Florence might not be Naples, but the city’s pizza scene has taken off in recent times, especially in terms of quality and creativity. From gourmet toppings to steamed dough bases, tomato-less bianche options and preferred family spots for a fun Friday night, here are some of our favourite pizza places in Florence.
South of the river
Let’s start in the heart of Santo Spirito, where Florentines and tourists alike flock at the end of the day to unwind over a drink. It comes as no surprise that Borgo Antico’s open-air terrace is always packed to the gills, from summer to winter (piazza Santo Spirito 6/R / 055 210437). Everyone will find something to suit their taste on this trattoria’s menu, stuffed with tasty, meticulously prepared dishes. The pizza is Tuscan in style, well-cooked with classic toppings laid on thick.
This Florentine pizzeria could not be better hidden, standing as it does in the silent and suspiciously named via Maffia. But once inside, you’ll see how far back O’ Munaciello (via Maffia 31r / 055 287198) extends and a thrill will tingle down your spine at the dark Neapolitan magic of the place. An effigy of the Madonna hangs over the diners, garlic and peperoncini tumble down the walls, and the tablecloths are divided into a hundred little squares, each sporting an image from the Commedia dell’Arte, with accompanying definitions both in Neapolitan and, thankfully, Italian. The pizza takes no prisoners, especially those foolhardy enough to go for the stuffed crust. The onus is often on the customer to carve up a huge ball of mozzarella and spread it as they please over the other toppings. Open only for dinner.
We head about a hundred yards east to piazza della Passera, where we find what is surely one of Florence’s tiniest, homeliest restaurants, Lo Sprone, in one of its most perilously narrow streets. Here, the owner/chef prepares meals in his little kitchenette behind the till, while you work your way through a carafe of the house red or white. This cosy atmosphere extends across the road to Pizzeria Lo Sprone (via dei Sapiti 1R / 336 677 251), where you can chew on pizza that is sure to make your troubles melt away.
A little further on and we come to Palazzo Tempi (via de’ Bardi 33-37R / 055 2466949), which started life in 1982 as the popular Pit-Stop in suburban piazza Dalmazia. A few years ago, the restaurant owners made their move to the present-day iconic setting in the triangular piazza Santa Maria Soprarno, with riverside views overlooking the Uffizi. Pull up a contemporary chair in the spacious and sumptuous interior, or book your spot on the shaded terrace, styled Terrazza Soprarno. The Palazzo is open daily for lunch and dinner. Aim for the Pizza Bella Napoli topped with buffalo mozzarella, sun-ripened tomatoes, olives and capers in a celebration of the Italian summer.
The historic centre
Even though we all prefer to sit outside in summer, settling down at the counter in La Bussola remains an essential event for many Florentines (via Porta Rossa 58R / 055 293376). This historic venue has proved able to reinvent itself time and again, always offering the last word in quality. Classic pizzas emerge from the brick oven, including some defiantly Tuscan flavours—just think of the bestselling pear, honey, walnut and pecorino!
Piazza della Repubblica rubs shoulders with a Neapolitan-themed restaurant bearing the name of none other than Sophia Loren, one of the defining icons of Italian culture worldwide. Sophia Loren Original Italian Food (via dei Brunelleschi 11 / 055 4934400) vaunts a concise, exciting menu designed by top chefs and the quality/price ratio is spot on. Neapolitan-style pizzas come with the approval of Francesco Martucci, whose Casertan restaurant I Masanielli won the best pizzaiolo in Italy 2020 award. It’s clear that we’re among the greats here. A touch of glamour and glitter, without blowing a hole in your pocket. Start with an antipasto: they’re all delicious.
Berberè’s pizza menu has always read like a manifesto for a more natural world: sourdough, seasonal ingredients, organic, stone-ground, semi-wholewheat flours. Crunchy and creative, these pizzas come pre-cut into eight pieces, the better to encourage sharing and conviviality. Their two restaurants in Florence, one in San Frediano (piazza de’ Nerli 1 / 055 2382946) and Santa Croce (via de’ Benci 7 / 055 3994589), both have a young, informal, laid-back vibe.
Where people actually live
At Giotto, Marco Manzi takes us up the Mount Olympus of traditional Neapolitan pizza (via Veracini 21 / 055 332332). It’s a truly gastronomic experience, from the dough making to the superb quality of the ingredients. Marco’s pizzas are like an artist’s palette of tastes and smells; the crust is tremendously puffy, yet so light. Afterwards, you’ll almost certainly have room for the sinful chocolatey decadence of the Torta delle Sette Veli (Cake of the Seven Veils). Marco also helms another pizzeria in the city centre, Hortus by Zibibbo (via delle Seggiole 14 / 055 2466462).
Personality and creativity are the hallmarks of one of Florence’s most beloved pizzerias. Giovanni Santarpia’s smile is as genuine as his pizza, the result of years spent studying flour and extended rising techniques. An informal, lively, outdoor ambience deserves a visit (via Senese 155R / 055 3998245); in fact the only formality at Santarpia is the booking, which is required.
“At Largo 9,” (piazza Largo Pietro Annigoni 9c / 055 245829), says the website, “you will learn what it means to say ‘I love pizza’. It means everything from the perfect yeast to the creation of new, enticing toppings, to the steam-cooking that we use [yes, that’s right], as inspired by Asian bread-making techniques. Curiosity and experimentation are the guiding principles behind Largo 9’s cocktails, which are designed to leave you at a loss for words. You’ll find the great classics, of course, but you’ll also find combinations that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s a true voyage into the spirit world.”
Out of town
Our editor’s pick is Pizzeria Da Sandrino in Pontassieve (piazza Washington 12, Pontassieve / 055 8368510). Friendly and knowledgable Leonardo Nencetti welcomes you to this idyll of innovative, naturally leavened pizza bases (try the Venere rice, which lends a purple hue to the dough) with gourmet toppings that never go over the top. Our favourites are the Napoli 2.0, with burrata, capers, anchovies and sundried tomatoes, and La Nostra Carbonara, which comes with a perfectly cooked egg in the middle of the mozzarella, pecorino and guanciale. Try the delicious beers from Friuli or the many wines hand-picked to pair with the exquisite pizzas: you’ll find some beauties.
On the road
Giovanni Santarpia has long been a firm favourite on Florence’s pizza scene. Now he’s taken to the path less travelled with Santarpizza On The Road, a mobile wood-fired Tuscan-made Valoriani oven for summer events with a slice of Margherita and more. For more details, call +39 348 8226705 or check out www.giovannisantarpia.com.