Italy: Restaurant Reviews

firenze-1 Hey guys! How are you? I'm continuing my little series on Italy: the eats today and sharing a full breakdown of all the Florence restaurants we tried! In total, we ate at more than 10 places and I must say: I'm proud of us! We really dove into the culture and tried our best to assimilate to the Italian way of eating, which, I'll admit, wasn't that hard being that they eat several courses, love red wine, and usually cap dinner with gelato! :) (Easy peasy) There wasn't a single bad meal in Florence, but I will say, some restaurants were better than others. That goes for food, service, and value!

Hostaria il Desco:

  • Food: *****
  • Service: *****
  • Value: *****

Five stars across the board - this was my very favorite restaurant! I read about it on Girl in Florence - a blog I stalked in the weeks leading up to our trip - and hunted it down our second day for lunch. It was actually really close by our hotel, but we walked right past it the first time!  When we found it, we had a truly an enjoyable experience eating there! The staff didn't speak English but the menu had English translations (so important!) and, the owner/woman who sat us, easily understood our English. The value was especially great - at lunch, vino was just one euro, which paled in comparison the hotel price of 5 euros and average dinner price of 7-9 euros!

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Try: The blue cheese and pear gnocchi -- OMG! Talk about delicious! As you can see from the picture below, it was more of a sauce than blue cheese and pear chunks. It was divine! For lighter fare, try the chicken special at lunch (shown on the far right). The potatoes are cooked in olive oil (and rosemary, I think?) and are delicious! For dinner, try the ribollita (photo of that in my last post).

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Acqua al 2:

  • Food: ***
  • Service: ***
  • Value: ***

There's actually an Acqua al 2 in DC and one of my coworkers always raves about it. When I noticed they had one in Florence, I added to my list of places to try. Unfortunately, we didn't love it -- it was very pricey and the service was just so-so. We got the salad sampler, pasta sampler, and the blueberry and balsamic steaks... While the food was good, it wasn't as good as some of the other pastas and steaks we'd had in Florence. The blueberry steak was tasty and very unique, though and I enjoyed it a lot.

One thing that may have contributed to our experience -- the menu didn't have English translations, which makes ordering SO difficult!

Try: The blueberry steak or balsamic steak - both were delicious!

Photos of Acqua Al 2, Florence This photo of Acqua Al 2 is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Il Grillo:

  • Food: ****
  • Service: ****
  • Value: ****

Three words: best. pizza. ever.

We totally stumbled upon this place! We were running short on time to grab lunch because we got a little turned around walking, and ended up spending way too much time shopping at Roberta's, a local leather store. Once we made our purchases, we asked the sales associate where a good pizza place was, and he walked us down the street to Il Grino, exclaiming, "they have the best pizza in all of Florence!"

We were starving and ordered quickly - we even got a coca cola! I wasn't sure I was in the mood for fresh tomatoes and mozzarella (actually, the pizza Aaron ordered sounded much better), but, when it arrived: let me tell you, I've never tasted anything so delicious!

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Try: This tomato, mozzarella, oregno pizza. YOU WILL LOVE IT!

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Trattoria 4 Leoni:

  • Food: ****
  • Service: ****
  • Value: ***

Three more words: best. lasagna. ever.

A friend from Instagram recommended this place and I'm so glad we had a chance to try it! I was craving salad when we arrived for lunch and again, the menu wasn't in English (boo!). But, I could easily spot the salad section and the Italian word for avocado (it's avocado!). The salad was AMAZING. It was served with chunks of swiss cheese and avocado, and topped with a pesto sauce. With olive oil drizzled on top, it was perfection!!!!

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For my entree, I ordered a vegetarian lasanga -- the waiter was extremely patient in helping us translate items on the menu!

The lasagna was AMAZING!! It was so cheesy and gooey and delicious! I had a hard time not eating the ENTIRE thing! Aaron had the filet (which was pretty big!) and a side of pasta with bolognese (meat) sauce -- he loved it! This place was a little pricey, but definitely worth checking out.

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If you go: Make a reservation, especially if you plan to go for dinner -- we were turned away for not having one! We returned a few days later for lunch and got a table no problem!

MaMMaMia:

  • Food: ****
  • Service: ****
  • Value: ***

We were starving one night by the time we decided on this place... it was close by our hotel and we'd heard the pizza was pretty good! As a starter, we shared a cheese, grape, and honey platter, which was delicious. (I blogged a little about that here.) Then I had pizza and Aaron had raviolli. (I only ate half the pizza - I had no idea it was so massive!)

I can't say anything really wowed us about this place, but it wasn't bad by any means. The pizza was just, different... the crust was very thin and crispy, and I prefer a softer crust. (The pizza I mentioned earlier had a much softer crust.)

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Casa del Vin Santo:

  • Food: ****
  • Service: **
  • Value: ****

Another pizza place!! At Casa del Vin Santo we shared a pizza and salad and both were really good. The pizza, I have to say, was better than the pizza at MaMMaMia, if not just because the crust was softer. However, one pizza wasn't enough to sustain us both! We saw a lot of other people eating full pizzas themselves, but we thought it'd be too much. Eventually, though, we learned and at Il Grillo, each got our own. (The crust is so thin it's not as filling as American pizza!)

