Dine like the Medici: 5 incredible meals to experience in Florence

Art and food are two of the main draws for Florence visitors, and after a day exploring the former, you’ll need plenty of the latter. Should you wish to dine like the Medici, this list highlights five sumptuous dinners not to be missed while in the Tuscan capital, a slice of La Dolce Vita guaranteed with every one.

Caprese

Acqua Al 2

A trip to Florence is not complete without a visit to Acqua Al 2, home of the Blueberry Steak. The combination strikes people as unusual, as does the menu’s other fruit-inspired meat dishes, but the meal is so delicious, so perfectly balanced, you have to wonder how no one ever thought of it before. Be sure to preface your steak with the pasta sampler. The kitchen staff will serve three (generous) samples of what they think are the best tasting pastas that night, meaning you are almost guaranteed not to repeat, though everything is so well crafted, that wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen.

Buca Mario

“Buca” in Italian refers to a basement level bar or restaurant, and Buca Mario is one of Florence’s finest. As you step down into the restaurant (watch your head), you will be greeted not by a dim, quiet cavern, but a subterranean world of bright light and bustling energy.

Here try a spectacular Ribollita, the traditional Tuscan vegetable soup that incorporates crusty bread right into the base. The real draw, though, is the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine Steak), a 2.5+ pound piece of Chianina beef served between medium and rare. Even if that Tuscan specialty holds no appeal for you, Buca Mario will still consider you family: everyone receives a free apron on the way out.

Pandemonio 

The name translates to pandemonium, but within the stucco walls of this Bellosguardo area establishment, there is only the excitement that comes from being surrounded by good food and a loving staff. The menu, all seasonally based, is prepared by “Mamma”, who comes to each individual table to advise you on your choices. Try another delicious example of the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, as well as the Tuscan specialty soup Pappa al Pomodoro, and whatever you do, save room for one of the best cheesecakes you will ever taste, Mamma’s own recipe.

Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori

Reservations are key here, not only because of popularity, but because the trattoria seats only a handful of people at a time. The small size is ultimately a benefit, providing an intimate atmosphere and the chance to talk with the owners, a husband and wife duo that prepares everything from scratch. They write the menu by hand each day, deciding what’s fresh in the markets and taking into account what they feel like preparing, “tutto quello che vogliamo.” With strong luck, the pappardelle covered in a rich wild boar sauce will be in their thoughts the night of your visit, but whatever their decision, you will be lucky.

Pappardelle

Trattoria 13 Gobbi

Trattoria 13 Gobbi is a maze of cozily lit rooms, each evoking a different aspect of Tuscany. The caprese salad is an excellent starter: the house made buffalo mozzerella will melt in your mouth, and the tomatoes are crisp and fresh. There are many delectable dishes to choose from at 13 Gobbi, including a pappardelle with boar sauce to rival that of Vini e Vecchi Sapori, but the one item that keeps patrons returning again and again is the penne pomodoro. Served in a steaming glass bowl, the penne is covered in marinara blended with spices and clumps of mozzerella. Simple presentation, stunning effect.

Trattoria 13 Gobbi

So enchanted were we with the dish that we asked our waiter for the recipe, which he gladly wrote it down on a napkin. He warned us, however, that he’d been an employee of 13 Gobbi for three years and had attempted to make it several Sundays a month. Not once was he successful in recreating the magic. All the more reason to come back!

Bonus: for dessert on the town, try Gelateria dei Neri

This small shop serves a wide variety of absolutely delicious gelato. For the fruit lovers, there are flavors like strawberry, melon, and chocolate orange, and for those like myself who hunger for decadence, the tiramisu and Nutella will more than satisfy.

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