We had a group dinner at this wonderful restaurant – there were about 25 of us so we had a back room of this very busy restaurant. As a group, we had limited selections since we were trying to streamline our orders – so we went with an assorted pasta selection and an optional steak selection. The pasta, which was a sampling of five different kinds of pastas and sauces, was €12. Those that added the steak to their meal – a sampling for three kinds of steaks (enough for two people to share) – the total bill was €25 for both meat and pasta. The wine was very good and the service was great.
The restaurant has a lot of plates on the walls that have been decorated by famous people in the entertainment industry – and the room we were in was also decorated with trashcans from “Stomp”, a piano, and other paraphernalia from theatre productions. The owner brought out a plate and let our group design one of our own – not for the wall (since we weren’t famous enough, I guess) but he let us keep the plate as a souvenir of our meal and week in Florence.
One thing I found interesting that I hadn’t seen before is the television that allows you to watch the cooks in the kitchen while they work! I saw our food being prepared and then given to our waiter who appeared in seconds at our table after seeing him on the tv!
Doing some research for this tip, I learned that the restaurant has three locations – Florence, Washington, DC, and San Diego, CA. It was on the bottom of the placemat all this time and I just noticed it!
As we left for the evening, we walked back through the rest of the restaurant and it was crowded. Looks like a place you need to go early or make reservations. I would return again since the food was delicious and the service very good.
After a wonderful meal, we headed back to our hotel for some last minute studying. In the morning we would have our final exam and head on home. But before leaving Florence, I had one last delicious meal with a friend at a very local restaurant, Trattoria Gozzi Sergio that was just a few doors down from our hotel.
I know lots of people that are Hard Rock enthusiasts; I’m not one of them, although I don’t mind eating at one when I’m with a group. The food is good and the atmosphere is fun. I went to the Florence Hard Rock with some friends on one of the days we had an extended lunch break – it is not the place to go for a quick meal. We all had a good time and our server was lots of fun.
The menu was the standard Hard Rock menu – lots of burgers and other standard fare at what I think are expensive prices. I got the classic burger that comes with fries for €15, drinks were extra. It’s a lot of food so if you are a light eater, you could easily share with a friend.
The restaurant is pretty new – our server said it has only been in the city for about 6 months. As with all Hard Rock Cafés, they decorate with band memorabilia and have a pair of Michael Jackson’s pants, a shirt worn by Elvis, and a card signed by all four Beatles, plus lots of other things.
They have a restaurant and bar area with different opening times. The bar has bands that play at night – a list is on the door and on their website. As with all Hard Rocks, they have a shop that sells t-shirts, hats, and pins.
Centrally located near the Piazza della Repubblica, not far from the Cathedral.
Sunday - Thursday 12.00 - 24.00
Friday and Saturday 12.00 - 1.00
Sunday -Thursday 8.30 - 1.00
Friday and Saturday 8.30 - 2.00
COFFEE BAR & ROCK SHOP:
Mon-Sun 8.30 - 24.00
After a full lunch that took longer than we expected, we hurried to meet our instructor at the museum. Inside the Uffizi, we’ll see several works by Sandro Botticelli so let’s look at this artist before we go inside.
A group of us had dinner here on one of our nights in Florence. Our server was a super friendly young guy that was funny and quick to take care of anything we needed. The food was delicious and the service fast.
I had the Ribollita soup – a thick vegetable and bread soup that came with a side of bread. It was delicious and exactly what I was looking for. Others with me had pizza, calzone, bruschetta, tortellini, and salads. No one complained about their food, in fact, all reviews were very favorable!
As with most Florence restaurants, they do charge a cover, which was €1 in addition to your meal and tip. But it advertised in the front of the restaurant and on the menu. But the overall menu prices were very reasonable (my soup was 7.50, pizzas started at 6.50, large bottle of water 2.50).
It was a busy restaurant but one that several members of our party returned to again and again during our stay in Florence. The restaurant is about a block from the Baptistry and near the San Lorenzo Church. Highly recommend!
After a good meal, we walked over to the Palazzo Strozzi to go to an exhibit of Banking and Medici Money. While the exhibit was temporary, look for temporary exhibitions here and in other places around Florence.
