You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food. – Paul Prudhomme
In Tuscany, there is a maxim that in order to eat well, you must head straight to the (natural) source. Our cuisine is part of our heritage and when it comes to food, Italians are acutely attuned to what is fresh and in season. If you use the freshest ingredients you don’t have to make things complex – you can enjoy them without smothering them in complex seasonings to bring out the taste, when there is so much pleasure to be derived in tasting its natural essence. This is the ‘secret’ of our Mediterranean diet and it is expressed with so much gusto in many of our outstanding trattorias and bistros. We have so many fabulous restaurants throughout Tuscany but there are a few in our opinion that stand out above the rest. Here are our top farm-to-table foodie recommendations.
Valdarno | Il Canto del Maggio Restaurant
Located in a small borgo in the Arezzo region is a group of until recently, crumbling stone houses which have now been beautifully restored including Il Canto del Maggio, one of the best restaurants in Tuscany (at least to us, Conde Nast and the Michelin Guide!). Here, Mauro and his daughter Simona serve elevated local Tuscan cuisine using primarily products from their huge garden. With stunning views overlooking the valley along with their warm hospitality you are going to love this amazing restaurant. Typical dishes you will find on the Canto del Maggio’s menu include a variety of locally-produced sheep cheese and homemade marmalades, and you are you haven’t lived until you try their duck eggs with shaved truffles served with asparagus.
Address: Località Penna Alta, 30/d, 52028 Terranuova Bracciolini AR. Reservations recommended +39 055 970 5147. Open Tues-Saturday 7-10pm, Sunday 12-2pm, 7-10pm, closed Monday.
Florence | Culinaria Bistro
Most people who visit Florence never make it to the Piazza Tasso area, partly because it is tucked away on the far end of the San Frediano neighborhood, not far from the busy viale. This area happens to be home to many Florentines, and we always recommend a stop here for some of the best foodie finds in Florence. Tops on our list is the tiny Culinaria Bistro serving food from a network of farmers who are all part of their ‘degustibus’ association who work tirelessly to provide the best quality products you can get. Inside an atmospheric red-brick room, this simple restaurant showcases the best of farm-to-table Mediterranean cuisine with a heavy focus on North African, French, Spanish, and Italian flavors. All of their tasty dishes can be easily paired with wines also sourced from small producers. My personal recommendation is to try one of the delicious ‘tajines’ containing savory slow-cooked meats mixed with fruits (such as beef, prunes and almonds)cooked in a earthenware pot.
Address: Piazza Torquato Tasso 13, 50124 Firenze. Website. They are open every day from 12:30 to 2:30 and from 6:30pm to 11:30pm, except Sundays (closed) and Saturdays only for dinner.
Florence | La Bottega del Buon Caffe
For a truly epic gourmet dining experience celebrating the farm-to-table philosophy, a visit to restaurant La bottega del Buon Caffe is a must. Now nestled close to the San Niccolo tower, it moved from its original location around the large boulevard around Florence to a more scenic spot and features the cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Antonello Sardi. The fresh vegetables come from their farm at Borgo Santo Pietro, and in order to see Antonello’s culinary prowess really come alive, we recommend selecting one of their tasting menus. Everything from the homemade bread to the fresh tortellini with artichokes and ricotta cheese on a turnip green cream is absolutely excellent!
Address: Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini 69r, website. The 6-course tasting menu starts at 95 euros a person.
Pontassieve | Fattoria Lavacchio
Located twenty minutes from Florence in the hills above Pontessieve, is Fattoria Lavacchio, an organic farm comprised of a restaurant, rustic rooms and self-catering apartments and an outdoor pool. They are well-known locally for their excellent organic wine and extra-virgin olive oil, and the ingredients in their kitchen fall under that same farm-to-table mentality. The restaurant serves hearty Tuscan food and has a lovely terrace used during the warmer months. We highly recommend booking them for important events such as Easter or even a wedding lunch. Go for their Cedro Riserva which is a Chianti Rufina D.O.C.G. recognized red wine with 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot.
Address: Via di Grignano, 38, 50065 Pontassieve FI, Phone: + 39 055 839 6168. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
San Gimignano | Fattoria Poggio Alloro
Another lovely gem located just five minutes away from San Gimignano, the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist towns in Tuscany. At Poggio Alloro, they take the concept of farm-to-table to another level, offering their guests seasonal and organic products coming directly from their farm. Lunchtime is a more causal buffet-style affair with various cured meats, cheeses, salad and pasta (washed down with wine of course) while dinner consists of a more elaborate fixed menu centered on Tuscan classics like ‘ribollita,’ a popular bread soup. Everyone eats together, sharing a long table in order to encourage a bit of mingling along with the meal.
Address: Via S.Andrea, 23 – 53037 San Giminiano (SI) – T. +39 0577 950153. Fattoria Poggio Alloro is closed on Tuesday evenings, except in August when they are open every night, reservations are recommended.