Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Florence

During my month in Florence, I found myself eating out at least once a day, everyday. I know, I know, it’s totally unhealthy and it sucked my money up. But what can I say—I just really, really love Italian food.

So here’s a list of my favourite spots for a nosh in Florence; strap in for a long post!

Simbiosi

Ah, Simbiosi. The promised land. This was easily the best pasta I had in Florence (read: the best pasta I’ve had anywhere). We stumbled upon it accidentally on via de Ginori; it consists of a pizza restaurant and a separate pasta restaurant. It’s all-organic, features tons of vegan and vegetarian options, and is relatively cheap (around €8 per plate).

I recommend: spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino con crema di broccoli, and berry cheesecake for dessert.

I Buongustai

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If you’re missing home-cooked meals while you’re abroad, this is the place to go. The pasta tastes just like someone’s Nonna made it, and do not even get me started on the desserts. Having had tiramisu at almost every restaurant I visited, I can confidently say that I Buongustai has the best tiramisu in Firenze—you get a giant slab for only €5 and you will never again be able to eat tiramisu anywhere else. I almost wish I’d never tried it, because it has officially ruined my taste for any other dessert; the ricotta cheesecake is just as amazing. My mouth is watering just thinking about this place.

I recommend: penne con broccoli and tiramisu for dessert.

Trattoria Za Za

Something we learned while in Florence is that trattorias usually have cheaper—and, honestly, often even better—food than ristorantes. I don’t know if it was because it was the first time during the month that I had had truffle pasta, or if it really was just that good, but this place blew my mind. They bring cheesy bread to the table before the meal, and from that moment on I was sold; the staff were also super nice about accommodating nine annoying tourists who didn’t have a booking on a Saturday night (lol). The only criticism I have: the wall lined with creepy dolls. Why? What’s the purpose of that? Are they there to stare at me while I consume twice my body weight in carbs? Is it a weight loss tactic? Otherwise, this place is well worth a visit.

I recommend: truffle tagliatelle.

Il Vivandiere

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Okay, so Europeans eat dinner late. Really late. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a grandma at heart, but I tend to eat dinner around 6pm. Is that normal? Anyway, most restaurants in Italy don’t start serving dinner until 7 or 7:30pm; most people don’t eat until around 8pm. The first night we were there, it was 6pm and we were already starving. So a few quick clicks on TripAdvisor and we were out the door and headed to (what seemed like) the only restaurant in Italy that starts serving dinner at 6pm. We weren’t disappointed. All the dishes are fairly small, so we ended up splitting them family-style. The only thing that sucked was the slow service; other than that, everything we ate was incredible. Plus—if you’re a fan of lemon-flavoured desserts, the lemon tiramisu was a home run with everyone who tried it.

I recommend: spinach and ricotta dumplings, roast potatoes, and baked cauliflower cheese.

Gusta Pizza

I’m pretty sure this one is on every single existing list of the best Florence restaurants, and for good reason! Everyone who’d been to Florence before me told me that I would be cheating myself if I didn’t go here. Once I finally made my way to Gusta, I was kicking myself for not going weeks earlier. This is the greatest pizza I’ve ever eaten. Ever. I would go back to Florence in a heartbeat just for Gusta. There are only seven things on the menu—all pizza, apart from drinks—and they’re all €8 or less.

I recommend: margherita pizza.

Shake Café

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I’m a huge fan of carbs. HUGE. Literally their number one fan. But when you’re eating straight carbs for every meal (croissants for breakfast because duh), your body tends to start hating you for it. So in search of some fruits and veggies, we wound up at Shake Café. They have a giant menu chock full of salads and wraps and sandwiches and shakes. After consuming my weight in pizza and/or pasta every night, this cute little café was like a slice of health food heaven. Plus, it was very reminiscent of a Melbourne café; it was like a touch of home.

I recommend: the black bean salad and a raw cacao shake with almond milk.

Universo Vegano

2 words: vegan heaven. There’s nothing I hate more than when restaurants overthink vegetarian/vegan food. Stick to the basics! Universo Vegano is full of plain and simple, classic [vegan] meals, as well as some not-so-traditional stuff (zoodles, anyone?). Their portions are huge and the food not once disappointed us.

I recommend: chocolate croissant and a rice milk cappuccino with cinnamon and a dash of agave syrup.

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