Florence Offers Amazing, Elegant Options for Fine Dining
By Alexa Schnee
Florence Local Expert
With so many options, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of fine dining places in Florence. "Fine dining" itself is hard to define, since a five-star rating will not guarantee that you will get the best food in the city. With places like La Pentola dell'Oro and Osteria Santo Spirito, however, you are sure to find something that will give you an idea of why Florence is touted as a culinary capital. Whether you want something more relaxed and enjoyable or a full fine dining experience, the city has something to offer everyone. As always, asking some of the locals where their favorite spots are can yield some good results, though most will direct you to the other side of the river to some quieter neighborhoods rather than the crowded and busy areas of Santa Croce and the Duomo. You might also need to keep in mind that paying with cash is sometimes easier than paying with a card in Italy--though most places are sure to offer you that option, sometimes card readers have a hard time going through. After you have had a delicious meal, grab a gelato and enjoy the view of the river from one of the bridges--it's a gorgeous view in the evenings.
Trattoria la Casalinga
During the day, Trattoria Casalinga serves as a bar and a place for locals to grab a morning coffee. However, in the evenings it turns into a fun and delicious dining experience. You should think about trying some of the pastas along with a good bottle of wine. Don't be fooled by the interior--some of the best "fine dining" experiences in Italy are not the fanciest-looking. The view out into the Santo Spirito piazza is well worth a visit, and you can have a great people-watching experience while enjoying a fun, authentic meal with your friends and your loved ones. (39 055 218624)
If you are thinking about more of a typical fine dining experience, Enoteca Pinchiorri is well-known throughout the city for providing a rich and elegant atmosphere without seeming too pretentious. Not only boasting an incredible wine and beer selection, it also has some of the best desserts in the city. When gelato simply isn't enough, the dessert menu will be sure to satisfy any guest with a sweet tooth. Each dish is perfected to look like a work of art, and the outdoor seating is reminiscent of a Medici garden. If you want fine dining without question, this is the place to go. (+39 55 242 757)
Acqua al 2
When you are looking for quality Tuscan food with a modern edge, Acqua al 2 can be one of the best places to find what you are searching for. Originally a Florentine restaurant, it has expanded to other parts of the world including San Diego and Washington DC. Offering some great outdoor seating in the Centro Storico, you should think about getting a reservation there after a long day of sight seeing. Celebrities have been frequenting this spot for years and it has become a favorite of those looking for home-cooked Tuscan dishes with an edge. Expect to pay more here than you would at some other fine dining restaurants in the city. (39 055 284170)
It can be hard to find a great fine dining experience in the Santa Croce area--it's mostly populated by restaurants that study abroad students can afford. A good option when you want a great view is Finisterrae. Between having several private rooms where your group can meet, the food is also tasty Mediterranean fare with a modern taste. In combination with a solid cafe and pastry shop, it's kind of a one-stop place to taste the different flavors of Italy. Make sure you pick up one of their coffee drinks before you go and get a glimpse of the beautiful church of Santa Croce in easy view. (39 055 263 8675)
Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe
A short walk away from the Bargello or Santa Croce, Osteria del Gatto e la Volpe is a great place to duck in even if you don't have a reservation. The staff is happy to assist you in any questions you might have the menu and offer some great recommendations if you are unsure about what you would like to order. You should think about ordering any of the pasta dishes, but the pasta served with the "rosa" sauce is to die for. Make sure you save some room for a dessert and think about sharing a bottle of wine--it's a perfect place to bring friends. (39 055 289264)
If you are looking for a high-class pizzeria with a view, this is the place to go. Overlooking Santo Spirito, you get the best of Italian nightlife along with great service and delicious pizza and pasta options. It's also a place where you can feel comfortable bringing the entire family. If possible, see if you can get some outdoor seating so you can get the full effect of the piazza and what Italian night life is like. Any of the veggie options are also good if you are looking to skip out on meat while you are visiting Florence--their special recipes are mouth-watering and delivered quickly. (+39 055 210437)
Antica Trattoria da Tito
A favorite spot for locals, Trattoria da Tito has been around since 1913 and has been a spot to find some of the best paste in the Tuscan area since. They pride themselves on having some of the best meats and cheeses in the city of Florence, and paired with their home-made pasta, you will end up spending the whole night there. This place is a winner of multiple awards, and the chefs have a tried-but-true method of satisfying their customers with some of the perfectly baked pasta dishes. The house wine is also good, so you know you will walk away after having the perfect Tuscan meal after the bill has been paid. (39 055 472475)
Tucked in-between the Duomo and Piazza Signoria, this little gem has some amazing options on the menu for a fair price. Think about ordering the house wine with a special, or dive into a plate of gnocchi that you will find served to you in your own personal dish. The service is also incredibly fast by Italian standards, so if you need to get somewhere and only have a little bit of time to enjoy your meal, this restaurant is in a great location and can get you to where you need to be. It's the perfect place as a tourist to grab a meal before you head off to see more sights. (39 055 212098)
Osteria Santo Spirito
When you are looking for a fun place to sit down and enjoy a long dinner, this might be the place to do it. Reservations are necessary, so you will want to call earlier that day or even the day before. The gnocchi here is famous, as is the Zuppe di Cozze e Vongole. It's a good date night location, or a fun place to introduce children to Italian cuisine. You should also think about ordering some wine by the carafe to save on some money--the house wine is very good and you will get more than purchasing a bottle for the same price. (39 055 238 2383)
La Pentola dell'Oro
Serving up some of the most unique dishes in Florence, this place has a great staff with amazing seating in the cantina. Make sure to order some wine off their vast list and think about taking a bottle of the house wine with you. This place is unlike any other, offering options made from recipes dating back to the Middle Ages and the surrounding monasteries. Their rabbit special melts in your mouth, and their various pasta dishes always have a bit of a twist to them so you are sure to come back again and again. It's the perfect place for a night out as a couple or for a celebration. (39 055 241808)
About Alexa Schnee
Currently residing in Florence, Alex is a travel writer and author. She is addicted to coffee, reading, and seeing new places. She has been to near fifteen different countries in Europe, all without spilling her cappuccino. She's the author of Shakespeare's Lady, and is a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in New York, where she resided for two years. When she isn't on the road, you will most likely find her in the Uffizi Gallery or working on her next novel.
Read more about Alexa Schnee here.