hey - thanks for all the help on places in florence. came back from a couple weeks over there with kids, and wanted to give a small report.
we were located a little more than 1/2 a mile north of the duomo. therefore, i was looking for places that weren’t too far, and where we could get in relatively easy. that’s why sostanza didn’t happen, mario had too long a line for us and gozzi was closed.
what I noticed was that there were no places which absolutely blew me away. however, at almost EVERY place we went, the quality of the food was at least good, and often better. what flashes in my mind is if you’re eating at someone’s home and they are not a chef, but have cooked some same dishes for years. it’s made there, made fresh, and gives a good feeling.
so some places and thoughts…
trattoria zaza - had a risotto with asparagus and fresh truffles (really good), and tortellini with ham/white truffle sauce. was there twice, all dishes (pasta, pizza, cheeses) a hit.
il vezzo was slightly more upscale than the other places we ate at, and the food reflected that. i had a baked (I think?) octopus which was properly cooked and tasty. probably the ‘best’ of the places we ate at.
osterio pepe - actually had to leave (before ordering / bread and service) because one of our children was cranky and knew it wouldn’t work well - i apologized, said we’d back, and we were. i had the beef filet dish which was wonderful; cooked quite rare with a little cheese on top, and some flavoring. i believe it’s quite similar in flavor to the bistec ala fiorentina, and it was great.
trattoria il pocospino - my wife has eaten at before. she had a pair ravioli, i had a very good peposo. Word of warning (which we saw before we sat down) - they charge bread /service AND a 12% tip. interestingly enough, service and conversation with our server was outstanding, so the 12% wasn’t as painful - but i was surprised by this.
a different experience was at osteria cipolla rossa, where service was disinterested. it wasn’t just us, there were a two other tables there who received the same sort of (non) attention. food was fine, but negative service in an area with a ton of restaurants isn’t helpful.
ara had out of this world arancini. the pizzole was a hit as well, i was the only one liking the scacce. someone my wife knows went there a ton during their time in florence, and it’s very true to sicilian street food. gelato was top notch as well, and very nice people there.
tried lamprodetto at the mercato centrale, the bread, salsa and dipping sauce was great, but i couldn’t get through more than a few pieces of it. i felt the chewiness was worse than lobster (which i love) and the meat, when the salsa flavor was gone, didn’t taste that good.
the pizza at sud was fine, but i didn’t get it as “best of florence” - in fact, the pizza at other non-pizza places tasted almost as good - i thought simbiosi was a bit better. had some shrimp cooked on the grill and loved it. downstairs, tried some of the culatello which reminded me a lot of jamon iberico, and sbriciolona, a local salami unique to tuscan region - tasted better than regular salami, which i’m not a fan of. i hadn’t had buffalo mozzarella before, and loved it.
had a zillion types of gelato. agree with the general tip of “look for places with metal containers” because those were all good. the best (creamiest) we had was at a place poorly-named “time for gelato”. other standouts were my sugar, il re de gelato, la strega nocciola (best flavor I had here; cinammon and white chocolate), carabe, grom (when we visited venice) also had good granita, which was NOT the case at venchi. le botteghe di leonardo wasn’t as creamy but the fruits were more prominent.
sandwiches - sandwichic was not too far from us. three people there, the main person at the register was super friendly to all, fluent in at least three languages (french/italian/english), and wonderful sandwich selections along with schiacciata bread no more than 5 euro a sandwich and quite filling.
wasn’t knocked out by i fratellini. we went there on a sunday, i think (no line) and my guess is that lots of the accolades are because it’s ok food near the duomo. definitely wouldn’t go out of my way for it.
i went to la menagere and saw their menu. the hostess told me it was “contemporary tuscan” and i saw the menu which rang true to how many “good” restaurants have been serving / plating things here (u.s.) in cities / metropolitan areas. i suspect that since they are in an area which is known for traditional pasta / meat dishes, dishes with smaller amounts of food might encounter resistance.
had my pastries at vecchio forno and across the street. 1 euro for fruit filled croissant!
and we made it across to oltrarno for the farmer’s market on sunday, but too early to stay for pizza/gelato or anything else.
thanks again for feedback.