My husband and I ate stopped here twice on our first trip to Florence. We were introduced to the restaurant and its owner through a friend and each time had a wonderful experience. Our first stop was in the afternoon and we stopped in for some wine. The hospitality was superior. We were given a tour of their wine cellar – which is part of the Roman excavations of the amphitheatre - it was impressive! And the wine was wonderful too.
We went there a second time for dinner. It was a beautiful day so we ate outside. We allowed the owner to select our meals – starter, main course and dessert – and everything was Italian, fresh and delicious. It was a pleasant evening as we got to know the couple that sat at the table beside us who were from Wales. They were on their third visit to this restaurant and agreed that they hadn’t had a bad meal yet.
The service was top notch – anything we requested we received. At the end, we decided to buy one of the bottles of the wine from their selection that we enjoyed so much – and my husband requested the bottle with the upside down label (it was on display with the rest of them). So we have a unique memento from a wonderful experience!
Francesco, the owner, stood watch over the evening and was quick to notice if anything was askew with any of his guests. It was fascinating to watch his sense of hospitality and fast response.
I had hoped to return on my second trip, but during a discussion with our server (the owner’s son), I learned that he would be celebrating his honeymoon that same week and they would be closed. Sure enough, they were closed (I went by there just in case!). Maybe on my third visit to Florence…
Francesco Vini is located on one of the main pedestrian walks between the Palazzo Vecchio and the Church of Santa Croce. Very easy to find.
Our class headed over towards the Church of Santa Trinita to look at the Renaissance frescoes in the chapels, especially the works of Ghirlandaio in the Sassetti Chapel that feature the Medici family. Join me as we visit the Church of Santa Trinita.
This restaurant came highly recommended from a friend. It is probably the only American style diner in Florence and that is why it started – the owners realized that sometimes people visiting in a foreign land get homesick for food from home. Thus, The Diner was born…
At The Diner you can get breakfast all day long, burgers and fries, shakes – all that traditional diner fare – for a price that won’t bust your wallet. Classic hamburger and fries will run you about €9. And the food is really, really good. Just a fun place to go for a change of pace!
The Diner is on a back street – you would really miss it if you didn’t know it was there – just around from the Bargello. Their website has a map (but not much more). The bright orange seats outside will tell you when you are there! They are open daily from 9:00 am to 10:30 pm.
It was a long day and we covered a lot of ground. In my university course, the next day we boarded a chartered bus for a visit to Siena and San Gimignano, which I have separate pages for if you are interested in a side trip to these Tuscan towns. But for now, let’s continue on in Florence. On the way back to the hotel from The Diner, I stopped at the local convenience store to pick up a couple needed items.
I would stop at this pizzeria on my way back to the hotel for the afternoon lecture. It was quick and easy, which meant I could spend the rest of my lunchtime taking photos or enjoying the city. It is nicely located in the Piazza di San Giovanni – which is the piazza the Baptistry is located in. It is in the row of shops behind the north doors (and entrance to the Baptistry).
They have a variety of pizzas – my preference was the sausage. You pay per 100g – they weigh it for you after cutting off your piece, then pop it into the oven for a quick heating while you pay. Then you are on your way quickly. The price is €1.30 per 100g and my pieces (approximately 6 inches by 9 inches – rectangular shaped) typically were around €5. You can purchase drinks there and even eat in their downstairs area if you like. But on nice days, grab it to go and enjoy the scenery!
For meat lovers – remember that pepperoni will get you peppers so if you want pepperoni (meat) you need to ask for salami.
While we are still near the Baptistry, let’s head over and have a closer look at the outside of the cathedral and the bell tower. Look closely at the statues and reliefs that decorate these structures – these are all copies of the original pieces. Our next stop is located behind the cathedral where we’ll get a look at the originals in the Cathedral Museum.
Florence has been known for its artistic treasures, not its culinary talents.
With Alessandro Gargani's return to his hometown Firenze to make magic in the kitchen of his La Cucina Del Garga restaurant, all that could change.
Trip Advisor's members ranked Garga as the 17th best restaurant out of nearly 1,200 rated in Florence.
The reviews are even better than the top 20 rating, with countless diners saying La Cucina Del Garga was their best dining experience in all of Florence.
That is an amazing tribute, when many consider the cafes in rural Tuscany and Umbria to be superior to the restaurants of tourist-choked Florence.
And many prefer Southern Italian cooking to the less revered Central Italy cuisine of Florence.
