Normally, you would never think of Florence as a place for vegetarians. This is a town known for bistecca alla fiorentina, grilled beef steak, sausages and other meat plates. Just a few years ago, eating out in Florence was not easy for those who don’t eat meat, but fortunately things have changed, and many restaurants have started to offer vegetarian alternatives.
Il Vegetariano is the first vegetarian restaurant in Florence; created in 1981, the name itself means ‘the vegetarian’. Today this cool buffet restaurant is frequented mostly by locals: Prices are low, portions are big and food is tasty. The attractive décor extends to a small outdoor seating space, perfect for spring days. The menu has a variety of options but the tortiglioni pasta with vegetarian ragù may be the best plate.
Close to the Great Synagogue of Florence, one of the biggest Israelite temples in Italy, Ruth’s is the official restaurant of the Jewish community in Florence. Ruth’s offers not only delicious Kosher vegetarian food but a cultural experience too: After lunch, you can visit the stunning Israelite temple (every day except on Sundays) and museum. But first enjoy Eastern Mediterranean flavors and dishes such as the tasty falafel, hummus, cheese-filled cakes or marinated fried eggplant.
This place was once a bookstore, but now it’s also a super cool vegetarian restaurant. Brac is very central and is also the perfect place for a nice aperitivo. Ask for their well-priced piatto unico which is not only a steal but offers three different tasting options for those who want to enjoy vegetarian gourmet Italian cuisine. If it’s not too hot, order a glass of red wine and enjoy it in the pretty courtyard waiting for your meal. Brac also serves brunch, so note it down!
A relatively recent addition to Florence’s celebrated foodie scene, Quinoa has a well-earned reputation for being one of the best places to eat a vegetarian meal in the city. Located close to the Cathedral of Florence, it’s not properly a vegetarian restaurant: Quinoa is known to be one of the best gluten-free restaurants in town, but the veggie options are abundant (remember to order the sformatino with vegetables). You can also ask for Thai or fusion options and, of course, their namesake quinoa. The design is modern, and you can eat outdoors.
Open just over a month, L’OV-L’Osteria Vegetariana is a new gourmet restaurant located in the Oltrarno area which offers veggie traditional meals. Laced with hanging plants, bohemian inspired decorations, stone architecture and a white marble wall, the venue has a rustic atmosphere: L’OV was previously a fish market. The first six menu items are fixtures, while the remaining items change week by week depending on the freshest available ingredients the chef find in the markets. There are multitudes of entrée options of Italian, Japanese and Greek origins. The Zucchina tonda ripiena di miglio con friggitielli alla fiorentina, which is round zucchini cooked with quinoa and served with sweet peppers and olive oil, is one of the best here.