Food in Florence: the meat tradition

While there’s no shortage of delicious meat dishes in Italy, the food in Florence is particularly appealing to those with more carnivorous tastes. There’s a rich tradition of meat in Tuscany, from the famous Florentine steak (bistecca alla fiorentina) to a variety of dishes made with boar (cinghiale). One of the pleasures of exploring Italy is trying the traditional dishes in each city – pizza in Naples, carbonara in Rome, tortellini in Bologna – so when in Florence, make sure you sample the meat!

The meat dishes you must try in Florence

Food in Florence florentine meat steak
The florentine steak

After the art, the undisputed highlight of Florence is the cuisine. Start with the bistecca alla fiorentina, a gigantic T-bone steak that generally comes from the famous Tuscan Chianina cattle. These steaks are renowned for their rich flavour and tenderness, and are always served rare. They’re also huge, so before you order one, make sure you’ve worked up an appetite, and have someone to share your steak with! You’ll pay a fixed price for a kilo; expect to pay at least 40 for a kilo of steak.

Food in Florence pasta sauce boar meat
Pappardelle with boar meat sauce

Wild boar roam the Tuscan countryside, but their numbers are controlled during the hunting season from November to January. As well as providing a hobby for hunters, boar are also an ingredient in some of the most loved Tuscan dishes such as pappardelle al ragù di cinghiale (homemade pasta with a rich sauce made of boar meat) and spezzatino di cinghiale (a substantial main course, often served with polenta).

Food in Florence the meat tradition 1
Panino con lampredotto

It may surprise you to know that some of the best food in Florence is tripe, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it…Trippa alla fiorentina can be found on the menu in most restaurants in Florence – the pieces of tripe are cooked with garlic and herbs, and served up piping hot, with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Meat-lovers looking for a true taste of Florence should also try lampredotto, a dish made of cow’s stomach. It’s often used as a sandwich filling, so keep an eye out in street markets or tiny sandwich shops tucked away in side streets.

Which wine?

The classic wine pairing for red meat is Chianti; try Riserva di Famiglia, a ruby red wine with hints of spices. You can’t go wrong with a good glass of Chianti, but the ideal pairings depend on the age of the wine. Try young Chiantis with meaty pasta dishes or salumi, and aged Chiantis with steak. Another excellent red wine is Brunello di Montalcino, produced about 80 km from Florence. It pairs well with boar dishes, and also with ripe cheeses such as Parmesan, Grana Padano and Pecorino.

For an education in Tuscan wine and the best pairings, the ideal experience is a tour of the vineyards in Tuscany – you can sip a glass of Chianti or Montepulciano while overlooking the rolling hills and cypresses, enjoying the best wine and food in Florence.

Where to eat the best food in Florence

  • Trattoria Sergio Gozzi (Piazza di San Lorenzo 8R) is the perfect choice for a good value meal, serving steak and a range of tasty meat dishes. Only open at lunch.
  • Trattoria I due G (Via Bernado Cennini 6/r) is ideal if you’ve a train to catch, or have just arrived at Santa Maria Novella station. Very authentic and popular with locals.
  • Osteria dell’Enoteca (Via Romana 70/r) was originally a wine bar but is now a steakhouse and upscale restaurant. The wine list, as you would expect, is superb.
  • The Cut Steakhouse (Piazza Nazario Sauro 4) is located across the river in the Oltrarno district, and is one of Florence’s top-rated new restaurants. Not cheap, but the quality of the steak is excellent.
  • Antica Trattoria Tre Soldi (Via Gabriele d’Annunzio 4r/a) is a little off the beaten path, but worth the walk, offering traditional dishes with some innovative twists. Try the ‘tagliata tre soldi’.

For more tips on what to eat (and where to eat) in Italy, contact Roads to Rome Private Tours!

Read more: 15 foods you must try in Florence (The Culture Trip)