Tuscan cuisine is simple, peasant food. It is comfort food, par excellence. Key ingredients for the Tuscan kitchen include the amazing olive oils produced nearby. Meats on a Tuscan menu often consist of game, and this is particularly the case in Florence, where you will find meat sauces in pasta often are made with wild boar or rabbit. Below are a few classic local favorites to try and a small guide of what to eat in Florence Italy.
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In Tuscany, you will also find different shapes of pasta from other regions, such as the handmade pici, or paccheri, a wide tube pasta, and gnudi, a melt-in-your-mouth dumpling.
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A classic Tuscan antipasto is a rustic peasant chicken liver pate served on perfectly toasted bread drizzled with olive oil. It is really, really worth a try. You will also sometimes see it listed on menus as crostini alla fiorentina, because, well, it is essentially Florentine. Try it at Trattoria Cammillo, at Borgo San Jacopo 57/r, near Palazzo Pitti.
This is a refreshing summer salad resonant of the winter comfort of ribollita soup as it is also made with bread and vegetables soaked in olive oil, a peasant trick for using day old bread in Tuscany. The salad is made with cubed bread tossed with basil, onions, olive oil, tomatoes, and occasionally other vegetables such as cucumber. Historians trace a reference to this famous salad back as early as the 16th century, when Florentine artist Bronzino was quoted in writing singing a similar recipe’s praises. Try it at Trattoria Sabatino, at Via Pisano 2/r, a simple and inexpensive family run place in the Oltrarno.
Meat lovers pilgrimage to Florence to eat bistecca fiorentina, a famous cut and type of beef from cows raised in the Chianinia valley of the Valdichiana region of Tuscany, where it is said the sweetness of the meadow grasses flavor the beef like no other place. The cuts are served at restaurants by weight, and grilled with little seasoning (beyond the kiss of the Tuscan sun and the sweetness of its valleys), and served rare. To order this famous cut of beef well done would be considered foodie heresy, and in fact, you can find waiters who will refuse that request! Try it at Il Latini (Via del Palchetti 6/r).
Soups are a staple of the Tuscan diet, such as minestrone, and pappa al pomodoro. Ribollita is among the most famous of Tuscan soups, as it is a hearty soup worthy of a meal, made with bread and vegetables such as kale, cabbage, carrots, celery, leeks, tomatoes and potatoes, soaked together with bread and cannellini beans in a vegetable broth, and topped with fresh olive oil before serving. Try it at Vini e Vecchi Sapori (Via dei Magazzini 3r).
Crostini Toscani by Vini e Vecchi Sapori restaurant
Torta della Nonna
Translating as “Grandmother’s Cake,” this is a heartwarming favorite Tuscan dessert. It is a simple and delicate custard cake made with pine nuts. Try it at Trattoria del Carmine, in Piazza del Carmine near Santo Spirito.