Tasting menus, signature dishes and fine dining. What more do you need? In Florence, you’re going to want your perfectly presented plates within ambling distance of the Santa Croce. And, for the most part, you’re in luck. We’ve mulled over the best Michelin menus from restaurants in Florence to point you towards the city’s stellar dining spots. And, we’ve brought you a hidden gem that’s within touching distance of a coveted star. Because if there’s anything finer than a Michelin meal, it’s finding the best restaurants before they get booked up for months.
Enoteca Pinchiorri ***
Critics, diners, gastro-fiends and fashionistas will all point towards Enoteca Pinchiorri as THE place to eat in Florence. And, well, it’s not a bad shout. But for a £200 meal, you’re going to need a little more convincing. The 3 Michelin stars help. As does the globally-envied wine cellar (valued at a cool £85 million) and the palatial setting. But bragging rights only get you so far. And, while the menu here certainly deserves its 3 stars… it’s not quite as innovative as some foodies may hope for. If you like your traditional Michelin experiences, Enoteca Pinchiorri, can’t be faulted. Service is always on point – with even the odd appearance from Mr Pinchiorri to add that special touch.
As for the menu? The appearance of snails on the 8 dish discovery menu could be a little off putting. In that case, opt for the 5 dish version which is low on snails and bursting with roast loin of lamb, popcorn pudding and steamed coffee meringue.
Orbzii tip: You’ll not find Enoteca’s wine cellar on any Florence wine tours. Make the most of your booking – and your sommelier – by trying one – or two – of their best tipples. They have quite the collection!
Il Palagio *
From the dark and moody confines of the regal Enoteca Pinchiorri, we flit immediately to the bright and airy contrasts of the Il Palagio dining room. Fear not, there’s still a pleasing number of chandeliers to leave you in no doubt of the quality of experience you’re about to achieve. But everything is that touch lighter. Including the bill. Which may seem trifling when you’re looking down the barrel of a multi-course Michelin experience. But, sometimes the subject of value for money needs to be broached. Contemporary in every aspect, the menu is awash with foodie buzzwords. Local, organic and bioactive dishes please the palate. And familiar, but tweaked Italian classics are a welcome treat.
La Bottega del Buon Caffè *
Few diners in Florence would be surprised to find themselves seated under a chandelier in a grand, opulent, and dare we say it, palatial, setting. So when La Bottega del Buon Caffè threw open their urban and contemporary doors, gasps were audible. Very much breaking the Florence mold when it comes to dishes and decor – though, the flavours happily remain very much on point. You might question the merits of presenting a course on a recently sawn log – but this is the modest price to pay for the food experience here. Yes, they’ve taken their farm-to-table stance a little too far, but innovation is much needed in Florence’s Michelin scene.
Orbzii tips: If you plump for La Bottega, do pick the vegetarian tasting menu. Not for any moral or ethical moves, but for the freshly harvested produce from the restaurant’s kitchen gardens. The chefs work miracles with their lovingly tended crops.
Borgo San Jacopo *
We wouldn’t blame you for dining at Borgo San Jacopo for a very non-gastro reason. Namely, the views of the Ponte Vecchio. But Ora’s chef, Claudio Mengoni, hasn’t been slaving away over a hot pan of sea urchin risotto for all diners to stare blankly out of the window. His dishes more than compete visually, with plates expertly balanced with flavour and colour. Dishes are distinctly Italian – which seems to be the safe bet most Michelin star restaurants make in Florence. Borgo’s sommelier is on hand to help you through the eclectic wine list and the choice of two tasting menus will leave you with a possible flirtation with food envy. The only question mark over Borgo San Jacopo is, why does it only have one Michelin star. Surely a spot on the verge of earning another star soon.
Orbzii tip: It might be a little too intimate for a Florence wedding venue, but this is a spot that caters for private events. Worth considering if you’re limiting numbers for the wedding party.
Santa Elisabetta **
If we’re rating the best Michelin restaurants in Florence, Santa Elisabetta’s exclusive spot in the two star category makes it worth a look. Elegant and refined, the decor edges towards minimalist. Which really does leave the menu with nowhere to hide. Not that it needs to. Chef Rocco De Santis delights diners with menus for all appetites. Though, light lunches really only reel you in to take on the 9 course Chef Experience. Which at €199 is a perfectly pitched romp through the flavours De Santis magically draws out from the seasonal ingredients he champions. Take a table in the Byzantine tower of Pagliazza, and, if you’re here for the A la Carte experience, the house risotto with smoked potatoes, scampi and burrata cheese is a dish you’ll want to come back for.
Special Mention: Winter Garden by Caino
Before restaurants earn a star or three, they often take a place in the Michelin guide under the much coveted ‘Michelin Plate’ tab. A chance to dine at the tables where chefs are pulling out all the stops to earn their stripes… or stars. Our hot tip for a future Michelin starred restaurant in Florence? The Winter Garden by Caino. Tucked away in the kitchens at the St Regis Hotel, Michele Griglio and Valeria Piccini are luring in gourmet diners with a reasonably priced tasting menu. €110 for a very Italian romp through the courses. The setting? Even more regal and opulent than some of the pricier places on our list. Try the home–made green Tagliolini to get all the tasting notes and tips to recreate in pasta making class.