My time here in the magnificent renaissance city of Florence is sadly coming to an end. Even though this city is quite small, there are so many restaurants that I still haven’t tried over the last four years!
I went on the hunt for more of Florence’s favorite trattorias and neighborhood gems.
1. Trattoria La Casalinga: I’ve been wanting to try this trattoria for years now since I always pass by it. Trattoria La Casalinga is located near cute Piazza Santo Spirito and not only offers great Tuscan cuisine but at a very affordable price!
The crostini misti consisted of one with fresh tomatoes and basil, one with chicken liver pâté, one with cannellini beans, and one with grated carrot. It was good but not the best I’ve ever tried; I prefer the crostini toscani (the chicken liver pâté) at Trattoria Pandemonio. The roast beef was tasty and how can you go wrong with a side of delicious rosemary scented roasted potatoes! The tiramisu was slightly disappointing, not that it was bad but once again I preferred Trattoria Pandemonio’s version. However the prices at Trattoria La Casalinga are quite low compared to a lot of places in Florence so I would rate them at a 7-7.5/10.
2. Trattoria Da Ruggero: Another trattoria offering classic Tuscan food and at a great price! Trattoria Da Ruggero is a bit further from the city center, located past Porta Romana, but if you’re up for the walk it’s worth it (it took me 30 minutes to walk there from my apartment).
I decided to order ribollita, a Tuscan stew found at almost every trattoria made from bread, white beans, and cavolo nero (Tuscan black cabbage/kale); every trattoria has their own version of ribollita but they must always have those three key ingredients. Just add a drizzle of fruity olive oil and freshly cracked pepper and this Tuscan classic is sure to warm you up! The braciola, pounded fried pork cutlet soaked in a lovely sauce, was scrumptious goodness. The braised baby artichokes were also delicious and once again I always need a side of roasted potatoes (these were tossed with fragrant herbs and garlic, yum) with my meat! My rating for Trattoria Da Ruggero is an 8/10.
3. Zeb Gastronomia: Tucked away in a small piazza across the Arno river, I’ve heard only good things about this tiny restaurant where the mother and son team cook everything from scratch! At Zeb Gastronomia there are no individual tables at the restaurant, all seating is at the bar. They are only other for dinner Thursday-Sunday but are open for lunch everyday except their closed day, Wednesday. Their menu frequently changes but they always have their famous stuffed pasta dish with shaved black truffles so I had to try it! However the other pasta dishes sounded absolutely amazing; zucchini blossom ravioli with Burrata cheese sauce, eggplant ravioli with tomato sauce and Ricotta Salata cheese, pear and Pecorino cheese ravioli, and pici with a fresh pesto sauce.
The ravioli with black truffles was divine! Al dente pasta with a creamy sweet filling topped with freshly shaved earthy black truffles all swimming in a pool of fruity olive oil. MMMM! For their main courses, you can choose a variety of dishes (mostly meat) and vegetable side dishes. Since I’ve been eating a lot of meat lately, I decided to order the eggplant parmigiano which was very good but I think I can make a better one 😉. I’m a sucker for vegetables so I had to get a side of delicious roasted fennel (might sound weird but trust me, it’s amazing) and sautéed zucchini. I didn’t have room for dessert but I’ve read that their chocolate cake is out of this world so if you’re not too full be sure to try it. I’d rate Zeb Gastronomia at an 8/10.
4. Trattoria Sostanza: This place is almost impossible to get a reservation especially since they’re only open during the weekdays; I tried two times to snatch a dinner reservation and they were fully booked and finally on my third attempt I got in! I’ve been hearing about Trattoria Sostanza for literally years but for some reason never got around to trying it. I came here with my friend Tatiana and we were both eager and curious on why this place is so difficult to get in and if the food lived up to the hype.
First off, Trattoria Sostanza is a small restaurant so you will most likely be sharing a table with other people. The food was overall pretty good. The penne al sugo, a simple pasta dish with meat sauce, was flavorful but slightly dry. Their signature dish of chicken breast sizzling in a sea of butter was also good but didn’t live up to its reputation. It needed a little more love, perhaps more seasoning and fresh herbs would have amped up the favor. The insalata mista with tomatoes was dressed simply but refreshing and the tomatoes were juicy and sweet. The fagioli all’uccelletto, white beans stewed with garlic and tomatoes, was satisfying with creamy beans, pungent garlic, and sweet tomato sauce. Lastly, their meringue cake was divine! I had never tried this dessert but supposedly it’s a classic Italian dessert. I’m also typically not a fan of meringue but their cake was delicious; airy crisp pieces of meringue (not overly sweet) stuffed with luscious cream topped with chocolate shavings and fresh wild strawberries. Without a doubt if you go here you must order this dessert! Trattoria Sostanza isn’t typically Tuscan cuisine but serves tasty Italian comfort food. My rating is a 7.5/10.
5. Olio e Convivium, now known as Olio Restaurant: I actually interned at Olio Restaurant as part of my culinary school back in 2012 for a few months and loved it. Since then they’ve changed the chef and I haven’t dined there since 2012 so I thought I would give it a try. They have an absolutely amazing selection of artisanal cheeses and cured meats. They offer two tasting menus, one fish and one meat, and an à la carte menu and it’s more upscale compared to the previous places I’ve mentioned on this post.
I’m so sad that I didn’t go back to this restaurant until now because the food was delicious! Without a doubt if you come here you must order the mixed salumi platter or mixed cheese platter. I decided to order the meat tasting menu (even though the fish one also looked great) and I was overall satisfied with my meal. The Robiola cheese sformato, a savory flan, was creamy and luscious with vibrant spring peas and crispy salty duck prosciutto. The homemade maccheroni had a flavorful pork shoulder ragù with pencil thin asparagus and an airy Parmigiano Reggiano cheese foam. The main course, the veal cheek, was cooked beautifully (extremely tender) but needed a little more seasoning. Lastly, the brûléed Vin Santo cream was a great way to end the meal. Everything from service and food was great so I’d rate Olio at an 8/10.