Italy, Florence

I spent a week in Italy last month, mostly Florence. Just wanted to highlight a few good experiences.

Trattoria La Casalinga
Since this place was just around the corner of our airbnb, we spent quite a lot of time here. Wonderful, local, traditional restaurant. Wine (Chianti) was incredibly cheap (5 euro per mezzo litro), pasta around 8-10 euro and mains ranging from 10-20 euro. Great food, had amongst others trippa alla fiorentina, a salad of raw artichokes, and salted cod with beans.

Il Santo Bevitore
Probably the best place I visited here this trip. Great place frequented by locals mostly. I was really impressed by their fish soup! Not something I would have expected in Florence.

Ristorante Oliviero 1962
Chose this place for bistecca fiorentina. Not sure if this place is below par, though it has great reviews, but the steak was a little underwhelming compared to what I had before traveling around Italy.

Wanted to go to Sostanza but it was fully booked for the week. Alla vecchia Bettola was also fully booked, a shame because it looked like an excellent place! We ended up eating across the street in their deli shop. Which was also nice.

  1. Fish soup
    2-5 La Casalinga
  2. Bistecca fiorentina



Thanks for sharing! It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve traveled

I couldn’t help but smile at the way the waiter was wearing his mask!

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I really miss Trat. La Casalinga, a place we’ve prioritized going to every time we’ve been in Florence. Unfortunately, we’ve never taken pictures there. But, here’s a picture of our pea soup from the last time we were at Il Santo Bevitore (I cant believe its been 8 years since we’ve been there). I think Jen Kalb had recommended it on CH:

Glad you had a nice trip. One of these days we’ll go back. Until then, please post more pictures so we can live vicariously.


Thanks for this Damiano! Reminded me that I need to try the new-ish NY version of Florence’s All’antico Vinaio. I know it’s not there, but curious if anyone has tried it? Could it possibly be as good as the Florence version? I have such happy memories of falling out of the Uffizi starving, waiting on an interminable line, and finally biting into one of those fresh, delicious focaccia sandwiches. Anybody from here tried the Manhattan version?

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Cibreo remains etched in our hearts. Of many memorable meals, the most memorable was a dinner the night my girlfriend arrived in Florence. Tired and hungry but anxious for something light, the waiter had a suggestion. It was porcini season. They brought a foil packet filled with garlic studded roasted porcini. The waiter pierced the foil and poured baked cannellini beans in olive oil over the porcini. Heaven, and it may have had something to do with my girlfriend becoming my fiancé then spouse. Celebrating 22 years in two weeks.

Chef Picchi made an appearance in the CNN series with Stanley Tucci.


thank you thank you! its great to see these pictures and think about dining in Italy once again In July…(but not in Tuscany). @SteveR I did not recommend Il Santo Bevitore but it has certainly been recommended in the past!

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My aging memory & high regard for your Italy recommendations must’ve conspired. :slightly_smiling_face:

Tuscany is usually not my first choice either, especially when it comes to sampling food. I just wanted to grasp the opportunity to visit the Uffizi before the crowds would be back post covid-restrictions. So, this wasn’t really a foodie trip.

I did visit Bologna for two days, having one dinner at someone’s home and once an unremarkable dinner. We did not make any reservations beforehand and it became impossible to find good spots, the city was extremely busy. Also with people queing for the handmade pasta shops, and basically every terrace full on a Sunday.

Probably back in Italy in the summer. This was the first time with me being able to speak and understand Italian, as I’ve been learning the language for over two years now. It does make a difference, feel much more comfortable.

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you are right about the Uffizi; the last times we were in Florence we did not go to into the Duomo because of the lines and crowds. So glad you had the chance to visit now.

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JenKalb, I am glad to see you over here.

Looks like a spring 23 trip is in the works. We’ll hopefully touch base at old favorites Cibreo, Enoteca Pinchiorri, Enoteca Pitti Gola, Osteria Cinghiale Bianco. Thinking of adding the new restaurant from the owners of Enoteca Pitti. Other recs?


Argh. Just seeing on the inter webs that Osteria Cinghiale Bianco was featured on Stanley Tucci’s CNN series. Hope they survive the ensuing onslaught.

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For Pete’s sake, they were overrun by tourists 25 years and more ago, they will survive.
BTW my only meal there (25 years ago) was ok but not stellar - I was also put off by the fact that my pasta with truffles had fewer and less attractive truffles than the same pasta served to an apparent local. It will be great to hear how your trip goes.

Just came across this list yesterday, which includes a few places mentioned above.

And here an older list for inspiration.

Thanks for these. We place a good deal of trust in CNT. I’m curious about Cantinetta Antinori - I’ve read unflattering reviews elsewhere, but I do love their wines. Haven’t been to Mercato Centrale since the makeover. Last time I stayed in the vicinity I rented an apartment for a week and shopped the bakers, green grocers and cheese mongers there. The new second floor sounds fabulous.

