Cantinetta dei Verrazzano
Cantinetta dei Verrazzano has one of the best wine selections in town, served with many, many choices of cheese and delicious focaccia combos, like pear with pecorino and truffle honey.
The three-Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri is a grand experience with a bevy of servers per table and an avant-garde nine-course tasting menu. The iconic spot has earned a place on several “World’s Best” lists thanks to decadent dishes like an artful fusilli al ferretto with shellfish and a tender, succulent roast pigeon—however, the wine is the real highlight here as the restaurant has the second biggest wine cellar in Europe. The upscale spot is perfect for a big night out.
Gelateria dei Neri
Though this Florentine institution is known for tripe and lampredotto (classic Florentine offal), the antipasti and pasta dishes here are some of the best in town. Try the coccoli with prosciutto and stracchino cheese, a classic Tuscan specialty of salty fried bread balls that you smother with cheese and top with prosciutto. The location is also authentically Florentine—the tiny, cute piazza in the Oltrarno district is frequented by locals. The wine selection is interesting, extensive, and fairly priced.
Il Santo Bevitore
This modern, spacious restaurant and wine bar has dark wooden tables, walls lined with wine bottles and a convivial atmosphere provided by the hip local patrons who flock here. It's a good choice for lunch or a laid-back dinner. Picky eaters will love the straightforward menu of salads, panini, pastas and risotto, while wine connoisseurs will appreciate its fine Tuscan vintages. Service is on the slow side but no one comes here to rush through a meal. Take your cue from the natives and linger over cheese plates or one of the tasty desserts. There are several rooms; for more privacy, reserve a table in the back.
La Buca dell'Orafo
Just steps from the Ponte Vecchio, La Buca dell’Orafo (it means goldsmith’s cave) attracts foreigners but is still considered a locals’ haunt. It’s called a cave because it’s in a below-ground space. The chef prepares Italian comfort food like spaghetti with peas that Italians will swear taste exactly as their grandmother used to make, but that you will never find on a restaurant menu. He also prepares some of the best steaks in the city.
Many places claim to serve bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine porterhouse), but only a handful are actually allotted the certified steaks, which come from regional cows that are slaughtered at a young age to guarantee tenderness. Don’t be shocked if they seem cooked only on the outside; that’s how you’re meant to enjoy them. This is a simple place with white tablecloths and kitchen-quality china, and at lunchtime, you may be able to walk in, but at dinner you must have a reservation; and even days in advance, one can be hard to secure, as locals have reserved tables.
La Casa del Vino
One of the oldest wine bars in Florence offers among the greatest selection of wines in the city, from small, lesser-known producers to rare old vintages of the most celebrated winemakers in the country. Besides incredible wines by the glass, the Casa del Vino has an unparalleled selection of cured meats, delicious gourmet Italian cheeses and other carefully selected products that customers can enjoy either on a platter or as a sandwich. The local crowd that frequents the wine bar is almost as much of a draw as the food and drink.
The name of this trattoria means housewife, and it's located in the Santo Spirito neighborhood, south of the river in the Oltrarno. In a city that seems intent on providing what it thinks tourists want (translation: international fare), this simple, authentic restaurant stands out as a place where you can get plain but perfectly prepared local dishes. The menu changes seasonally; try one of the daily specials.
Located fifteen minutes outside the city center, Villa San Michele’s renowned al fresco restaurant offers one of the most spectacular views of Florence. Arrive before sunset for an aperitivo in the garden and live piano music. Move onto the dining room where elegant waiters service a mix of couples and families who dine on elevated Tuscan classics. Open Daily.
Le Volpi e l’Uva
Florence’s most popular wine bar highlights the wines of small, lesser-known producers of a wide variety of wines from all over Italy.
Osteria delle Tre Panche
Tre Panche isn't new or difficult to get into, but rather, the osteria is well-off-the-beaten tourist path and a favorite foodie address guarded by locals. Its name means “three benches” and indeed, the tiny dining room holds just that: three communal tables (each with enough room for six diners). It’s a no-frills place, with white cushions and candles flickering on each table. The menu, too, is all about local classics, like bruschetta Fiorentina, pepper steak, homemade pasta with meat ragout and large leafy salads. The specialty of the house is truffles, and the steaming risotto covered in thin shavings of black truffles is a most popular dish. It's the type of place where when you leave, the owner presses what looks like a New York City doggie-bag into your hand and says, “A little treat for later.” (During my trip, it turned out to be a warm slice of homemade cheesecake, another local specialty). Tre Panche is super local; unless you want to sit alone in the dining room, don’t make reservations for earlier than 9 P.M.
Pizzeria Antica Porta
A casual eatery for great pizza, Antica Porta is a spot the whole family can enjoy. The pizzas are made in a wood-fired oven, and over 50 varieties are available. The cellar is stocked with sought-after wines, and fresh pasta and fish dishes are on the menu as well.
This old-style trattoria looks like a set from a Zeffirelli movie: barrel-vaulted and candle-lit, with rustic wooden tables, checked tablecloths and waiters of mature age and impressive girth who speak a charming mix of Italian, English and any other language they may overhear you speaking. Located on the left bank of the Arno but within walking distance of most major sites, Angiolino is a good place to try classics like zuppa lucchese (a hearty bean stew), bistecca alla fiorentina, which is served on the rare side, homemade ravioli with sage and butter, and for dessert, biscotti accompanied by a strong Vin Santo. And be sure to order an antipasti platter of cured meats and fresh mozzarella.
Open for lunch only, Mario (close to the Accademia) provides a real Florentine experience with communal tables. Come for Tuscan classics in a casual setting. Located next to the San Lorenzo market, Mario takes pride in its traditional offerings: ribollita, bistecca alla fiorentina and tagliatelle al ragu. Arrive early or be prepared to wait for a table. Cash only.
A no-frills place, Sostanza (also known as Il Troia) is legendary and the to go spot for Florentine steak.
Vini e Vecchi Sapori
A small restaurant with only ten tables, Vini e Vecchi Sapori serves simple, high-quality Tuscan dishes at very reasonable prices. The Mazzanti family, who owns the restaurant, is a lot of fun: mother Rosanna in the kitchen, father Mario slicing cheese and cured meats out front, and son Tommaso delighting diners with his antics as he serves delicious, authentic dishes like pappardelle with duck ragout, which even non-meat lovers tend to adore, and the absolutely exquisite paccheri pasta with zucchini flowers and saffron.