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The 10 food passions in Florence, Italy

The 10 food passions in Florence, Italy

by George Black

One always thinks about romance and beauty when thinking of Italy. Some also think of the rich history of this country when we talk about art, culture, and politics. Fewer people remember that Italian cuisine, specifically the gastronomical scene of the Tuscany region is a diverse and distinguished as anything else in Northern Italy. With the largest number of people living in it and the strongest political and economical presence, Florence has a lot to offer to both the picky and the curious.

1. Start with focaccia
Start with focaccia
Focaccia

It's traditional Italian flat oven-baked bread that is cooked in flat sheet pans, flavoured with olive oil and rosemary and topped with herbs and vegetables. Focaccia is regarded as a pizza's precursor. It derives from the Latin word 'focacia' which means 'hearth' or 'fireside'.

Sandwiches
Via dei Neri, 74, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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Breaking bread is important when you're settling into life in Florence. In this regard, nothing is better than a flat-leavened oven-baked Italian bread called focaccia. It's rather similar in style and texture to pizza, and even gets called "pizza bianca" in some parts of the country. The bread's origins can be traced back to the times of the Roman Empire, and now it's a very traditional and widely accepted sandwich component or a side dish in its own right. Focaccia has actually gotten many modifications in many places over the centuries, and Florence has most of them to offer.

All’Antico Vinaio has a lot of tasty bread, including focaccia.

2. Never go wrong with lasagna
Never go wrong with lasagna
Lasagna

This traditional Italian dish comes from Bologna and it seems the oldest type of pasta. Lasagna is stacked layers of wide and flat pasta and a variety of other ingredients, including sauce, vegetables, cheese, meat, etc. The word 'lasagna' refers to a pot where this dish was cooked.

#49 of 2504 cafes in Florence
Italian, Pizza, Wine bars, Sandwiches
Via Romana, 40r, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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No one can ever truly tell that they've eaten Italian if they haven't tried Italian pasta. Indeed, no pasta is as iconic as lasagna. It's one of the oldest types of pasta made of very wide flat sheets forming stacked layers of fillings such as ground meats and tomato sauce, vegetables, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and seasonings and spices. After baking the construction, a casserole is formed and served hot. Lasagna is a high-calorie food, yet its allure is exactly that of a nutritious and delicious dish.

Places Pitti Express are good for getting some nice lasagna.

3. Go forth with risotto
Go forth with risotto
Risotto

This dish comes from Northern Italian whose climate is ideal for growing rice (riso means 'rice'). The key ingredient is semi-rounded short-grain rice cooked with meat, fish or vegetable broth. Try risotto with parmesan cheese and white wine. Add saffron for flavour and yellow colour.

#3 of 1030 pizza restaurants in Florence
Pizza, Italian, Steakhouses
Via Ventisette Aprile, 16, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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While we're in the northern parts of Italy, we should check out something that originates from these parts. Naturally, there is a northern Italian rice dish cooked with broth until it reaches a creamy consistency and becomes something to wonder at and eat with both gastronomical and aesthetic pleasure. While less famous than pizza, risotto is a staple of Italian cuisine around the world. Different recipes for risotto contain butter, onion, white wine, and parmesan cheese combined with broth derived from meat, fish, or vegetables. risotto usually accompanies a different main dish but sometimes can be served as the main dish itself.

Try restaurants like Fuoco Matto for quality risotto.

4. Reset the tone with antipasto
Reset the tone with antipasto
Antipasto

Antipasto is a traditional Italian snack (the word “antipasto” literally means “before meals”). Can be hot or cold, and contain cold cuts, seafood, cheeses, and vegetables.

#62 of 3128 restaurants in Florence
Steakhouses
Via Chiantigiana per Ferrone, 22, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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We've started with aperitifs and main courses, but one should always remember the formal rules of eating. There exists a traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. It's called antipasto and made from cured meats, olives, pepperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, various cheeses, and pickled meats with vegetables in oil or vinegar. Antipasto actually differs quite a while between the northern and the southern parts of Italy. In Florence, it has completely different meats than, say, in Naples.

Try great antipasto at Osteria Il Ciliegiolo.

5. Lighten up with gnocchi
Lighten up with gnocchi
Gnocchi

Gnocchi are small Italian dumplings made of wheat flour, eggs and cooked potatoes. The ingredients are mixed, rolled into logs, cut into small pieces and then boiled. Optionally, pumpkin and spinach can be added to the mixture. The dish appeared in the 16th century when potatoes were imported from America.

#35 of 3128 restaurants in Florence
Italian, Pizza, Steakhouses
Via del Proconsolo, 30/32r, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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Let's get a little less formal now. In Florence, it's always worth checking out smaller more pleasant things like dumplings. In Italian cuisine, there's the type of dumplings called gnocchi. They are made from small lumps of dough composed of semolina, ordinary wheat flour, eggs, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal, etc. Gnocchi is often pressed with a fork or a cheese grater to make ridges or cut into little lumps. Common accompaniments of gnocchi include melted butter with sage, pesto, as well as various sauces.

