January 24, 2014 7:29 pm

Five of the best: Florence lunches

Escape to these tables for midday refreshment and delicious Florentine specialities
Cibreo Ristorante

Cibreo Ristorante

Zoe Bar

Zoe is on the southern side of the Arno river, a little out of the way but well worth the trip. The design is minimalist and modern with an open kitchen. Lunch is always busy, with a number of large, tasty salads making a change from the meat-heavy Tuscan tradition. Crunchy raddichio was tossed with speck and Caprino, a creamy goat-milk cheese rolled in herbs, followed by fresh tagliata with porcini mushrooms. The coffee ice cream that rounded off the meal was divine. Prices are reasonable and the atmosphere lively.

Via dei Renai 13, 50125; +39 055 243 111; zoebar.it

Cantinetta Antinori

Antinori is located on the ground floor of the splendid Palazzo Antinori. It is a proper, traditional Tuscan trattoria – complete with long wooden tables for elbow-to-elbow dining. The food (textbook versions of Florentine standards such as ribollita soup or tagliata steak) and the attentive service are a notch above the usual trattoria standard. So is the very chic, very twinset clientele. Beef with roast potatoes came with a crisp, well-dressed Caprese salad. Prosecco is served ice-cold in carafes, while the strong and delicious coffee comes with home-made biscotti.

Piazza Antinori 3 (Via Tornabuoni), 50123; +39 055 292 234; cantinetta-antinori.com

Trattoria Mario

Locals love this place for, among other Tuscan favourites, its thick, hearty bean soup, served with home-made focaccia and drizzled with deep green olive oil. If you are coming for lunch, have a very early, light breakfast, because after midday it will be heaving with regulars. I had a gloriously sticky beef stew to follow my soup and was too full even for coffee. Tables are communal, and this is not a place to linger. Make sure you bring cash.

Via Rosina 2r, 50123; +39 055 218 550; trattoria-mario.com

Casalinga

This is one of the best, and cheapest, trattorias in Florence. A huge plate of Florentine speciality bollito misto – fragrant meat glistening in its own juices – was served with salsa verde (a green sauce spiked with capers). To follow I enjoyed some chunks of crumbly parmesan with fruit, then a yellowing, aged grappa.

Via dei Michelozzi 9r, 50125; +39 055 218 624; trattorialacasalinga.it

Cibreo Ristorante

There is no menu and no pasta served in this somewhat hedonistic restaurant. I enjoyed oxtail, cheese with Elba honey, and cake with Sicilian lemon, with a glass of Brunello di Montalcino. Prices are on the high side but so is the quality. This restaurant takes the seasons and its suppliers seriously and the food is as spankingly fresh as can be.

Via del Verrocchio, 8r, 50122; +39 055 234 11 00; edizioniteatrodelsalecibreofirenze.it

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douglas coupland

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