Italy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, offering a wealth of history, art, and culture that fascinates and inspires millions of tourists.
Even if you’ve never visited Italy, you’ve surely experienced its international influences, namely its world-famous gastronomy.
Italian food is the most ubiquitous cuisine of them all. There’s a pizza and pasta restaurant, boxed noodles, and canned marinara sauce in every city, town, and convenience store in every country.
If you’re lucky enough to visit Italy, sampling its exquisite cuisine should be the top priority.
My most recent travels took me to the heart of Tuscany, the capital city of Florence.
While incredible food lies around every corner, I’ve narrowed down a list of the best restaurants in Florence to entice you below.
Via de’ Ginori, 8/R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 075 0600
La Ménagère is a romantic, rustic-chic café, cocktail and tapas bar, and dinner restaurant in the central region of Firenze, caddy corner from the Giardino di Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
Its stunning multi-room dining space in an ancient building has a different décor for each room.
For a more casual espresso, snack, or aperitivo, the quaint and casual café and bar, adorned with flowers and succulents, are charming and lively.
Additional romantic lair-like dining rooms have stone-angled ceilings and candle-lit custom-made wooden tables. They serve globally inspired foods like poke bowls and burgers with an Italian twist.
I went for their decadent breakfast and had a Lavazza espresso to accompany an elaborate breakfast toast with whole grain bread topped with a poached egg, marinated salmon, and bearnaise sauce.
P.za di Cestello, 3R, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 247 6956
As you might have guessed from its similarities to the English word, Essenziale is a contemporary fine dining Italian bistro open to global influences and dedicated to the art of simplicity.
Essenziale is a block from the Arno River in the Piazza di Cestello in a modern and sleek space with exposed wood-beamed ceilings, white walls, and brightly colored modern plastic chairs.
The Chef uses only the highest quality, essential ingredients to create a seasonally changing menu evoking the comforts of home cooking.
Customers can choose between a tasting menu and an a la carte menu. One of the most beautiful dishes I tried was the banana gnocchi with black garlic and artichoke.
Via delle Caldaie, 12 R, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 282223
Gurdulù Gastronomia is a deli, bakery, wine bar, and small plate restaurant in a charming and industrial-chic space a block from Pitti Palace.
They have casual counter service from an impressive glass case full of the freshest cured meats, loaves of bread, and prepared foods.
Customers can order any number of dishes and snacks from the deli counter to consume in the cute wood-floor dining room.
The visual of dozens of fresh salads, cheeses, cured meat, pasta, and tortes is a feat for the eyes. There’s also an afternoon menu with a smaller selection of signature dishes, and I recommend ordering a few plates from the menu to split at the table.
I had the beef carpaccio over fresh melon with Cipriani sauce and mustard and the risotto with yellow peppers, peach, and lavender.
Via dell’Orto, 49, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 224421
A San Frediano district favorite since 1986, Il Guscio honors the deep-rooted history of its surroundings by offering the most authentic Tuscan dining experience.
The cozy and romantic restaurant has three rooms, each a preservation of its centuries-old architecture with gorgeous oil paintings, washed-wood furniture, and exposed beamed ceilings.
Il Guscio takes special pride in its carefully selected wine list using exclusively Tuscan labels.
The multi-course menu at Il Guscio features Tuscan dishes, starting with small plates, followed by meat and seafood-centric main dishes, and finishing with a decadent dessert.
Your server will help you pair wine with your meal. I started with pappardelle with rabbit with a white sauce, followed by a super-rich duck breast with orange glaze and sauteed herbs.
Piazza della Passera, 2, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 215969
Overlooking the Piazza Della Passera, Il Magazzino is a locally owned osteria and wine bar in an intimate and casual atmosphere here in Florence.
There’s outdoor seating along the charming limestone street. The chef delivers comforting plates of Tuscan foot in heaping portions to pair with an impressive wine list.
The moderately priced menu has a small yet perfectly executed multi-course menu. The antipasti menu alone was worth the trip.
I loved the utterly luxurious fried brie with sesame seeds. The ossobuco di Vitella was saucy and sumptuous, with a lemon and orange kick to the tomato-stewed veal.
Via delle Terme, 51 / r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 389 6135
Ristorante Oliviero 1962 is a traditional Italian restaurant and wine bar with a laid-back and comfortable atmosphere located a few blocks from the Palazzo Vecchio.
I loved the old-school rustic atmosphere with stucco walls with inlaid stone arches, frescos, and miniature lamps lighting every table.
It epitomized the Italian ristorante stereotype you’d see in a Hollywood movie. The front room has a grand piano with a professional serenading a multi-course dinner.
The menu is reminiscent of a steakhouse. Following the suggestions from friends and my server, I tried the gnocchi with burrata which was a religious experience.
I also loved their perfectly cooked Florentine Steak.
Via Romana, 70/r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 228 6018
Owned by a seasoned restaurateur team who own the Enoteca Pitti Gola located right next door, L’Osteria dell’Enoteca is an elegant yet inviting Tuscan restaurant and wine bar across the Via Romana from Boboli Gardens.
Set in a centuries-old stone and brick space with dome-shaped walls and archways, the view is stunning.
If it weren’t for the white tablecloths, tulips, and fine China, I would’ve confused it for ancient ruins. Suffice it to say it was a special atmosphere to enjoy a fantastic dinner.