Places such as La Vetreria offer gnocchi as part of their standard menu in Florence.

6. Spice things up with salsiccia
Spice things up with salsiccia
Salsiccia

It's Italian pork sausage seasoned with fennel and numerous spices. The dish is cooked from ground or minced pork and fat that are filled into pork or sheep casing and then cured or smoked.

#3 of 2891 pubs & bars in Florence
Italian, Wine bars
Piazza dei Rossi, 1R, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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Italians are good at spicing up their food without going overboard. This kind of exquisite balance is reflected in the most surprising foods. Take pork sausage, for example. Florence offers a great choice of those, locally called salsiccia. This kind of Italian sausage is often seasoned with fennel as the primary seasoning along with other components to give it a sharp, mild, and spicy feel according to the preferences of the chef. Salsiccia can be bought in a food store but the real deal is always made in a restaurant.

Volpi e L’Uva offers good Italian sausage with a variety of wines, which is especially important for getting the real taste of Florence.

7. Stay cheesy with burrata
Stay cheesy with burrata
Burrata

Burrata is Italian cheese that is an excellent combination of mozzarella and cream. Its name comes from the word "burro", which means butter. Each ball is a mozzarella bag stuffed with filling.

#12 of 3128 restaurants in Florence
Italian, Seafood
Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 3R, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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Italian cheeses have always competed with the French ones for popularity, yet no one would deny that, in terms of taste, everyone's a winner in this race. In Florence, there can be felt a surprisingly strong presence of southern Italian cheese products like burrata. It's a kind of cheese product made from either cow or buffalo milk and comprised of mozzarella and cream. Burrata is solid on the inside, and on the inside, it contains stracciatella and cream resulting in an unusual, soft texture. After making the cheese part, burrata is often wrapped in the leaves of asphodel, tied to form a little brioche-like topknot, and moistened with a little whey.

Check out some of the more high-class restaurants like Brandolino to get proper burrata.

8. Even the odds with pappardelle
Even the odds with pappardelle
Pappardelle

Pappardelle is one of the widest types of flat egg paste. The name of this noodle comes from the verb "pappare", which in Tuscan dialect means "to eat with pleasure and joy." The width of fresh pappardelle can reach 3 cm, dry ones are narrower - 1.3-1.5 cm. Homemade pappardelle is not difficult to prepare, but they turn out to be incredibly tasty and aromatic.

#310 of 3128 restaurants in Florence
Italian
Via Faenza, 73/r, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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We should get back to the topic of pasta for a moment. Everyone knows the more popular types of pasta, even visually they are very distinct. Florence, however, has a trademark pasta that looks unusual even for the famously beautiful Italian food. Pappardelle is long, wide, and flat, usually paired with a heavy sauce such as a ragu. The most interesting thing is picking the meat to go with the rest. It can be regular or exotic like the wild hare, goose, or rabbit, or even boar. In Florence, this depends on the place and the chef.

A safe bet would be Antichi Cancelli.

9. Stay classy with carpaccio 
Stay classy with carpaccio
Carpaccio

It's an Italian appetizer made from thinly sliced raw meat or fish, drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil and served with onions and capers. Carpaccio was introduced in Venice in 1950. A restaurant owner cooked it for a countess who couldn't eat boiled meat for medical reasons.

Italian, Steakhouses
Via del Sole, 27r, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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Not all Italian food has an ancient legacy. Carpaccio, for example, was invented in 1950 and felt as rich and modern as most things created at the time. indeed, it was invented as a special dish for the countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo whose diet needed to include raw meat. The rest is history. Carpaccio is beef, veal, venison, salmon or tuna thinly sliced or pounded thin and served raw, typically as an appetizer. The traditional way to serve it is with lemon, olive oil, and white truffle or Parmesan cheese.

Decent carpaccio can be found at La Martinicca.

10. Stay sweet with tiramisu
Stay sweet with tiramisu
Tiramisu

It's an authentic no-bake Italian dessert with a coffee flavor. It means 'cheer me up' because of the two caffeine-containing ingredients - coffee and cocoa. Tiramisu is made from espresso-dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone cream.

#5 of 3128 restaurants in Florence
Italian, Pizza, Grill
Borgo S. Lorenzo, 39R, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
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It looks like we've left the best thing for dessert if you'll forgive the pun. Another world-famous Italian dish is tiramisu. It's made of savoiardi dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese flavored with cocoa. Tiramisu takes many shapes and forms, usually a cake with rich topping. Unlike the older entries on our list, tiramisu is very young and unashamedly modern. it's sweet, pretty, and inventive, all the qualities of a proper product of Italian ingenuity. Florence has a lot of places offering tiramisu, both traditional and newer recipes.

Wonderful tiramisu can be found at Il Nutino.

So, after this short but fruitful journey, we have uncovered an abundance of interesting food in Florence. Explore the city and its culinary treasures at your leisure.

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The 10 food passions in Florence, Italy