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Trattoria Sostanza – Florence, Italy

I think this is my favorite restaurant in Florence.  I just can’t believe I found out about it a decade after I lived there for a year and that it’s blocks from the pensione where I lived.  Small, casual and far from touristy, I make a point to go here every time I’m in town.  The staff is no nonsense but friendly in every way.  The food speaks for itself.  The first time I found myself in the kitchen learning how to make the artichoke pie and the last time it was our friend standing in front of the stovetop trying to memorize their method.   Take my advice and definitely order the artichoke pie, butter chicken and the meringue cake with fresh berries for dessert.  I PROMISE you…these dishes will change your life.

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Osteria delle Tre Panche – Florence, Italy

For those that love truffles, consider this place heaven!  I have NEVER seen more truffles in my life!  First off, this teeny little locals spot is about a 5-10 minute taxi ride from the center of Florence.  Some have said they’ve walked but at night I would recommend the ride.  Reservations are a must and don’t expect to see any tourists here.  “Tre Panche” translates to three benches which is exactly how much space there is in this restaurant – it’s small!  It’s truly a hidden gem.

Because we were only in Florence for a few nights, we indulged in every meal.  We ordered way too much but I have no regrets.  There are definitely dishes I would recommend, and others that I would say you can skip.  For water, 2 bottles of wine (yes…we had 2 bottles of wine:)) and 7 dishes, our meal ended up being €148 which is about $192.  The truffle beef tartare was exactly what you would expect – a delicious starter to the meal.  The artichoke pie with truffles was very good!  Large enough for a group to share and smothered with truffles.  The cheese ravioli with fresh truffle was rich and creamy as it should be.  Not something I could eat an entire plate of but perfect to share with someone.  The cheesecake for dessert is a MUST!!!  It’s unbelievable!  I’m not even sure how to give it justice so just know that you need to save room for it:)  Truly the best I’ve ever had!!!

Dishes to skip are any without truffles…well, maybe that’s just me:)  As much as I love ragu, this one was over salted which was a shame because we probably would have eaten the entire plate no problem.  I would probably give it a second chance though.  The fried veal milanese was a disappointment.  It was pounded so thin that after being breaded and deep fried – you couldn’t even taste the veal.  I wanted it to be great but it was a definite miss.

Next time you’re in Florence, make this a must but shhh…don’t tell too many people about it!

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