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Restaurants of Florence

April 29, 2009 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Food

Editor’s Note: This post was written by guest contributor Katie Greenaway.

The center of Florence, Italy has countless ristoranti and trattorie. Which do you choose? The waiters in Piazza Repubblica and Piazza Signoria grab your attention by conversing with you as you skim over the menu. They devise a plan to convince you to eat at their ristorante and then lure you inside. Most give in because of the exhaustion tourists have in the heat of summer and feel they should stay in familiar areas. But what about all the places you are missing outside the touristic center, on the Oltrarno, for example? Walking over the Ponte Vecchio to the other side brings a breath of fresh new smells and vistas. The alleyways hide a lot from the cautious traveler. Walk down one and see what you find.

Quattro Leoni is located on Piazza della Passera. It meets at a crossroads. The ristorante is set on the corner of the piazza that brings the bustle of the city to a gentle whisper. Inside there are about a dozen tables that are full on any given night. In the spring and summer, enjoy lunch outside under the umbrellas. People-watch or bask in the calm and simplicity of the piazza. Reservations are a must on the weekends. Notice the walls, they contain photos of many celebrities that frequent this secluded locale. Yes, even Sting eats here! This spot is very popular because few tourists stroll into Piazza della Passera. This place is usually run by the locals. Be aware when waiting to be seated that there might be some regulars that pop ahead of you. No worries as they will seat you, the staff is very welcoming and kind.
bevo-vino-florence-Italy.jpg tiramisu-recipe.jpg Bevo Vino (left) © Rob React and Tiramisu (right) © Koyochi

Bevo Vino welcomes each patron with warmth and charm. When you enter Bevo Vino you are arriving at an old friend’s home. Small secluded table areas with an opportunity to sit alone and enjoy the atmosphere around you. The menu is small with recommendations galore from the wait staff. Seasonal dishes are featured as well as typical desserts like tiramisu, which is a must when in Florence. A few tables are scattered throughout giving you a feel of what it is like to be a local. Smell the fresh tomatoes as they pass by on a plate of bruschetta. They come to the table with kindness and smiles. Prego, cosa volete? (My pleasure, what would you like?) I don’t know any other place in Florence as bona fide and personable. It’s so fresh and genuine that it’s worth a stop off the beaten path.
ponte-vecchio-italy.jpg Cross Over To Oltrarno © Katie Greenaway

Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolo is a family run osteria that gives each patron a sense of home. Tables are booths and you could end up sitting next to people you don’t know. There is a lower level with tables arranged like in a cantina; all you need is a barrel of wine. A cute little bar sits in the left corner where you pay and where the waitress picks up your dishes. All guests leave here happy. As some osterias are rather pricey, this one is worth every penny. Each day their menu consists of specialties made from the heart and soul. Both located in San Niccolo, you will notice as night falls how the locals flock into crossroads between Bevo Vino and Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolo. Immerse yourselves with the sounds of authentic Florence. Experience small cars honking as they squeeze through people-crowded streets, the chatter of Italian banter, and the clinging of glasses and dishes which allows us to realize we aren’t dreaming.
katie-greenaway.jpg Katie Greenaway fell in love with Italy from her first visit in 2002. She now calls it home, writing and capturing the culture of the enchanting city of Florence. She is always exploring the ancient cobblestones of Florence, one step at a time. Follow her blog: Olio di Oliva e Sogni di Vino and Twitter.



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30 Responses to “Restaurants of Florence”
  1. Liz says:

    Love Italy. I spent much of my time there filling up on Italian delights. Planning to return and will keep these restaurants in mind for Firenze. Sounds like they’re great.

  2. Dinny says:

    Quattro Leoni is great. Probably had my best meal in Italy there, which is saying a lot. Tiramisu is a favorite too.

  3. Gennaro says:


    Katie found some gems, for sure.


    Tiramisu is one of my favorites too. You’ll find some of the best in the world in that region. Veneto is where it originated. Not to far away.

  4. Suzy says:

    I’ve heard great things about Quattro Leoni. Will check it out when I get up to Florence again. My favorite Italian eats are the small pizza spots in Napoli. Antica Pizzeria de Michele is the top choice of the well known ones.

  5. J.D. Meier says:

    I really like the pictures.