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We’ve been seeing Florence a bit through the eyes of our 19-year-old daugther, who has been here for a full month prior to our arrival. Though I was dubious, we greatly enjoyed lining up for sandwiches at All’Antico Vinaio one afternoon. CNT suggested Essenziale, which provided a fabulous light lunch one afternoon. An unusual space (drawers for each diner with silverware) and one of the better values we’ve encountered thus far. First course of superb anchovy on toasted brioche with a sliver of preserved lemon was just so. Excellent bistecca Fiorentina at Terraza 45 in Fiesole, near our daugthers home base for the month. We hit the original Cibreo Cafe for dinner one evening and will go to the new one (Helvetia and Bristol) in a couple days, wrappng up our visit with a return to Enoteca Pinchiori 24 years later. One superb dish at Cibreo was a contorni of spring peas. The secret ingredient turned out to be proscuitto – of course. One lunch and one dinner so far at Bar Enoteca Pitti Gola – a lovely wine bar where they avoid trophy wines and celebrate enigmantic and idiosyncratic local wines (read - inexpensive). Their pasta with shaved truffles has become one of our staples.


Well, we encountered a clunker, and in the most unexpected place, Picchi’s Cibrèo Caffè Helvetia & Bristol. We’ve had many memorable meals at the Ristorante, Trattoria, and original Cibrèo Caffè , so our expectations were high. The room is a departure, ultra modern with low red banquets and dramatic lighting, a fashionable and popular bar to one side of the dining room. The service was abysmal, not just unattentive but also unfamiliar with the menu.

Case in point, I ordered the Fassona, described as filet of beef “served with the Famous “Picchi’s Elegant Sauce” with Carrot and Mustard”. It arrived without sauce. When I inquired, the waiter informed me I had not requested a sauce. He eventually returned some time later with a bright green sauce – likely the chimichurri, certainly looking nothing like a carrot and mustard sauce. Again puzzled I inquired again, and sometime later the advertised sauce arrived. If the dish is described as being served with a sauce, why would I have to specifically request the sauce? And why should anyone be in the position of describing the menu wording to the waiter?

We also experinced long unattended stretches, with empty plates and glasses piling up, requests for more water ignored. That said the food was overall very good, a lively beef tartar with quail egg (a very generous portion), excellent sous vide artichoke heart, and the afore-mentioned Fassona quite good (eventually). A pasta described as “stollen” with truffles was perhaps more aptly named – it seems someone has stolen the truffles. A guinea hen served two ways was generous and rich. The catch of the day described as sea bass was returned after a few bites by my BIL, who found it “fishy” and oddly textured. A shared plate of Italian cheeses ranging from a subtle creamy blue (not Gorgonzola) through Pecorino stangionata and an aged gran padana was well turned out.

Can’t say we’ll be back - there are too many great options in Florence, including the other Cibrèo outposts.


Our daughter also spent a month there studying last summer. When we came prior to her staying, we had our compulsory lunch at Da Ruggero, a wonderful Bistecca at Parione, among othe goodies. Our favorite new find was a newish, more contemporary spot called Nugolo. It was briefly featured on Tucci’s show (not the reason we went)

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We ran out of time to try more new places, I’ll save these for next trip. We closed out the week with dinner at Enoteca Pinchiorri, my last visit was 25 years ago. Signore Pinchiorri was there to great us and he claimed to remember me. Highly doubtful but sweet. We opted for a la carte, ostensibly 4 courses but there were so many amuses, palate cleansers, pre-deserts, and mignardises, count was well north of 10 courses. We were a party of 5 and we were ushered into a private dining room with a huge round table, groaning under the weight of 4 or 5 flower arrangements and a half-dozen candles. The table was large enough and the arrangements low enough they didn’t interfere and softened the room a bit. Several argue paintings ranged from something reminiscent of a Renoir portrait to a modern interpretation of the Florence skyline. As the candles were lit, they proffered the water menu. About 6 pages of artisinal still and sparkling waters spanning the globe. I’m fond of Pelligrino and Aqua Panna, but those might have seemed pedestrian. My BIL settled on Fiji. Exotic I. A certain sense, but ubiquitous.

The first amuse was a single chip, I believe made from chickpea, with streaks of salt and pepper making them look like little flags. Each chip came on a dedicated stainless steel carrier with a slot to hold the chip upright. The menus arrived next, and the wine list didn’t arrive until after we ordered our meals. Probably 4 inches thick, it is as impressive a collection as I’ve ever seen. Surprisingly, though, the breadth and depth of Italian wines wasn’t noticeably greater than the coverage of a France or Spain.

About to lose my internet connection on descent into Boston…will continue this thread later.