Il Latini★★★

The line to get into Il Latini. (Photo by Reid Bramblett)
The line to get into Il Latini.

Dinner at Florence's Il Latini is a marathon feast of typical Florentine and Tuscan dishes that'll leave you wonderfully stuffed for days

Dinner at Il Latini in Florence. (Photo by TK)
Dinner at Il Latini.

Although a bit touristy, this down-home trattoria opeend by Uncle Narcisso Latini in 1950 has stayed genuine in the most important aspect: the food.

If you are looking for that archetypal Tuscan feast, the one that lasts for hours and has more courses than you can count, this is place the to make a reservation.

That said, even if you book ahead (and you should to ensure you get a table) you'll have to join the scrum around the front door at 7:30pm and wait until someone finds an empty space to squeeze you in at a sturdy communal table under the ceiling's wood beams from which hang ranks of prosciuttos. In fact, getting thrown together with strangers and sharing a common meal is part of the fun here.

There is a menu—somewhere—but most everybody opts for the unofficial set meal: €45 buys you a primo—usually ribollita and pappa al pomodoro or penne strascicate (in a ragù mixed with cream)—a helping from a heaping platter of arrosto misto (roasted meats) for your main course, plus dessert, biscotti with vin santo, and all the house wine you can drink.

Tips & links

Details

★★★Via del Palchetti 6r (off Via della Vigna Nuova)
(Santa Maria Novella)
tel. +39-055-210-916
www.illatini.com
Closed Mondays
€€€

Bus: 6, 11; 12, 36
Hop-on/hop-off: Stazione FS SMN (A, B), Piazza Stazione (C); Guicciardini (A)

Nearby...
General dining tips
  • "Pane e coperto" is not a scam: Nearly all Italian restaurants have an unavoidable pane e coperto ("bread and cover" charge) of anything from €1 to €15—though most often €2 to €5—per person that is automatically added onto your bill. This is perfectly normal and perfectly legal (though a few trendy restaurants make a big deal about not charging it).
  • Find out if service (tip) is included: Don't double-tip by accident. If the menu has a line—usually near the bottom of the front or back—that says "servizio" with either a percentage, an amount, or the word "incluso" after it, that means the tip is automatically included in the price. (If it says "servizio non incluso," tip is, obviously, not included.)

    Even if the menu doesn't say it, ask É incluso il servizio? (ay een-CLOU-so eel sair-VEET-zee-yo)—"Is service included?" If not, tip accordingly (10%–15% is standard).

    Don't be stingy about tipping, though. If il servizio is, indeed, already included but the service was particularly good, it's customary to round up the bill or leave €1 per person extra—just to show you noticed and that you appreciated the effort.
  • Tourist menus: The concept of a bargain prix-fixe menu is not popular in Italy. Some restaurants do offer a menu turistico ("tourist menu"), which can cost from €8 to €20 and usually entails a choice from among two or three basic first courses (read: different pasta shapes, all in plain tomato sauce), a second course of roast chicken or a veal cutlet, and some water or wine and bread. With very few exceptions, tourist menus tend to live up to their name, appearing only at the sort of tourist-pandering restaurants that the locals wisely steer clear of.

    However, a menu à prezzo fisso ("fixed-price menu") is often a pretty good deal, usually offering a bit more choice than a tourist menu.

    Then—especially at nicer (and pricier) restaurants—there is the menu degustazione ("tasting menu"), usually far more expensive (anywhere from €25 to €110) that is a showcase of the chef's best, or of regional specialties, and can make for an excellent way to sample the kitchen's top dishes.
  • Book ahead: For restaurants that I am truly eager to try, I go ahead and book a table—at least at dinner. I find that a corollary of Murphy's Law seems to apply. If you prudently book ahead, you are likely to show up to a half-empty restaurant and feel a bit like a fool for having worried about finding a table. If, on the other hand, you just show up at the door expecting to find a free table, the place will inevitably be packed and its bookings full for the evening.
Culinary tours of Florence
Italian dining phrases
English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a restaurant un ristorante oon rees toh-RAHN-tay
...a casual restaurant una trattoria
un'osteria
oo-nah trah-toar-RHEE-yah
oon ohst-air-EE-yah
I would like to reserve... Vorrei prenotare... voar-RAY pray-note-ARE-eh
a table for two una tavola per due oo-nah TAH-voal-lah pair DOO-way
...for 7pm per le sette pair lay SET-tay
...for 7:30pm per le sette e mezzo pair lay SET-tay eh MET-tzoh
...for 8pm per le otto pair lay OH-toh
     
I would like Vorrei... voar-RAY
...some (of) un pó (di) oon POH (dee)
...this questo KWAY-sto
...that quello KWEL-loh
chicken pollo POL-loh
steak bistecca bee-STEAK-ah
veal vitello vee-TEL-oh
fish pesce PEH-shay
meat carne KAR-neh
I am vegetarian sono vegetariano SO-no veg-eh-tair-ee-YAH-no
side dish [veggies always come seperately] cotorno kon-TOR-no
dessert dolce DOAL-chay
and e ay
...a glass of un bicchiere di oon bee-key-YAIR-eh dee
...a bottle of una bottiglia di oo-na boh-TEEL-ya dee
...a half-liter of mezzo litro di MET-tzoh LEE-tro dee
...fizzy water acqua gassata AH-kwah gah-SAHT-tah
...still water acqua non gassata AH-kwah noan gah-SAHT-tah
...red wine vino rosso VEE-noh ROH-so
...white wine vino bianco VEE-noh bee-YAHN-koh
...beer birra BEER-a
Check, please Il conto, per favore eel COAN-toh pair fah-VOAR-eh
Is service included? É incluso il servizio? ay een-CLOU-so eel sair-VEET-zee-yo

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Il Latini

★★★Via del Palchetti 6r (off Via della Vigna Nuova)
(Santa Maria Novella)
tel. +39-055-210-916
www.illatini.com
Closed Mondays, 15 days in Aug, and Dec 24-Jan 6
€€€

Bus: 6, 11; 12, 36
Hop-on/hop-off: Stazione FS SMN (A, B), Piazza Stazione (C); Guicciardini (A)

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