A run down of Florence dining in case anyone's interested. Got lots of info from people on this board, thanks. Since our hotel wasn't ready at 9AM, we gathered strength and did some sightseeing with a break for a panini at a little bar off Proconsulo. Don't remember the name but it was the best snack I had there, proscuitto, cheese and eggplant with a cappucino. Got some wonderful gelato at Perche No near Orsanmichele and the dulce de leche flavor was quite good (as was the coffee crunch and pistachio). Dinner that nite was at Garga on Via del Moro which was fine but not as fun as I thought it would be. I wasn't hungry and just had pasta with octopus in a spicy red sauce which was good and my friend thoroughly enjoyed his veal picatta and proscuitto appetizer. Split tiramisu for dessert, had a nice waiter. Maybe I ordered the wrong thing or we should have been seated closer to the kitchen, but didn't see the fascination with this place.
Dinner Sat. was at Il Ritrovo on Via degli Pucci close to our hotel based on the raves I saw here. Afraid there are still not many people going to this place, only two other parties on a Sat. nite. Again, I wasn't wowed by the place and I'm sure I confused people just ordering a pasta dish, but I can't eat that much food. Had pasta with rabbit which was very rustic and tasty, more veal for my friend who said it was kind of chewy. Side of vegetables was terribly overcooked. But it was a pretty room and they were so nice. We asked if they had wines by the glass which they normally don't but they quickly got a bottle of white and red for us to try. Can't remember dessert but it was decent.
Sun. we wanted to eat at Astor Caffee which had an interesting, well priced menu but at that point, it was more of a bar scene with no one eating. We just wanted to get out of the rain and ended up at Buca de San Giordano (or something like that) downstairs by the Duomo. They're the choice of soccer/football players it looks like from the pictures on the wall. I had a nice fettucine with porcini, veal chop and more proscuitto for my friend. The chop was tasty but a little overcooked. Their special dessert was a chocolate crust filled with cream and berries which was okay. Lots of regulars greeted warmly by the manager there but we missed out on any sports stars that nite.
Mon. we overshot the street that Parione was on and ended up on Via del Porcellana with 13 Gobbi and Sostanza. Chose 13 Gobbi since it was cozier, seemed like the back room was the place to be and those of us with no reservations were in the front room. Some huge American party of a man with a bunch of sorority girls came, not sure what that story was. This was one of the nites I really ate and even tho I know Sostanza is known for their bistecca, that's what I got at 13 Gobbi and it was very good. Cooked perfectly, I ate every bite of that T-bone along with splitting a pasta carbonara and splitting great roast potatoes and wonderful garlic spinach. Dessert was a good ricotta cheesecake. My friend had a nice stuffed chicken and we really liked this place even with all the toursists. Got a drink at the Excelsior hotel after. Whew, now that's a hotel. Bet their showers are more than 2' by 2' (the worst thing about the Machiavelli).
Some random snacking included gelato at the infamous Vivoli which was fine but didn't seem better than any of the other places. Around the corner I had some great gelato at Gelateria dei Neiri (where I also found a great record store selling all LPs for 5 euros). Grabbed a gelato by our hotel on Via Nazionale at a place called Bermuda Trinagle I think. Bar Perseo had expensive gelato but I got to try the buontalenti flavor without the bus ride out to Badiana. Also had good hazlenut gelato at a place in Fiesole. Got a slice of pizza by the Bargello but it wasn't very good, wish we'd ordered a whole pizza somewhere. Read about this bar Capocacchia on Lungarno Corsini which we hit twice. 7.50 gets you a drink and their happy hour buffet which had some pretty good stuff (9.50 on Tues. was a sushi bar which packed them in). One room was really interesting, looked like the inside of a church. Also got drinks at Rex (Via Fiesolana), Art Bar (close to Garga) and Bar (across from the Central Market) which were interesting places. I think there were other places to take advantage of happy hour food if you so desired.
Our last and favorite dinner was at the least Italian place, Beccofino on the other side of the Arno in a tiny piazza (degli Scarletti). Large, modern place with a wine bar serving contintental food. We happened to hit half price wine nite (Wed. was special prix fixe and Thurs. was some champagne and seafood nite). We split an interesting pasta w/ langostino and I had quail with polenta which was great. Venison was the other entree. I had pineapple crostata for dessert which came with choclae mousse or semifreddo which didn't quite go, but it was like two desserts in one. The waiter said tourism was very slow but you could have fooled me. Tons of foreigners, esp. little Japanese girls all with the same shag haircut. Can't imagine being there later than March. I'm sorry I didn't see wild boar on any menus and I couldn't get into the tripe, but all in all, I don't think we're eating any worse in Boston.