La Buca dell'Orafo
Recently, a plugged-in Florentine shared one of his favorite restaurants with us. Just steps from the Ponte Vecchio, in a spot that was formerly occupied by a tourist trap, La Buca dell’Orafo (means goldsmith’s cave) attracts foreigners but is still considered a locals’ haunt. (It’s called a cave because it’s a below-ground space.) The chef prepares Italian comfort food like spaghetti with peas that Italians will swear taste exactly as their grandmother made it, but which you will never find on a restaurant menu. He also prepares some of the best steaks in the city. Many places claim to serve bistecca Fiorentina (Florentine porterhouse) but only a handful are actually allotted the certified steaks, which come from regional cows that are slaughtered at a young age to guarantee tenderness. (The owner here will proudly produce the certificates along side each dish.) Don’t be shocked if they seem cooked only on the outside; that is how they are meant to be enjoyed. It’s a simple place with white tablecloths and kitchen quality china. At lunch time you may be able to walk in, but at dinner you must have a reservation, and even days in advance, they can be hard to secure since locals have standing days. Late in the evening, the owner may plug in his iPod and invite diners to loosen up and go loungey. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Remember: They do not accept credit cards so come with cash.