Florence Favourites Part 3: Traditional Italian
Part 3 of my Florence foodie finds (the final part) is dedicated to two traditional Italian spots that we stumbled across during our stay.
Usually when travelling to a new city, I go with an extensive list of cafes and restaurants to visit, but this time was different. I wanted to see where Florence would take us. It’s important to remember that ‘one bad meal’ isn’t the end of the world. Of course, we all like to make the most of foreign cuisine when we’re away, but sometimes places will let us down. Even those we’ve chosen to visit and go out of our way for can disappoint.
We spent many an hour wandering the streets of Florence, and mentally noted down the occasional place that took our fancy. We glanced at the menu, we admired the décor and we tried (and failed) to make a note of where these places were in relation to the sites. Then when it came to a mealtime, we’d make a decision on the spot. If we’d seen somewhere near by, that’s where we went. If not, we took our chances. Now I must admit, it was hard deciphering the good from the bad. We had a few really lovely meals, and a few not so great ones. None of them were awful, but some were definitely more memorable than others. I’ve chosen to tell you about these two little traditional Italians – SimBIOsi and Acqua Al 2. After visiting them, I popped them into a Google search and found out that they’re both pretty highly rated. It seems out sense for good Italian cuisine was pretty good!
So without further ado, here’s my favourite two traditional Italian’s from our Florence visit.
Part 3: Traditional Italian
6) Acqua Al 2
SimBIOsi is located on Via dei Ginori, a busy side street in the heart of Florence. It’s home to two restaurants, SimBIOsi Organic Pizza and SimBIOsi Organic Pasta. They have separate entrances and different menus, so you have to decide which one you prefer. We stumbled across SimBIOsi one morning during our explorations and decided to make it our lunch spot. After a delicious lunch, we made a point to return for dinner on our last night. On both occasions, the restaurant was busy, but particularly in the evening, so if you are keen to visit, I suggest pre booking to guarantee a spot.
SimBIOsi is an entirely organic (‘bio’) restaurant. Their ethos is to guarantee a higher quality of food and promote healthier nutrition, whilst also respecting our Earth and balance with nature. Having done a bit of research for this post, I discovered that all their ingredients bear the “allevamento etico” (ethical, cruelty-free farming) hallmark of quality, which guarantees respect for animals in the farming processes. There were also a couple of vegan dishes on the menu, a rarity in Italy. However, what mades SimBIOsi even more special was that they make their pasta fresh using only local products. You can also wash your food down with a lovely selection of local Tuscan wines. The prices were all really reasonable too.
Not only is the food all organic, locally sourced and delicious, but the place itself is also wonderful. It’s a charming little space with simple, but chic décor, gentle Italian music and lovely long wooden tables. You can either opt to sit on a small private table, or share the long wooden table with a number of others. Personally, I feel this really added to the charm.
For lunch, I had a delicious fresh salad with homemade bread, freshly baked that morning, my friend enjoyed a selection of their antipasti’s, and we shared a side of grilled vegetables. Such simple food, but it all tasted so delicious.
When we returned for dinner the next day, I opted for a plate of their freshly made pasta. A trip to Italy isn’t really complete without pasta, is it? A few years ago, I’d have shied away from a pasta restaurant. In fact, I pretty much avoided restaurants full stop. Not this time. I chose the classic “Spaghetti pomodoro e basilico’ – tomato and basil spaghetti, which I topped with Parmesan cheese and enjoyed alongside a side salad. Maybe it was just because we were on holiday in such a beautiful city, maybe it was the food itself, but I can honestly say it was one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.
6) Acqua Al 2
We stumbled across this gem for dinner one night. We’d ventured slightly away from the main square, hoping to avoid the tourist hotspots, and found Acqua Al 2 down a side street. The menu was entirely in Italian, so we had no idea what they served, but the restaurant looked packed inside so we took our chances.
Thankfully the waitress who greeted us (we think she was the owner) was incredibly helpful. She led us to a tiny table for two and helped us to decipher the menu.
We shared an appetiser of the most delicious fresh bread, tomato salad and house made bean dip. I then had a chicken dish with mushrooms and roast potatoes. The mushrooms literally melted in my mouth. I’d even go so far as to say they’ve among the best mushrooms I’ve ever eaten. And as I’d sworn to the waitress that I couldn’t handle cream or cheese sauces, she’d assured me there wasn’t an ounce of dairy in sight. I have absolutely no idea how the mushrooms were cooked, but they were incredible.
This restaurant is known primarily for it’s pasta and it’s meat, although there were a number of other options too. Although I don’t often eat meat, it was nice to try something different for a change. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Acqua Al 2 if you’re a firm vegetarian/vegan, but who knows, they were so accommodating so maybe they’d be able to make you something special.
Unfortunately it was very dark inside, so I wasn't able to get any good pictures. You’ll just have to take my word for it. This place is one not to miss.
Well there you have it - my whistle-stop tour of our favourite Florence spots. I’d love to hear your feedback about these three posts. Did you enjoy reading them and would you like to see more? Perhaps they inspired you to plan a visit one day? With a little more time on my hands I’m looking forward to sharing more recipes and reviews over the coming weeks so stay tuned – there’s lots more to come! In the meantime, feel free to tag me at @mylifeisforliving and use the hashtag #mylifeisforliving or drop me an email to let me know your thoughts.
Until next time,