The salad we shared was delicious -- again, especially with extra virgin olive oil poured on top, and it was a very good size salad! (Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of this salad!)

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Sadly, the service at this place was very poor. It seemed like all the tables around us were getting their orders -- double orders of calzones, pizzas, etc., -- and we still waiting around for our one pizza to come out. When I asked about it, the waitress seemed a little annoyed at my persistence. In the future, we'll get our food to go from this place.

Moye:

  • Food: *****
  • Service: ****
  • Value: *****

This place was a hidden gem and the bright white modern decor was a delight for my eyes! It was a welcome change from the old world, darker restaurants we'd been to in Florence.

Photos of Moye', Florence This photo of Moye' is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Try: The "troccoli cacao e pepe," which is a creamy and delicious spaghetti with white sauce or the "orecchiette con datterino al basilico e cacioricotta," which was shell pasta with red sauce - also very good!

For a second course, we shared the meat rolls or "Le bimbette pugliesi" which were delicious! They were served with zucchini and potatoes that all tasted fresh and delicious. If we hadn't of discovered this place so late in the week, we would have definitely gone back!

Photos of Moye', Florence This photo of Moye' is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Il Cantastorie:

  • Food: *****
  • Service: *****
  • Value: ?

Our farewell dinner was probably the best overall - it was several courses and I couldn't turn away a single one! We had duck pattee (not pictured but not pretty anyway - looks a little like dog food, but it tastes good!), pasta with wild boar sauce, pork and potatoes, florentine steak and a dessert of our choice! All of which was served with a delicious red wine. We even had a shot of grappa after dinner!

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For dessert, Aaron had the caramel pudding and I had the tiramsu. Others in our group raved about the traditional Tuscan dessert of biscotti in dessert wine, which looked very good. We went home so full and delighted after this meal!

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I don't know the value because it was courtesy of our group leaders - thank you guys!!

Osteria del Porcellino:

  • Food: *****
  • Service: *****
  • Value: *****

Probably our favorite dinner spot in Florence, we ate here twice we liked it so much!

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Everything was amazing! The first night I had the potato gnocchi with sausaage and truffle sauce -- OMG, try not inhaling this dish, it's so delicious! I seriously had to pace myself. And Aaron got the balsamic filet.

On our second visit, I got the veal chop with creamed artichokes and white wine sauce -- so good -- and Aaron got the sea bass fillet with tomatoes, capers, lemon and oregano, which was good, but he got a few bones and didn't like that. For dessert, I got the tiramsu and he got the chocolate pear cake - both were so good! I left here feeling beyond satisfied!

Try: The "gnocchi di patate alla norcina," which is a potato gnocchi in a sausage and truffle sauce, the beef filet with balsamic vinegar sauce, the chocolate pear cake, and the tiramisu (OMG!! Creamier than any tiramisu I've ever had!).

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As for the coffee, gelato, & other treats:

Caffe La Posta:

I joked with Aaron this was my favorite coffee shop in Florence, but really, I just like coffee shops -- of any kind! This place was cute though and while I didn't have any food there, the espresso and the caffe latte I tried fromt here was great! I also bought some dark chocolate by the register which I thoroughly enjoyed! (It seemed like a very popular spot for smokers as they had two outdoor seating areas that were always full!)

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Galetaria Venchi Firenze:

Venchi is a company that has been producing gourmet Italian chocolate since 1878, and lucky for us, there was a geletaria venchi down the street from our hotel! #win! I tried the hot chocolate one night and it. was. amazing. It was thick, dark chocolate -- not anything like the watered down hot chocolate you get in the U.S.

There's a venchi chocolate shop or galeteria near wherever you are in Florence, go!

Photos of Gelateria Venchi Firenze, Florence This photo of Gelateria Venchi Firenze is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Random waffle stands are everywhere; find one:

  • Food: *****
  • Service: *****
  • Value: *****

I can't forget to mention this darling waffle stand. We had been walking around all morning when I saw it, stopped and exclaimed to Aaron, "I want one!" I asked the guy working there to fix me up the regular and he proceeded to layer nutella and gelato onto a steaming hot waffle! In hindsight, I would have asked to leave off the top waffle so that I could have enjoyed the gelato (it melted), but it was delicious nonetheless!

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You'll see these waffle stands everywhere! Definitely worth a try!

So, there you have it! All the places we ate in Florence! Can you tell we enjoyed ourselves? We certainly enjoyed the food! One day, when we go back, I plan to revisit Hostaria il Desco, Il GrilloMoye and Osteria del Porcellino - my favorite spots!

I'm sure there are plenty of places we didn't try, though! This city is known for it's food and everyone will tell you - you really can't go wrong no matter where you eat! Just be prepared to pay for water, and relax, it's not the fast food you'll find in America! Enjoy it! Savor it! Really live it up! After all, I'm missing it already!

Have you ever been to Florence or Italy?

Did you have a favorite restaurant?