Italy’s culinary experts’ guide to eating in Florence

Italy’s culinary experts’ guide to eating in Florence

Italy’s top Michelin Chefs guide us on where to eat in Tuscany’s gourmet city.

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Tue 27 Sep 2016 8:02 AM

Italian chefs understand the seasons; quarterly celebrations of land, life and fare that leave the country transformed. Colours mature, territories rejoice and most importantly flavours develop. In Tuscany, as autumn sets in, the sky turns grey and the leaves golden, the olive harvest finally begins along with an abundance of ingredients that would make any chef salivate at the sight. Here is an opportune moment for any culinary fanatic in the region to hunt for the finest produce and suppliers – yet only a handful of chefs have truly mastered this art. Turning to Gourmet Florence where these culinary masters have resided for centuries amongst some of the greatest artists, we find a city that has recently seen a resurgence of contemporary culinary hotspots. In a city famed for its centuries-old trattorie, strung with cured ham legs, there is a unique melange of the traditional and the new, adding to the war on our waistlines. To make sense of this culinary movement, we turned to Italy’s top Michelin Chefs to guide us on where to eat in Tuscany’s gourmet city.

Chef Igles Corelli | Ph. Stefano Scatà
Chef Igles Corelli | Ph. Stefano Scatà

Igles Corelli, who’s relaunched his march for the culinary crown in Tuscany at his 1 Michelin Star restaurant (Ristorante Atman, Pistoia) stops in at Florence’s Borgo San Jacopo on his days off,  where he gets to see his friend and chef Peter Brunel. “This is a special place for me to relax and enjoy the world I love. Food. In an environment that both respects the traditions but gives freedom of expression.” Since 2011 Peter Brunel has floated between tradition and innovation at his restaurant by the river Arno. His impressive imagination on the plate has earned him a Michelin Star and recognition as an exciting chef for the future. Igles notes that a dish to look out for in Florence is the Sorana beans soup, a unique variety of white beans grown only in Sorana along the Pescia river.

Chef Davide Oldani | Ph. Francesca Brambilla
Chef Davide Oldani | Ph. Francesca Brambilla

Moving outside of Tuscany, famed chef Davide Oldani of 1 Michelin Star restaurant D’O in Milan suggests another fine example of traditional Florentine food, reimagined. “I love the sights, sounds and smells of Florence. The street food (especially trippa from the van in the market)…It’s an incredible place, but I turn off the beaten track before the Ponte Vecchio and enjoy lunch at Ora d’Aria by Chef Marco Stabile.”

Chef Marco Stabile | Ph. Stefano Scatà
Chef Marco Stabile | Ph. Stefano Scatà

Marco Stabile, an established culinary figure in Florence thanks to his 1 Michelin Star Ora d’Aria, gives us insight into what the locals try to keep to themselves. His tastes range from the best sandwich at INO by Chef and owner Alessandro Frassica, who “chooses high quality ingredients in really creative ways,” to the best ice cream in town, Carapina, from Simone Bonini: “I cannot avoid this place,” he says. Marco suggests the best restaurant for classic Florentine cuisine is Enoteca Pinchiorri, where Annie Féolde, Italo Bassi and Riccardo Monco have expertly perfected the art of dining and Italian cuisine. The elegant spot has held 3 Michelin stars since 1993. Stabile also swears by the Florentine-typical Buca dell’Orafo: “Giordano the owner really understands what is happening with the dining scene in Florence. He embraces new ideas whilst respecting tradition in the original way, this combination is perfect for the city.” And for something very new and exciting, Marco suggests visiting Essenziale by Chef and Owner Simone Cipriani, as well as La Leggenda dei Frati by Chef and owner Filippo Saporito: “All I will say is watch out for these guys and see for yourself.”

Antonello Sardi, of La Bottega del Buon Caffè

Chef Antonello Sardi of La Bottega del Buon Caffè 

Cristiano Tomei, another famed chef whose 1 Michelin Star restaurant in Lucca, L’Imbuto, continues to push the culinary boundaries of Tuscan cuisine in a playful way, explains that Florence must also be enjoyed for its tradition. “It’s a good idea to balance the local trattorie with the more innovative restaurants. You need to see both to understand and appreciate what they are doing or have done.” Chef Tomei recommends lunch in the central market. “Here for me it is like a light tasting menu, a little pecorino from Paenza, a little ham from Casentino, a glass of wine on the way out.”

Suggestions

1. Ristorante Atman – at Villa Rospigliosi, via Borghetto 1, Spicchio, Lamporecchio (PT)

2. Borgo San Jacopo – borgo S. Jacopo, Florence

3. D’O – piazza della Chiesa 14, San Pietro all’Olmo, Cornaredo (MI)

4. Ora d’Aria – via dei Georgofili 11r, Florence 

5. INO – via dei Georgofili 11r, Florence

6. Carapina – via Lambertesca 18r, Florence

7. Enoteca Pinchiorri – via Ghibellina 87, Florence

8. La Bottega del Buon Caffè  – lungarno Benvenuto Cellini, 69/r, Florence

9. Meo Modo, Borgo Santo Pietro, Borgo Santo Pietro, 110, Loc. Palazzetto, Chiusdino (SI) 

10. Il Palagio, Four Seasons Florence, borgo Pinti, 99, Florence

11. Buca dell’orafo – via dei Girolami 28, Florence

12. Essenziale – piazza di Cestello 3, Florence

13. La Leggenda dei Frati – costa S. Giorgio 6a, Florence

14. L’Imbuto – via della Fratta 36, Lucca

Get more tips from top Italian culinary influencers on Great Italian Chefs.

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