La Cucina Del Garga isn't even on the River Arno, or next to the Duomo or adjacent to the Uffizi or in the heart of the foodie Santa Croce area.
It's a beat off the beaten track, a bit north of the Basilica San Lorenzo Church and Mercato Centrale.
It even has to compete with a similarly-named restaurant that does everything it can to poach diners away from La Cucina Del Garga (more on that later).
Even the dining rooms at Garga are far from traditional.
Wildly eclectic, some would say mismatched, paintings and other objects de arte bring color, if not formality to the dining areas.
So with all against so many odds -- doing amazing things with seafood while not being in a coastal area, not having the advantage of tourist foot traffic and being based in a city more know for Michelangelo than Michelin stars -- how does La Cucina Del Garga do it?
We'll let the kitchen creations do the talking.
It should be noted that we arrived unfashionably early for lunch on a mid-week day -- a time when kitchens might not be at their peak.
We also arrived angered and disheveled -- because an idiot taxi driver ignored our pleas and deposited at the similarly-named rogue restaurant that steal customers away from Garga.
We had to fight with the second cabbie to get to the real La Cucina Del Garga by insisting we be deposited at its Via San Zanobi, 33 address -- even if there wasn't a trattoria within 2 kilometers (as the moronic driver insisted).
So again, against all odds, Chef Alessandro Gargani calmed us, entertained us and pleased or palates with his stellar cuisine.
We were not starving -- so rather than doing formal primi, secondi, antipasti and contorni -- we settled on a secondi patti each plus one starter and one side to share.
Though Florence is about 90 kilometers from the Mediterranean, we put our trust in Chef Alessandro and both ordered secondi piatti from the sea.
I opted for composta tiepida di mare -- a mix of sautéed boneless seafood salad served warm with cherry tomatoes and celery.
My bountiful warm seafood salad had octopus, squid, mussels, clams and more.
I thought I had scored the most delightful Italian seafood in all the nation....until my wife Heidi shared a bit of her main dish.
Her polpo piccante alla piastra con fagioli saltati --
Seared marinated spicy octopus served over sautéed beans -- was to die for.
If my meal deserved a letter grade of A, hers was A+++.
Never have I had octopus so spicy and so crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Living in Miami, we eat a lot of octopus (pulpo in Little Havana's espanol, polpo in the Italiano of Firenze), so we know the good stuff from a meal that would better serve as live bait.
La Cucina Del Garga's spicy creation was the freshest-sourced, most delicately-prepared octopus we'd ever tasted.
The bed of beans was no throwaway either.
You can't get anymore Tuscan than beans in olive oil and Garga's are as perfect as you'll find in the whole region.
Our contorni (side dish) patate al forno con rosmarino al profumo di limoni -- roasted lemon and rosemary infused potatoes.
We wanted to put Alessandro Gargani to the test with something simple.
Roasted potatoes are about as simple as it gets.
They also happen to be one of the most butchered side dishes on the planet.
We have gone to countless 5-star restaurants that have turned simple roast potatoes into something bland as sawdust.
Not so with La Cucina Del Garga.
Heidi, not nearly so big a starch eater as I am (and with the girlish figure to prove it), was fighting me for the last roasted potato on the plate.
Crispy on the inside and perfectly delicate on the inside, the lemon and rosemary was the perfect touch to transcend the taters into something succulent but not overpowered with too much infused flavoring.
The primi we ordered as a starter actually batted cleanup in our culinary lineup, after we'd finished the seafood.
While we scored points for ordering the eclectic seafood, we touched the chef's heart when we asked to share a small plate of pasta.
Garga's Ravioli al sugo di carne -- Spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli with meat sauce -- really is from Alessandro's father's father secret red meat sauce recipe.
We don't want to give away the secret, but we're almost certain that the rich red sauce is made without tomatoes.
We'd venture to say the savory gravy is about equal parts beef, red wine and onion.
That I liked it is a testament to La Cucina Del Garga's wizardry.
I'm not big on meat sauce for pasta and onions usually give me fits in larger quantities.
But this sauce was divine and the ravioli was homemade.
We would be remiss if we didn't mention that we eased into our lavish lunch with a perfectly sparkling dry prosecco to wash down a fabulous fresh bread with outstanding olive oil.
A chef-suggested (we're idiots for not jotting down the label, but we were too relaxed to pay attention to fine details) red wine fueled us through the primi and secondi.
