Breakfast, any way you like it

Jack Land
February 11, 2010

During your semester abroad, you will likely come to miss one thing over all others: breakfast. Italian breakfast staples, the cornetto and cappuccino (which you thought you liked) will quickly become your worst nightmare. If Italians are famous for long meals at the table-they have never given up on their hour-long lunches, after all-it makes the speed with which they consume their breakfast all the more remarkable. Enter bar, order, pay, eat and drink (not always in this order), thanks and see you later. That's breakfast, Italian style.

 

If you think this is only a big-city phenomenon, about the need to rush, think again. Frequent any bar, in any little town, and the story is the same: eat and run. Still need confirmation? Taking a seat in any centrally located café will cost you extra-proof that only a tourist would do it.

 

So why the quick morning meal? As with most Italian gastronomic questions, we need to look no further than Pellegrino Artusi and his culinary bible, La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiare bene (‘Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well'), first published in 1891. When contemplating breakfast, he advises upon waking in the morning to ‘consider what is most suitable for your stomach. If it is not entirely free from food, restrict yourself to a cup of black coffee.'

 

While it might be best to follow Artusi's advice most days, there are times when we just have to have something more substantial to get our day started right-and that's not a cornetto. Thankfully, the kind restaurateurs of Florence have recognized the straniero's need and provided accordingly.

 

The first in town was The Diner, whose menu reads like the dictionary definition of American breakfast: eggs and bacon, hash browns, French toast, hamburger, fries, vanilla coke, muffins and pancakes. This is the place where the truly homesick gather-long-time expats included-for breakfast no matter the time of day.

 

Closer to the train station we find Caffè Deluxeé. Its young and informal atmosphere is a great place to sit comfortably with your Eggs Benedict while watching the locals pop in and out for their quick colazione. It is a café for everyone, at least until Saturday, when the brunch crowd takes over and ‘quick' is but a distant memory. You'll feel perfectly at home lingering over your coffee and newspaper.

 

Then there are the places you would never expect to serve breakfast, but thanks to an American addition to the family, the menu changes. Take the Accademia Restaurant, which now offers a full American breakfast. Or the places where Americans turn their homegrown specialties into a family business, like Mama's Bakery in the Oltrarno. This is a great spot; the service is friendly and you can choose between sitting in the cozy inside area or the luminous outside loggia. Serve yourself real American coffee and order a toasted bagel with cream cheese or a quiche with fresh, seasonal ingredients.

 

Looking for Sunday brunch? Other than The Diner and Caffè Deluxeé, we can't forget the most popular student spot in town, Angels, which offers buffet and main courses starting at 10 euro. Now that brunch is becoming trendier for Florentines as well, there are a couple of places that offer a less-American style but seriously tasty option. Head to Cuculia in the Oltrarno, where 10 euro gets you a heaping plate of samples of various dishes and a piece of homemade cake. Another unique choice is Sushinami, whose large variety of fresh and tasty sushi to eat in or take away is a great alternative to standard brunch fare. Don't let the high price of other sushi places keep you away; compared to the others, Sushinami is actually quite inexpensive.

 

Are you vegetarian or vegan? Try brunch at Brac Bookstore. Eggs, omelettes, French toast and pancakes accompanied by jams and honey are the order of the day. Brac's brunch is a surprise for most people, especially those who think eating vegetarian means giving up flavor. Oddly enough, although it's a bookstore, it is the only place on my list where you can't find The Florentine. Someone should explain the rules of being Ango-friendly in Florence!

 

 

Breakfast  in  Florence

 

PIAZZA SIGNORIA

 

The Diner

Via dell'Acqua 2

055/290748

Daily, 8am-10:30pm

www.theflorencediner.com

 

Angels Restaurant and Cocktail Bar

Sunday brunch from noon to 3:00pm

Via del Proconsolo 29/31r

Information and booking, call Anna at 328/7290848

 

 

SANTA CROCE

 

Brac Bookshop, Caffè and Kitchen

Via dei Vagellai 18r

055/0944877

Daily, 11am-10pm

www.libreriabrac.net

 

Sushinami

via Matteo Palmieri 9

334/2967032

Daily, 11:30am-2:30pm; 6-11pm

www.sushinami.it

 

 

SAN MARCO/PIAZZA INDIPENDENZA

 

Caffè Deluxeé

Piazza Indipendenza

(corner via XXVII Aprile)

055/485749

Breakfast: daily, 8am-noon

Brunch: Saturday 11:30am-4pm

www.cafedeluxee.com

 

Accademia Restaurant

Piazza San Marco 7r

055 217343

Breakfast:  Monday-Saturday, 8-11am

www.ristoranteaccademia.it

 

 

OLTRARNO

 

Mama's Bakery

Via della Chiesa, 34/r

055/219214

Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm

Saturday, 9am-3pm

(Closed Sunday)

www.mamasbakery.it

 

Cuculia Bookshop, Caffè and Kitchen

Via dei Serragli 3r

055/2776205

Brunch: Saturday and Sunday,

noon-3pm

 

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