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Food + Drink

The 9 Most Mind-Blowing Restaurants in Florence

Italy will forever be a foodie’s fairytale. Between the meats, cheeses, pastas, and wine (oh yes, the vino), it really has it all. And Florence is at the heart. Get your forks ready to tuck into these, the nine most mouthwatering meals in Firenze.

Chelsea is Brooklyn-based travel writer, editor, and photographer. When not home eating her way through NYC, she's gallivanting across the globe, sailing the coast of Croatia or hiking the peaks of Peru. Her superpowers include booking flight deals and sleeping in small plane seats.

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SPOON Dinner, Borgo San Jacopo

Hotel Lungarno’s culinary star, Borgo San Jacopo, is a feast in and of itself. But once a month, the restaurant invites a handful of Italy’s award-winning chefs to cook and eat with guests at the SPOON event series. The five-course dinner is a collaboration between resident chef Peter Brunel and Michelin-starred masters (like Lorenzo Cogo of El Coque, and Andrea Aprea of Vun), and highlights out-of-this-world dishes, such as 100-hour roasted pork with chicory, smoked provola cheese, honey, and peperoncino, plus a pumpkin, chestnut, and white truffle bisque. But the best is definitely saved for last, with a dessert that’s almost too beautiful to eat: vanilla mascarpone colored pencils, crunchy hazelnut pralines, and white coffee semifreddo.

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When acclaimed chef Simone Cipriani and restaurateur Massimiliano Vitali teamed up to open Essenziale, we made sure to be first on the guest list. The bright industrial space (formerly a warehouse garage in Piazza del Cestello) is vastly different from Florence’s typical low-lit, romantic trattorias. Picture a loft-like open room, with exposed wood beams, leather couches, metal skylights, and a raised platform where the chef can watch over the scene (and play DJ with his favorite pop-rock hits). But don’t let the casual atmosphere fool you—each dish is as creative and curated as any five-star affair. There’s the à la carte option, as well as three-, five- and seven-course menus to choose from, with innovative items like lingua alla pizzaiola (beef tongue, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, spring onions) and olive oil ice cream.

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Enoteca Pinchiorri

If there’s one restaurant you MUST go to, Enoteca Pinchiorri is it. Opened in 1979 by sommelier Giorgio Pinchiorri and his French wife, chef Annie Féolde, it is now one of eight restaurants in the country to be awarded three Michelin stars (making Féolde the first woman from Italy to accomplish this feat). Everything here is extravagant, from the elegant Renaissance-inspired dining room (with antique furniture and a replica of Michelangelo’s David) to the seven-course gourmet meal and 12,000-bottle wine cellar. Favorite showstoppers are the lemon verbena and mint-marinated sea bream with wild rice, avocado and sea urchins, as well as the fried bone marrow with saffron mousse and green apple.

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La Bottega Del Buon Caffè

When Michelin-starred chef Antonello Sardi took over the kitchen at this new riverside restaurant, we knew it would be a winner. The farm-to-table tasting menus are sourced from the owners’ garden at their countryside hotel, Borgo Santo Pietro. Standouts include: foie gras crème brûlée with red onion sorbet; veal tongue and red prawns; goat cheese risotto with green peppers, smoked eel, and wild fennel; cappelletti pasta stuffed with pigeon; plus vanilla potato foam with white chocolate and truffle.

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Konnubio Via dei Conti

It’s not often that you find vegetarian and vegan dishes mixed into an authentic Tuscan menu. But at Konnubio, head chef Beatrice Segoni finds the perfect marriage of flavors. The restaurant has been so successful in fact, that it’s opened a second outpost in the Santa Croce area. Take a table in the modern dining room (all Edison bulbs, contemporary art, and beige sofa seating), then dig into creative cuisine like agnolotti stuffed with rabbit and olives, or pumpkin cream pasta with tofu croquettes, mango, and curry.

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iO Osteria Personale

The contemporary iO Osteria Personale is miles from Florence’s traditional trattorias. Matteo Fantini’s original recipes blend the tastes of Tuscany with picture-perfect presentation. We love the 62-degree egg with roasted artichokes, Taleggio cheese foam, marjoram, and licorice powder as well as the candied onion with parmesan cheese fondue, smoked potato, and fried quinoa.

RELATED: The 5 Best Day Trips from Rome

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Il Santo Bevitore

You definitely won’t get bored at Il Santo Bevitore. Their seasonal menu changes every three months and features home-style meals, such as pappardelle pasta with wild boar and bilberries followed by over-the-top desserts like coffee crème brûlée with rum gelato. It’s no wonder celebs (Jessica Alba and Monica Bellucci, among others) have been spotted dining here.

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Trattoria Sostanza

For a true authentic meal, follow the Florentine locals to Trattoria Sostanza. The eatery has been in business since 1869, and its menu reflects the methods of cooking that have been passed down from generations. Must-orders include the artichoke tart and the bistecca alla fiorentina, a massive slab of meat that is roasted over an ancient wood-burning stove.

TOUR TO BOOK: If all this food talk has you wanting to whip up a meal yourself, sign up for a local chef-led Italian cooking class in Florence. This one includes a tour of the Central Market before lessons on bruschetta, homemade pasta, and dessert—plus Chianti wine to sip while you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

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Trattoria Cibrèo

Disclaimer: this isn’t your typical white-tablecloth institution. Trattoria Cibrèo is the informal offshoot of chef Fabio Picchi’s epicurean empire, which contains the fine-dining Cibrèo and cabaret-turned-café Teatro del Sale. The walk-in-only spot in the city’s Sant’Ambrogio neighborhood serves similar crowd-pleasers—gran pezzo (roast rack of beef) and coniglio farcito (stuffed rabbit)—as Cibrèo, but won’t bust your bank account.

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