In recent decades, Florence has enjoyed the blossoming of many new restaurants and eateries offering food from different regions of Italy, especially thanks to internal migration from all over the country. Fully mono-region eateries are still a minority, but several spots offer specific dishes that you won’t be able to find elsewhere in the city. Here’s a list of where to find the best versions of specialties, in order from north to south.
Visit Dorsoduro 3821 on via San Gallo to enjoy cicchetti, small bites of food enjoyed with a glass of wine or a spritz. You’ll find different kinds of spritz cocktails here, including Aperol, Campari, Cynar (artichoke) and Select, the traditional Venetian version. The most common kind of cicchetto is a diagonally sliced baguette toast topped with all sorts of deliciousness, made to order. There isn’t a menu to choose from: ask the staff what’s available or just let them know how many you want! The two must-haves are sarde in saor (sardines) and baccalà mantecato con polenta bianca, whipped stockfish on white polenta squares. A perfect spot for an aperitivo or light dinner.
5eCinque in piazza della Passera is a quietly vegetarian restaurant that offers an eclectic selection of dishes from various areas of the world and Italy, including traditional Ligurian focaccia di Recco: two overlapping paper-thin disks of dough filled with creamy stracchino cheese.
Not everybody knows that one of Florence’s most famous restaurants, Trattoria Cammillo, on borgo San Jacopo, first became famous after World War II by Bruno Masiero, a Bolognese soldier. If you take a close look at the menu, you’ll spot several dishes from Emilia Romagna, such as homemade tortellini in brodo: tiny, ring-shaped, meat-filled fresh pasta served in a meat broth.
At Ba’ Ghetto, on via Farini, you’ll find traditional Roman-Jewish dishes, such as Jewish-style whole fried artichokes and Roman-style braised artichokes, abbacchio (roast lamb), coratella all’antica, which is an ancient dish of sheep offal and artichokes, and more. They also serve most of the classic Roman pasta dishes, such as carbonara, gricia and amatriciana, but since the restaurant is kosher, they are not made with traditional guanciale, but with meats other than pork. For Roman-style pizza by the slice, thick, juicy and rich in toppings, visit Roberta and Graziano Monogrammi’s La Divina Pizza on borgo Allegri.
Thanks to the many campani and, specifically, napoletani that live in Florence, options abound for delicious foods from Campania. Visit Pizzeria Giovanni Santarpia on via Senese for Neapolitan pizza and fried specialties like whole fried pizza, which looks like a fried calzone, mozzarella in carrozza, a kind of mozzarella toast, and montanarine, fried pizza dough pillows with various toppings. You can also find most of these fried delicacies at Antica Friggitoria on via dell’Albero, which also serves fried foods from Sicily and Puglia. Check out Forno Maddaloni (via Gioberti) for decadent Neapolitan baked goods, such as babà al rum and crunchy sfogliatelle ricce with a thick semolino, ricotta cheese and candied orange filling. You can usually also find mozzarella di bufala here.
Find Calabrese dishes like thick and chewy fileja pasta with eggplant, tomato, sausage and smoked ricotta, or beef-stuffed roast eggplant at Grazie Assai on via Carnesecchi, right by the stadium. Make sure you book if you plan on dining here on game night. Beware of overordering because their mains are quite generous.
Find Puglian fish street food at Silvia Coppola’s Fratelli di Mare, a former kebab stand recently acquired and transformed by three Apulian siblings by the Medici Chapels in piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini. The fish is sourced from their father’s fishing boat off the southernmost coast of Puglia.
Visit Antonio Lisciandro’s gelateria Carabè on via Ricasoli for light, fluffy gelato and granite, especially his citrus flavors. During the colder months, you can sometimes find muncibeddu, a spiced red wine served hot, similar to mulled wine. Find Sicilian street food from arancini to cannoli at Arà’s spot on via degli Alfani, and Sicilian dishes like eggplant-based rigatoni alla norma pasta and busiate pasta with tomato Sicilian pesto at Arà’s small restaurant on via Carducci.
At Club Culinario Toscano in piazza dei Peruzzi, regardless of the name, oftentimes you can find dishes from all over the country, like Apulian orecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe, Roman-style braised artichokes, and Sardinian culurgiones, fresh stuffed pasta. Adagio, on via de’ Macci, also offers dishes from many different regions of Italy, such as Milanese saffron risotto, Roman oxtail tortelli pasta, Trapanese couscous, and more. The menu changes often, so head over with an open mindset!