Florence April 2007
A big thank you to all Chowhounders whose posts we appreciated greatly. It can be hard to coordinate sightseeing and museumgoing with the strict Italian restaurant hours and varying closing days (especially Sunday) so we weren’t able to make it everywhere we hoped to, but we did pretty well. All prices given are the total bill for two people with bottled water and coffee.
Le volpi e l’uva (Piazza dei Rossi, 1, Oltrarno, 055 2398132) Wonderful wine bar with a great selection of Italian wines, particularly from Alto Adige/Sudtirol. Delicious crostini, panietti, salumi and cheese plates. You can also buy bottles. They are open till 9 and it is easy to make this place a pre-dinner habit. We loved a slightly obscure Tuscan from Monteregio, a Sudtiroler Cabernet, and an aromatic Piculit-Neri from Veneto. Most glasses 2 – 4.5E, more for stuff like Brunello di Montalcino; food 2 - 6E.
Trattoria Anita (Via del Parlascio 2/r, corner Via Vinegia 16/r, 055 218698) This is a classic, inexpensive Tuscan place run by warm and funny trio of brothers, tucked away on a side street. It was our first dinner in Florence and we spent the rest of our trip trying to find penne arrabiata that matched the intense fresh tomato flavor they achieved. Wonderful tortellini with creamy tomato-sausage sauce. We had bistecca fiorentina here at one of the lowest prices in Florence (30E per kilo) that was classic, perfect, at least two inches thick, charred on the outside and red rare inside, served with lemon. Side of rucola salad. House wine from a barrel. After some less enjoyable and more expensive meals I wish we had eaten here more. This was our favorite meal in Florence. 53E.
Nerbone (Central market) Don’t miss a stop here and don’t be afraid to get the trippa—it’s fantastic, and I am not a big tripe fan. We also had a plate of sliced pork, a wonderful salad, and carafe of wine, 17E.
Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco (Borgo San Jacopo, 43/r, Oltrarno, 055 215706) Cozy and comfortable. Started with the divine lardo di colonnata, I absolutely love the stuff, paper thin slices served with crostini and radicchio. Strozzi (?), large spinach-ricotta balls in a butter sauce, light in texture, delicious; fusilli with truffle sauce was nice but nothing special. Roast pork with potatoes juicy and good (partner favors pork); tasty thin veal cutlet in a green herb sauce was served with a side of spinach. We got a side of breaded, fried artichokes which were good but the frying didn’t let the fresh artichokes shine as well as other preparations we had on the trip. Tiny profiteroles in chocolate sauce were excellent. House wine. 90E.
Baldovino (Via San Giuseppe, 22/r, next to Santa Croce) Great location and outdoor eating area, we ate here with someone we met at our B&B. We splurged on a bottle of Rosso di Montalcino, 25E. Tuscan salumi assortment was large and included a slice of my divine lardo. Partner and friend had some pasta I can’t remember and split a bistecca, which was good but not as good as Anita; I had gnocchi with asparagus followed by asparagus-stuffed lamb, very good. 120E (for 3).
Coquinarius (Via delle Oche, 15/r, 055 2302153) We went here for a light late dinner and were pretty disappointed, as it had been recommended by our B&B, and we loved their other recommendations. It was full of French people, and bills itself a wine bar, with an interesting selection. It is probably worth another try. We had glasses of wine; a plate of breseola with rucola; I had a crostini assortment which was OK, liver and artichoke spreads being the standouts; partner had papperdelle with boar ragu which was terrible—the sauce tasted like it was from a jar. I think this was about 35E but I don’t remember exactly.
My gelato opinions: Grom (Via delle Oche, across from Coquinarius) is the best. Perche No (Via Tavolini near Calzaiuoli) was also very good. Vivoli is overpriced and not as good. Avoid the giant fluorescent mounds you see everywhere.
If you are looking for cheap street food in the city center, a tripe and pork cart on Via Dante Alighieri a few blocks east of Calzaiuoli was very popular with local workers and policemen. We passed it every day but never sampled.
Finally, for Cibreo fans, across from Cibreo on Via dei Macchi is their new dinner theater, Teatro di Sale, which sounds fun. Our neighbor in the B&B went and loved it, but unfortunately it was closed Sunday and Monday, when we could have gone. You pay a 5E one-year membership fee, then dinner and the performance is 25E per person. The food is served buffet and family style and is from the Cibreo kitchen; after dinner the tables are cleared and the performance begins.