Florence hosts some of the most refined restaurants in Italy, in charming places rich in ancient and contemporary history: from the garden of an ancient villa to the new Rinascente food hall. Here are some of the most exclusive addresses in the city where you can taste a new and visionary revisitation of traditional Tuscan gastronomy.
It is the project of Florence native Simone Arnetoli and Laura Tosetti, who managed to create a Tuscan residence in their restaurants in Florence and Milan, on February 7 they opened in the exclusive setting of Rinascente in Piazza della Repubblica in Florence. The fourth floor will reopen after the renovation works that transformed the food hall into an authentic Tuscan gastronomic experience: ToscaNino will offer traditional delicacies, chosen through a careful selection of local food and wine producers. Among cold cut platters, Ribollita, Chianina beef tartare and home-made tiramisu, you will indulge in a true Tuscan DOC experience.
The most famous wine bar in the world is located in the historic centre, in a fabulous eighteenth-century palace. It is an address that foodies and gourmet lovers of refined Italian cuisine know well. Let yourself be pampered by the cuisine of the 3-star restaurant which has made the history of Italian gastronomy, one of the few in the world to have gained, lost and then regained the third star. A glorious history of resilience and determination. At the helm, since the Seventies, Niçoise Annie Feolde, the first woman to conquer three Michelin stars in Italy, whose delicious “nibbles” has been accompanying for over three decades the selection of wines collected by her husband, sommelier Giorgio Pinchiorri, a great enthusiast and wine lover. The cuisine represents the evolution of traditional Tuscan dishes, from the iconic liver soufflé with brioches, to spelt soup with Parma ham wrapped shrimp with laurel leaf and pici pasta with bread crumbs. A recognition that the owners share with young chefs Alessandro Della Tommassina and Riccardo Monco, who has been working at the wine bar for a quarter of a century.
Tentacle Spectacle, Holy Cannoli, Taka Bun, Even Angels Eat Beans. Creative and mocking names for the dishes proposed by the 3-star chef of Osteria Francescana in the Bistro within the Gucci Garden, the museum dedicated to the heritage of the brand that has made the history of Italian luxury. It is located inside the Palazzo della Mercanzia, which alone is worth a visit. At Gucci Osteria, you will discover the gastro fanatic glamour of the chef who opened the best restaurant in the world, a lux-pop version invigorated by the irony of the creative director of the Maison, Alessandro Michele. Sweeten the palate with a grapefruit spritz sorbet with fruit salad before visiting the gallery, curated by critic and curator Maria Luisa Frisa.
Just behind the Uffizi, near the ancient prison, you will find a place that is an invitation to transparency with its “on the street and on the lounge” open kitchen. Honorably retains a star, received in 2011. In the kitchen, chef Marco Stabile with his inventiveness combines avant-garde and Tuscan style. In the Giovane Firenze menu, you will have the opportunity to taste fantastic meat dishes such as Rabbit on the Moon, Semifreddo of Pigeon, The Egg, The Hen, The Eggs: Rituals of a Tuscan Grandmother. The symbolic dish of the restaurant is the Ultrapappa with tomato and basil ice cream, a revisited version of a great simple classic. Tuscan oil is the thread that joins the menu from starter to dessert: you will find it in the Spaghettini with fresh extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano and black Sarawak pepper, and Olio Dolce, an extra virgin oil dessert, semolina cream and Taggiasca olive ice-cream. If you go for lunch, you will find the Tuscan tapas with which the chef will reveal the essence of his cuisine.
On the ground floor of the Palazzo della Gherardesca, among chandeliers and seventeenth-century frescoes, the starred restaurant at the Four Seasons in Florence is considered one of the best hotel restaurants in the world. This is due to the philosophy of Basilicata-born chef Vito Mollica, who has now indorsed a cosmopolitan spirit, a connoisseur of quality raw materials with which he creates his inspired dishes. His Cavatelli pasta ‘cacio e pepe’ with marinated red prawns and baby squid have been awarded dish of the year in 2013 and you cannot avoid trying them. Il Palagio is an unmissable destination for Florentines who want to indulge in an exotic escape in its timeless rooms, or, in the summer, relax in the garden by the pool. Visit the restaurant for the Sunday brunch to taste the chef’s mini creations and the enormous selection of crudités, cold cuts and Tuscan cheeses.
Chefs Filippo Saporito and Ombretta Giovannini, life and culinary experimentation partners, have brought an ancient Sienese legend to the garden of Villa Bardini, a historic Florentine villa now open to the public. From its garden, you can embrace the whole of Florence and admire a unique panorama. The garden, with its baroque staircase, the English forest and the orchard with its wisteria pergola will leave you speechless. Continue your journey immersed in beauty by visiting the villa, which hosts year-round cultural events and art exhibits. If you feel a bit peckish, visit La Leggenda dei Frati: not only a restaurant but also a laboratory that revisits Tuscan gastronomy, starting from the simplest ingredients, like herbs, oil, bread and wine. The whole spelt Spaghetti alla Chitarra with root vegetable ragout, almonds and wild herb pesto or the Mazara red shrimp, olives, hazelnuts, candied lemon, potato foam and salmon roe, will simply amaze you. For the under-25, there is a special menu at 25 euros to make excellence more accessible to young people.