Where or where to start with Italy and food?! Love letters could be written to Italian food -- and it would be understandable. Italians appreciate quality food, fresh ingredients, and they are true masters at their craft. Here were the spots that left me wanting more.
Favorite Food in Florence:
My favorite spots on the Oltrarno side of Florence included:
- Palazzo Tempi, for the freshest pesto pasta and gnocchi. It's very affordable, and casual.
- Fuor d’aqua for a fine dining seafood experience. It's best to save this one for a special occasion or date night spot (i.e. they accommodated Claire, but I wouldn't say it's "family friendly." Think - white table cloths and a coursed meal.) The salt baked Bronzino melts in your mouth, and don't forget to order the burrata filled ravioli. The focus on seafood was a nice break from the heavier pasta/pizza meals found in most restaurants.
- After dinner, grab some gelato at La Carraria.
- When you wake up the next day, have breakfast at O Bar. Located just steps away from our apartment rental, it had the best spremuta (fresh squeezed OJ) and delicious scrambled eggs.
When you find yourself on the other side of the Arno River in the historical center of town, don't miss these restaurants:
- Dine outdoors, under a spacious covered patio, at the boutique hotel J.K. Place. I recommend the tortellini “mama style,” and the Caprese salad. The patio sits on the square of Santa Maria Novella, where it was relaxing to watch people stroll on by. It was also family friendly -- they had a high chair at the ready, and the patio easily accommodated our stroller.
- If you need a good date night spot, or just want to experience a classically Italian night, head over to La Giostra. They are famous for their pear filled pasta, and spinach gnudi. They only offered indoor dining, but I was shocked to walk inside and find a ceiling covered in sparkling lights! It honestly felt like dinner under the stars. Reservations are recommended, and while they did accommodate Claire, I suggest leaving the little ones with a sitter.
- After dinner, try some gelato at Gelato Neri (my favorite gelato spot).
- If you are on this side of the river during the day, go for lunch at Yellow Bar for their pizza and butter/sage ravioli.
Favorite Food of the Tuscan Countryside:
- If you are a guest (or even if you're not) at Borgo Pignano, make sure to check out Al Fresca for wood fired pizza, eggplant parmigiana, and fresh pasta. The hotel also has a delicious fine dining option, Villa Pignano Restaurant, that overlooks the Tuscan valley, where you won't want to miss the Cacio e Pepe.
- If you are headed to Volterra, you must eat dinner at Enoteca Del Duca--this was my favorite meal of the entire vacation. Besides the Michelin star, you know it's a great restaurant when you order one of your entrees, devour it, and then order it again. Yup. I did that. That winning dish goes to the ravioli (see below), and I also inhaled the Spaghetti carbonara (done vegetarian style), and fresh baked bread.
- Lastly, if you are craving pizza, check out Il Trovatore, located right outside the city walls of San Gimignano.
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