The lead chef is Chef Nicola Chiappi, who uses the freshest local ingredients to pair with an award-winning wine list. I recommend the stewed rabbit with olives and snow peas.
Via dei Benci, 3, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 217833
Located in the heart of Florence City Center, La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant is a family-friendly Italian restaurant and wine bar with a bustling atmosphere and creative, funky decorations.
Even though La Buschetta Food and Wine Restaurant is a kitschy restaurant catering to English-speaking tourists, the wine and food are still amazing.
The vast menu features an array of Tuscan salads, appetizers, pasta, main courses, and desserts.
I recommend trying their mozzarella tasting plate with for di latte, buffalo, burrata, and Stracciatella along with an order of toasted Tuscan bread to start.
My favorite primi plate was their risotto with lemon, saffron, and shrimp.
Via dell’Oche, 11R, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 230 2153
Featured in the New York Times, Frommers, Lonely Planet, and Vogue to name a few, Coquinarious is a beloved enoteca in the center of town located directly behind the Duomo of Florence.
They specialize in Mediterranean Italian cuisine, offering an intimate and authentic atmosphere with mismatched wooden tables and chairs and walls lined with wine bottles.
They have a creative and visually stunning menu of antipasti, pasta, main courses, and dessert. I started with the chickpea flatbread with salty codfish and caramelized onions, and the pear and cheese ravioli was a unique dish I tasted on my trip.
Via dei Lavatoi, 3/r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 234 4880
A local favorite off the tourist radar, Osteria dei Pazzi is a Tuscan-Mediterranean comfort food restaurant open for lunch, dinner, and late-night meals.
The kind and helpful staff welcome tourists and love to help guests navigate the menu. Located across from Piazza Santa Croce, Osteria dei Pazzi has a welcoming and casual atmosphere.
You’ll get heaping portions of whatever your order, in accordance with Osteria dei Pazzi’s comforting philosophy. The no-frills plating lets the food speak for itself.
I ordered the most comforting dish on the menu for my first plate, a heaping plate of tagliatelle with Bolognese sauce.
Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 3R, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 399 7593
Ristorante Brandolino is a fine-dining contemporary Italian restaurant in an opulent dining space with grandiose chandeliers hanging from high, arched, and smoothed stone ceilings.
Located next door to the Cappelle Medicee, Ristorante Brandolino offers stunning presentations of culinary art that combine traditional Tuscan dishes with modern cooking techniques and flavors.
There is a full cocktail bar and a wine list with over 200 varieties, most of which are sourced from the surrounding Tuscan vineyards.
The plating wins my vote for most artistic and colorful, often adorned with edible flowers. I started with the hand-cut steak tartar with fresh goat’s milk, truffled cheeses, and black truffle.
My main dish was nothing short of superb. I ordered the lamb chops with polenta, cream of artichoke, gin sauce, and brussels sprouts.
Borgo dei Greci, 37, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218605
Located less than a block from the Roman Theater of Florence, Trattoria Il Bargello is the cutest, most stereotypical Italian eatery, offering the quintessential Italian dining experience.
It has received hundreds of five-star ratings on Trip Advisor for its comforting food, friendly staff, and old-school dining room with red and white checkered tablecloths and pink stucco walls.
This is the restaurant that New York Italian restaurants try to imitate. Their menu is very affordable without sacrificing authenticity and flavor.
I went with a date and split the Tuscan cold-cut plate with crostini to start. Their wild boar stew with potatoes was the height of comfort food.
Via Rosina, 2r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218550
The Trattoria Mario is an iconic and historic San Lorenzo haunt that’s been a family-run business since 1953.
Originating as a wine shop, owners Romeo and Amelia converted it into a trattoria for their son Mario’s wedding in 1957.
The dining experience was so memorable that they made it a full-time trattoria, eventually passing its ownership to Mario himself and later to Mario’s children, Fabio and Romeo.
Located across from Mercato Centrale, Trattoria Mario offers a different menu every day, with only three dishes on the menu.
However, they always serve three additional dishes to supplement the daily menu: Florentine steak, ragu over rigatoni, and Ribollita.
Since ribollita is the most famous Tuscan soup, I had a bowl of it, which they make with black cabbage, veggies, and soaked bread.
Via Nazionale, 122r, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 269 3813
Finally, a pizzeria! Outside of Naples, pizza is more of a snack than a sit-down meal, usually served by the slice from a display case of square thin-crust pies.
Matto Matto is a Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzeria and Italian restaurant with a casual and bustling atmosphere.
A few blocks from the Giardino della Fortezza, Matto Matto received the highest TripAdvisor endorsement.
Their pizzas are incredible and enormous, with the bubbliest outer crusts. They also have a full menu of salad, pasta, and traditional Tuscan main courses.
Still, if there’s one item to order, it’s the pizza. I got the pesto e pomodorini, a pesto-based pizza with fresh mozzarella and tomato slices.
Borgo S. Jacopo, 57/r, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 055 212427
Locally owned, Trattoria Cammillo is a family-friendly yet utterly romantic Tuscan trattoria with arched brick ceilings, rot iron light fixtures, white tablecloths, and random paintings and photographs lining the walls.
It’s located a block from the Ponte Santa Trinita. The large menu has an overwhelming selection of antipasti, pasta, vegetables, cheese, fish, meat, and house-made desserts.
The vegetables and pasta are meant for sharing and enjoying family-style. Their deep-fried zucchini flowers were amazing. I also loved the porcini mushroom tagliatelle.