Dining and Drinking in Florence







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Dining Drinking in Florence    (Back to Florence main information page )                                

Tuscan cuisine, and Florentine food in particular is essentially based on simple, natural ingredients. It hails from the traditions of peasant food and is wholesome and tasty.

Extravirgin olive oil is held in pride of place in Florence, and it is never missing from the Florentine table. Olive oil from Tuscany is cold-pressed, green and pungent or 'pizzichino' (sometimes with a slightly bitter after-taste) and is eaten within a year and a half of harvesting the olives. Olive oil is used as a dip for foods such as celery, artichokes and pinzimonio (a selection of fresh vegetables). It is also used in cooking, and as a condiment for salads and delicious bruschette (seasoned toasts). Amongst the bruschette there is one that is king, and must be tasted to be believed! It is made with red cabbage and beans and then seasoned with pepe macinato (ground pepper) and Frantoio oil.

If you want to indulge in Florentine bread you should remember that in general, bread in Tuscany does not use salt. Try schiacciata if you want a more flavouresome bread - this is a crusty focaccia salted and drizzled with olive oil. A typical Florentine antipasto dish is a recipe called crostini di fegato, pieces of Florentine bread which have been baked and dunked in soup, and then garnished with chicken liver pat? capers and anchovies.

Another traditional Florentine speciality is the famous bistecca alla fiorentina steak. The steak comes from chianina stock; it is thick cut, weighs not less than 800gm and is cooked on the grill. A Fiorentina can satisfy two people, but there are brave man mountains who will attempt to eat one all by themselves! Unfortunately, because of the recent beef scares, it may be more difficult for you to get your teeth into one of Italy's most famous steaks.

The soups and minestre are well worth trying and they are derived from peasant traditions. The most delicious, famous Florentine soup is ribollita, made with a mixture of bread, vegetables and a type of red cabbage that is mainly grown in Tuscany. Ribollita derives its curious name from the fact that the peasant women would usually cook the soup in large quantities that would be boiled repeatedly (ribollita), and then eaten for several days. As with many leftovers, ribollita always tastes better the day after! Other delicious soups are pappa con il pomodoro and minestra di farro.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Schiacciata alla Fiorentina is a special Florentine treat: a sponge cake, covered with icing or sometimes filled with whipped cream (N.B. this is not to be confused with a savoury dish called schiacciata salata all'olio). Cantuccini di Prato are dry almond biscuits that are dipped in Vin Santo, a sweet, aromatic dessert wine.

These specialities can be found in the majority of Florence's restaurants. Some of the more famous, traditional restaurants include: Il Latini, Da Mario, Coco Lezzone and La Casalinga, there are also many others, so don't feel dismayed if you don't get into the places above.

If you fancy something more 'refined', or if you want to celebrate a really special occasion, then it is worth spending that little bit extra and going to L'Enoteca Pinchiorri, or Cibreo, you could also try Cammillo, although you will definitely need to book in advance.

There are also many enoteche or wine bars in Florence: here you can drop in, relax and have a glass or two of good Chianti with a sandwich (panino). In the most elegant places e.g. l'Enoteca de'Giraldi, and La Sosta del Rossellino, you can try delicious wines accompanied by tasty bruschette and delicate appetizers. La Barrique wine bar is also very popular and has an extensive wine list.

Italy is famous for its pizza and pizzerias can be found in almost every nook and cranny of Florence. Each pizzeria makes its own pizza and Florentine crusts tend to be thin and crispy, cooked in a wood fuelled oven. If you prefer the 'traditional' Neapolitan pizza, it is almost always possible to ask for a pizza with doppia pasta (double crust), which means you'll get a softer, thicker crust.

Recent years have seen a big growth in the amount of ethnic restaurants, ranging from the Chinese restaurants (which are the most common) to Caribbean e.g. La Bodeguita, from Mexican (Caf?Caracol), to Indian (Ashoka), to Japanese (Momoyama) and there are also many other restaurants in various areas of the city, including Kasher Ruth's, which is next to the synagogue. This restaurant sells traditional Jewish fare at reasonable prices. Vegetarian cuisine has also made an impression on Florence! Il Vegetariano serves wonderful meat-free dishes and is a huge success in the city.


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