    I’ve never been to Italy, but now I know where to go. The only time I’ve seen Italy is in I Love Lucy and a few movies.

  6. Tina says:

    I still remember eating at Antica Mescita di San Niccolo with Katie, the first day we met. 🙂

    I won’t reveal my favorites in Florence as I want to keep them a secret… 😉

  7. Gennaro says:


    da Michele is great. Lots of others around the city too.

    @J.D. Meier

    You’d love it. Italy seems to steal everyone’s heart and minds.


    Talk about a great place for a first meeting. Don’t blame you for keeping your favorite spot under wraps.

  8. Katie says:

    Thanks for all the comments guys! Hope you all make it to Florence soon.

    a presto,

  9. fly girl says:

    Florence is one of my all time fave cities. I dared to read this post without eating lunch! Frankly, I’ve never been to an Italian trattoria or ristorante that wasn’t heavenly. Here in Chicago, which boasts scads of Italian eateries, my fave has to be Rose Angelis, a warm,charming restaraunt with mezza luna ravioli that I love.

  10. Salwa says:

    Florence is one of the beautiful cities I have been to in Italy. Been there twice, and would still love go again!

  11. Gennaro says:

    @fly girl

    Me too. Between the art, food, and locals it’s tough to beat that city. Thanks for the recommendation.


    I’ve been a few times too and agree that it’s always worth a re-visit.

  12. jen laceda says:

    Oh gosh, that Tiramisu is to die for. I’m in Paris right now…but I’m craving for this Italian dessert!!

  13. Sire says:

    I have always planned to go to Italy to see where my family originated from. I love the old buildings and have always wondered how the food would compare to what I am used to. I’ve heard from many that the coffee is to die for and that once you have tasted an Italian pizza no other pizza can ever replace the taste sensation.

    Florence is obviously one of the many cities I want to visit and perhaps I can come back and add my experience of the above restaurants to this post.

  14. Gennaro says:

    @jen laceda

    Love tiramisu too. Enjoy Paris. A great city.


    That is one trip you won’t forget. Something about visiting the place of your heritage that gives a little tingle in the stomach.

  15. Sire says:

    Your not wrong there. Man I will be taking so many photos and eating so much food I won’t want to come back. Then again, if I eat that much food I may not be able to fit on the plane anyway. 😉

  16. Did you really have to tease me with this tiramisu! It’s just been too long since I had one of those.

  17. Viva Italia! Florence is a true gem, unfortunately for me a very distant memory.

  18. Gennaro says:


    Just don’t fly United in that case 🙂

    @Beach House

    A bit of motivation to go out and have some tiramisu.


    A beautiful city, indeed.

  19. angie says:

    lovely pictures and the cake looks great

  20. Sire says:

    Man, by the time I get to go they may have changed the rules, or perhaps I will be such a famous blogger that they will make an exception 😀

  21. Puna says:

    I’ve never been to Florence! I want to go now! Do you ever go to Asia?

  22. Laura says:

    Brava Katie! Look forward to eating there on the next trip 🙂

  23. jen laceda says:

    Thanks for introducing me to the writing of Katie. I love her blog! I love her intimate knowledge of Florence. My only regret is, not having read this post when we went to Florence. Oh well, next time, it is!

  24. Gennaro says:


    Hope that comes to true 🙂

    @jen laceda

    Definitely worth reading before your next trip or just for an escape.

  25. Travis says:

    I haven’t visited the restaurants you listed, but I have never been to Florence without making a stop at Ciro & Son’s. My best friend and I found it on our first trip up there, and I’ve been back half a dozen times.

    The atmosphere is always amazing, from the champagne that the owner’s wife brought my girlfriend and I as we waited outside, through the meal, to the shots of grappa and limoncello that get passed around after dinner.

    The first evening at Ciro & Son’s was the beginning of a running tally of the best meals of my life. That list now includes dinner at Gumbo’s in Austin, TX; a free meal at a casino in Koper, Slovenia; chicken and wine with friends at some hole-in-the-wall place in Bulgaria; and two separate dinners at Ciro’s. Ciro & Son’s has proven to be the only place that has been as good a second (or third or fourth) time as it was the first.

  26. Gennaro says:

    @Travis – Thanks for the great tips.


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