 87 - One of Italy’s most famous and prestigious restaurants where the quality of the food is matched by the superb wines and service.
Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco, Borgo s Jacap 43r, Oltrarno - Set south of the river, off the beaten path, this old style trattoria has been overseen by the Masseli family since the 1960’s. The menu is filled with traditional Tuscan recipes including the tender cinghiale (wild boar).
Vivoli, Via Isole delle Stinche 7r - A Florentine institution run by the same family for three generations, with a reputation for gelati (ice-cream), sorbets and frozen yoghurts. It is in a side street just to the west of Piazza Santa Croce off Via Ghibellina.