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Community Table from Epicurious

from Epicurious

Take your place at the table

If you ever find yourself wandering the streets of Florence in the early evening, one of the most satisfying culinary experiences you can have is the Italian aperitivo, sometimes also called apericena. From 7 to 9 pm, many bars open their doors to hungry Florentines, who rush in for a simple drink accompanied by a selection of Tuscan treats, usually served in the form of an abundant all-you-can-eat buffet.

Ever dreamed of sipping a spritz while munching on delicious crostini with fresh tomato, top-

quality olive oil and just a hint of fresh celery? Or maybe you imagine yourself with a glass of rich red wine and a plate of local snacks, such as pizzette, prosciutto crudo or the mouthwatering pecorino cheese served with sweet fig marmalade? Either way, you're in for a treat. Here are top 5 bars for embracing the Italian tradition of aperitivo in best style.

Kitsch (http://www.kitschfirenze.com/)

This is probably one of the largest buffet aperitivo in Florence. Every evening, Kitsch offers one of its signature drinks and a go at an amazing collection of plates that will keep you going through all evening and night.

For around 8-9 € you can literally stuff yourself with traditional pasta dishes, slices of pizza, plates filled with lean meats, grilled vegetables and other delicacies, or, on a lighter tone, Italian interpretations of couscous dishes. When it comes to drinks, I recommend one of their non-alcoholic fruit cocktails – it's always full of fresh fruit, perfect for finishing your sumptuous meal.

Bar Serafini (http://www.pasticceriaserafini.it/)

This one is a special treat. Usually open from the early morning, you'll see this place full of Italians sipping on their morning macchiato and having a bite of breakfast pastries. Lunch is a similarly busy affair – lots of people find it hard to pass the mouthwatering display of snacks, sandwiches and pasta dishes.

But perhaps it's the early evening that finds most people huddled inside the bar to taste their trademark crostini, pizzette, plates composed of cooked seasonal vegetables and first dishes, usually served cold. Great value for a relatively moderate price (for Florence, anyway!).

Zoe (http://www.zoebar.it/)

This small bar located on the other side of the river Florentines call Oltrarno is a great place for a quick snack before a night full of partying– the location is itself a great advantage. It's almost always full, but if you find yourself desperate and starving, you can always pop by its neighbor with an equally tasty aperitivo, Negroni.

What’s special about Zoe? Theme nights. For 7-8 € you can enjoy treat ranging from traditional Tuscan delicacies to sushi creations. Some nights are devoted to American staples – you'll find burgers, hot-dogs and french fries in abundance. Every night at Zoe is a surprise, but our favorite stuffed schiacciate and panini are always there to be savored just a few meters from the beautiful Arno river.

Soul Kitchen (http://www.soulkitchenfirenze.it/)

Always brimming with foreign Erasmus students, Soul Kitchen in just a few years rose to fame as the top place for aperitivo in the historical center of Florence. The buffet is not as abundant as in other bars, but it's the quality of the dishes that counts here most. You'll find simple dishes like pasta in forno, vegetables baked under a thin layer of tasty white sauce, as well as a selection of local cheeses – always served with bread and at least two different seasonings.

This is probably the best quality/price deal in the city since for just 8 € you're served top restaurant-quality treats. Once a week Soul Kitchen organizes a special apritivo devoted to a Florentine favorite – lampredotto. If intestines are not your cup of tea, pop in anyway – their famous pappa al pomodoro is simply divine!

Otel Variete (http://www.otelvariete.com/)

Located slightly outside Florence, Otel is the best place if what you're looking for is a delicious meal and a great party afterward. If you're a meat lover, you're in the right place – their aperitivo boasts a great selection of local hams, sausages and meats. Vegetarians should find a lot of options to choose from as well – grilled vegetables, mozarella cheese with sweet cocktail tomatoes or a selection of salads catering to every culinary whim and wish.

In the late evening, expect some top class entertainment with live concerts and dance shows – the combination of great food and music is what makes Otel a really special place on the Florentine culinary scene.

Eating in Florence is probably one of the greatest Italian experiences one might have – Tuscany is famous for its simple, but tasty cuisine, full of local ingredients, quality meats and age-old recipes that add to its value in the Italian cuisine. With less than 10 € a night, you try the Florentine-style feasting yourself every evening!

The article was written by Isabel Wiliams of Bizdb.co.uk

Isabel Wiliams

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I truly love eating. For me life has the taste of the food I love.