We were too sated to be tempted by dessert, but we couldn't pass up on a couple strong Italian espressos.
The shots were as rich and powerful as our hometown Cuban Coffee but without the tons of sugar that automatically comes in the cafe favored by our Cubano brethren.
The verdict -- we are as likely to return to Florence for the artistry of La Cucina Del Garga and Chef Alessandro Gargani as we are for the master works of Botticelli, Brunelleschi, Donatello and Giotto.
Favorite Dish: polpo piccante alla piastra con fagioli saltati --
Seared marinated spicy octopus served over sautéed beans
We stayed in Florence for 4 days and we dined in that restaurant twice, so you can imagine how much we loved it. Food is cooked in the traditional ovens on the wood, all ingredients are fresh, even peppers are hanging there in front of you and you can see the cooks that use them right there on the spot. The decoration is what you would expect from a typical Italian trattoria, but again, there is something special. Maybe it's the fact that the place is at the beginning of a lovely, narrow, pedestrian street, maybe it's the music or the smell of the food!
Favorite Dish: As I said, we dined there twice. We tasted the Fiorentina pizza (salami, peppers, olives) 8 euros and the Maialona (ham, spicy salami tuscan, salami wurstel) 8 euros. We also had some Peroni Nostro Azzurro beer 5 euros and some sparkling water 2.50 euros. But the best dish, by far, is the penne Arrabiata. My God! Never in our lives had we tasted a better dish than that! It was really mouthwatering. You should definitely try it.
Italy’s reputation as a civilization through the millennia is unparalleled: standard-setting architecture, ingenious feats of engineering, art as awe-inspiring as gazing into the face of God.
All of those things should be part and parcel of a trip to Florence. But let’s not forget two of the best things about contemporary Italian culture: tasty things to put in one’s mouth and gorgeous things to wear.
That’s why Caffe Giacosa was a must-see on my list. Nestled in Florence’s famed fashion district centered around Via Tornabuoni (the boutiques! the bags! the Pucci prints!), Giacosa is part coffee house, part salon, and 100 percent famed Italian designer Roberto Cavalli.
Cavalli, a Florentine by birth, saved and re-imagined the spot that was the former location of an antique shop turned cafe. The designer synonymous with bold animal prints has created a space -- once known as Florence’s drawing room – that gives a nod to both the past and the present. Think Old World luxe crossed with contemporary chic: a gorgeous wooden bar and padded banquets; walls covered with black and white photos of fashion models, working the all-important contrast of light and shadow, like the chiaroscuro in Renaissance paintings.
Giacosa is open throughout the day. To get the full flavor of it, first come for breakfast, then return for afternoon highballs. Our morning visit included aromatic, perfectly foamed cappuccino and an assortment of scrumptious pastries, including some dark, near bitter chocolate delights and a blueberry-filled croissant.
The people-watching was as irresistible as the food. Businessmen in bespoke suits and expensive looking briefcases rushed in for coffee and pastry, then on to the office. A decidedly hip young mom spent some quality time with her little shaver in tow. A slender, androgynous woman with impossibly thin hips encased in leather pants stopped to make the scene.
Giacosa is inviting for late afternoon cocktails, and the drink of choice is the Negroni. The mystical union of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin was invented on this very site at the start of the 1920s, back when it was Bar Casoni. I approached the handsome barkeep in vest and tie and ordered the drink old fashioned-style, one of several variations on the menu. He presented it smartly with a garnish of fresh orange slice, the sweetness complementing my mini baguette with prosciutto di Parma.
One can also get other delights to go or have them shipped home, such as wickedly good chocolates by weight, Roberto Cavalli Vodka, or Cavalli Tenuta Degli Dei Wine. Whatever your pleasure, Giacosa is a heady mix of old Euro charm and of-the-moment glamour, a perfect oasis of calm from the buzzing streets of Florence.
Favorite Dish: Negroni...it was invented here
It is a very central place, close to the Duomo so it is, inevitably, very touristy. Another consequence of that is that prices are higher than normal. It was right on our way while we were walking, feeling tired, hot and thirsty. We had some ice-cream, of course. The one with Nutella, Cheesecake and Yoghurt and the other one with Pistachio, Nutella and Crema. And some sparkling water. And that cost us 26euros! Quite a lot, ha?
Favorite Dish: The ice-cream was delicious.