Tuscany, a region located in Central Italy, is known as being one of the world’s culinary meccas — although to truly experience the best of the destination one must know where to eat. To help you plan a delicious itinerary, here is my guide on where to get the best Tuscan food in the region.
Piazza del Vino is the perfect place for wine-lovers. Photo courtesy of Markus Mainka.
1. Piazza del Vino
Via della Torretta, 8, Firenze, Italy
+39 055 671404
A unique concept for Tuscany, this venue pairs food with wine instead of wine with food. Located in Florence, the Piazza del Vino menu is shaped like a map with culinary highlights from different regions of Italy showcased. Choose from their thousands of bottles of wine — which your server can help you expertly pair — or pour a glass self-serve style from one of theirs wine machines. If you’re a regular, you can opt to have your own personal mini wine cellar in their restaurant.
Photo courtesy of L’Officina della Bistecca
2. Officina Della Bistecca
Via XX Luglio, 11, Panzano In Chianti Firenze, Italy
+39 055 852176
Warning: This restaurant contains material unsuitable for vegetarians — although this becomes clear as soon as you walk into Officina Della Bistecca‘s downstairs butcher shop and view the see-through meat locker and cow legs dangling from the ceiling. Upstairs, Dario (pictured above) and his team cook up a variety of rare-cooked meat cuts — beef tartar, seared rusp carpaccio, bone-in ribeye, Panzanese steak and Porterhouse — which you’ll enjoy in a tasting menu style at a long communal table with sides like lard-smothered baked potatoes and Tuscan beans with olive oil. In between courses, staff hold up raw rib eyes and deliver passionate meat speeches, asking the question “To beef or not to beef?”. The experience is enhanced with unlimited wine, grappa and military spirits.
Tuscan-style ‘chicken under the brick’. Photo courtesy of Jessica Festa.
3. Ristorante Il Cavaliere
Via Gabbiano 22, 50024 San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Italy
+39 055 821 8059
The restaurant of Castello di Gabbiano, a 12th-century castle and vineyard and one of the first to make wine in the Chianti Classico region — traditional Tuscan dishes are enhanced with estate Sangiovese and views of the olive, citrus and grape rich hills. The restaurant itself is housed in an 18th-century brick farmhouse, adding a whimsical touch to the classic meal. Some dishes you may encounter include handmade pasta topped with white truffle, chicken al matone, pheasant pâté and roasted rack of lamb with black truffle. If you’d like to learn how to cook traditional dishes yourself, Ristorante Il Cavaliere offers an array of cooking classes with Chef Paolo Nucera.
Peposo Di Manzo. Photo courtesy of Jessica Festa
4. Il Rosmarino
Localita Castelfalfi, 50050 Montaione, Italy
+39 0571 890159
Part of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, an 800-year-old village with luxury accommodation, Il Rosmarino introduces rustic Tuscan cooking to today’s diners. Chef Francesco Ferretti focuses of traditional peasant cuisine with dishes like Ribollita, a hearty “reboiled” stew; Peposa di Manzo featuring wild boar marinated overnight in an infusion of red wine, rosemary, bay leafs, ground pepper and juniper berries; and my personal favorite, Pappa al Pomodoro, a hearty tomato-based dish that makes use of stale bread. Make sure to end your meal with some cantucci cookies and a glass of sweet Vin Santo wine. As is typical of Tuscan cooking, all ingredients are fresh and locally-sourced, giving you a true taste of the region. And if you’d like to become skilled in the culinary arts, Il Rosmarino offers cooking classes for 90 Euros ($116 USD).
Photo courtesy of Antica Osteria Da Divo
5. Antica Osteria da Divo
Via Franciosa, 25, 53100 Siena, Italy
+39 0577 286054
In Siena, no culinary trip would be complete without a visit to Antica Osteria da Divo, a traditional local restaurant serving Sienese staples like crostini topped with olive paste, Chianina beef, hand-made pasta, olive oil, and wild game — all used in simple yet flavorful recipes and paired with wines like the famous “Brunello di Montalcino” featuring the sangiovese varietal. Just as noteworthy as the food in this restaurant is the atmosphere, as the venue’s cellar rooms are carved into ancient Etruscan tombs underneath the famous Duomo, while the ground floor retains an intimate vibe with tufa, bricks and stone accents surrounding linen-draped, candlelit tables. Start the meal with an eggplant cake topped with a bacon-wrapped roast quail before moving on to the homemade pasta topped with a wild boar ragu or seafood potato dumplings stuffed with Potatoes dumpling with octopus and cuttle-fish. Next, savor a “Second Course” of roasted rack of lamb flavored with thyme and fennel or a rosemary potato-crusted sea bass. These are just a few of the many menu options.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Tuscany? Please share in the comments below.
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