Hollywould founder Holly Dunlap, who splits her time between New York City and Florence, recommends:
Do try Quattro Leoni (Via dei Vellutini, 1r, www.4leoni.com) for dinner; the fiocchetti pasta there is divine. Or try I’Parione (74-76R Via del Parione; +39-0055-214-005) where you must have the cheesecake for dessert. Stay late enough and you may end up there all night. Trattoria Da Pruto (Piazza Torquato Tasso 9R) serves the best fish in town to in-the-know Florentines.”
Florence is a city better known for its cultural venues than for great restaurants (many places tend toward the touristy). A wonderful exception is Alle Murate, which combines art and refined cuisine in one of Italy’s most unique restaurant settings. The Palazzo dell’Arte dei Giudici e Notai, a former 14th-century guildhall, has walls that are covered in well-preserved frescoes. Chef and owner Umberto Montano’s cooking gives regional classics a creative spin, and dishes might include bean soup with crayfish and crunchy sage; artichoke and cuttlefish stew; and orange-scented pigeon. Before or after the meal, you should take the guided tour (it’s available in English), which leads you through the candlelit space, from the ceiling frescoes all the way down to the ancient foundations.
Cantinetta dei Verrazzano
Hollywould founder Holly Dunlap recommends: “Cantinetta dei Verrazzano has the best wine selection in town, served with a zillion choices of cheese and delicious focaccia combos, like pear with pecorino and truffle honey.”
“This is one of the best-regarded restaurants in town and part of restaurateur Fabio Picchi’s empire in the Santa Croce neighborhood,” which also includes Il Teatro del Sale, says Florence-based insider Megan McDonnell, who cautions, however, “Beware: There is no pasta on the menu. Rather, soups, seafood and vegetable dishes shine here. Make sure to leave plenty of room for the heavenly chocolate mousse.” Cibrèo is also highly recommended by Indagare Insider Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Since opening, in 2008, the main restaurant in the Four Seasons has been a mecca for foodies. Chef Vito Mollica is a pioneer in Italy’s slow-food movement. The setting, inside a gloriously restored 15th-century palazzo, can feel a little formal, but Mollica’s focus on Tuscan classics keeps the whole thing grounded. During the summer months, book a table on the terrace.
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED
The announcement that the new restaurant of the private-residence club Palazzo Tornabuoni would be created by Silvio Ursini was big news. Unlike the palazzo itself, whose stunning rooms can be booked only by member-owners, the restaurant is open to the public and quickly became one of the city’s hottest reservations. The mastermind behind the Rome-based Obikà mozzarella restaurants (which now have branches in New York, Tokyo and London), Ursini has focused the Osteria on Tuscany: all wines, cheeses, meats and other ingredients are from that fabled region. The dining room is elegant, done in muted colors, with banquette seating and large round tables in the center, but the ambiance is sociable, and the love of gourmet food and drink is palpable. Diners who fall for a particular vintage or sausage can go to the wine shop and delicatessen on the premises to buy some to enjoy at home. Perhaps a touch too formal for lunch (try the more laid-back Obikà, also in the palazzo), the Osteria is a well-located, delicious new option for a truly local dinner. Closed Sunday.