Eating Non-Italian Food in Italy

By Samantha Hesler, FFE 2015-16

Pizza, pasta, and gelato, oh my! Upon arriving in Italy students will be able to experience world class Italian cuisine. Pasta pomodoro, pizza Margherita, risotto, tortellini, and endless flavors of gelato become the staples of a student’s diet. Fresh tomatoes and basil cover practically everything and it is all delicious. However, as with any cuisine, there comes a point in our lives when we get sick of it. The hankerings for Mexican food, french fries, and milkshakes become very real, especially during exam week.  Below is a list of recommendations to satisfy every type of craving.

Mexican:

1.) Eby’s

Eby’s bar is a hidden gem for Mexican food. The bar, located by Lion’s Fountain, is great for those who want Mexican on a budget. They are famous for their artful shots but there is so much more to it than that. Eby’s offers a nice range of Mexican food, from empanadas to nachos. The nachos are covered in cheese and topped with guacamole. Yes, you read that right — they have guacamole!  The quesadillas are a must-have. Flaky warm tortillas are filled with chicken, cheese, and beans and are topped with a thin drizzle of sour cream. It is important to note that Eby’s only accepts cash!

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2.) l’Margaritaio

This place is a bit of a hike but it is well worth it. Hidden in the streets of Via dell’ Anguillara, l’Margaritaio is home to delicious variations of nachos and margaritas. Margaritas, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, are only four dollars every day during happy hour (5:30-8:30) and range in flavor from pear to pineapple. There is a long list of Mexican foods to choose from that includes quesadillas (both meat and veggie) and nachos ranging from plain to chill con carne. This place is difficult to find on your own the first time so make sure you look it up ahead of time.

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Asian:

1.) Tang

There are many great Asian places in Florence, but my favorite is Tang. Tang is located around the corner from our apartments making it a very convenient place for a meal. The food is very inexpensive. They have fried noodles, dumplings, and pineapple chicken, ensuring there is something for even the pickiest of eaters. The best part about Tang is that takeout is ready quickly, making it a very easy dinner option!

American:

1.) The Diner

This restaurant is one of my favorite special treats in Florence. The Diner is run by Italian-Americans living in Florence, ensuring that all food is authentic. Breakfast is served all day, and they have classic American favorites like omelettes, pancakes, waffles, and French toast. Here you can even order a side of classic greasy bacon. The Diner also offers a wide range of burgers, salads, and sandwiches, satisfying any craving you may have. My favorite thing to order at the Diner is one of their incredible milkshakes. Unlike many “milkshakes” you will experience in Florence, this one has the thick malty taste of a true American milkshake and is topped with whipped cream. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and even banana. The Diner is reasonably priced with most items on the menu being within the 7 to 12 Euro range. This magnificent diner offers free mimosas in the morning, free coffee to students studying, and a student discount card where if you buy ten meals get your next free. The Diner is open until midnight and provides everyone with a perfect late night snack.

Breakfast and coffee :

1.)  La Milkeria

Home to white chocolate waffles, Nutella pancakes, and crepes, La Milkeria is the perfect Sunday brunch spot. They also have cappuccinos, espressos, and iced coffee, which is a rare find in Florence. Milkshakes are another one of their specialities, although they are not as good as the Diner’s. Sit and enjoy a quiet breakfast or afternoon tea in this quaint little cafe.

2.) Arnold’s Coffee

Arnold’s Coffee features American style coffee that is similar to Starbucks. Iced coffees, frappuccinos, macchiatos — you name it, they have it. Besides coffee, Arnold’s also offers a section of smoothies, hot chocolates, and gourmet pastries such as Oreo cheesecake. Arnold’s is amazing for American coffee lovers but beware of its high prices.

Snacks:

1.) Queen’s Chips

Located on Via Camillo Cavour just a few minutes from the Marist apartments, Queen’s Chips is the perfect destination for a study break snack. For just 2.50 Euro you can get a huge cone of French fries covered in whatever sauce your heart desires. Ketchup, barbecue, honey mustard, and mayonnaise are just a few of the options you can cover your fries with. The fries are made of fresh cut potatoes and are fired in oil and heavily salted (picture French fries from an American state fair). They may not be the healthiest snack but they are by far one of the best ones.

Miscellaneous:

1.) VVM Market

For those who prefer cooking their own meals but want a different taste besides typical Italian ingredients, the VVM Market is the perfect place for you. VVM offers a wide variety of food and cooking items from around the world and is next door to the Marist Italy program office. Separated by region, VVM has an Asian section, Brazilian section, American section, Mexican section and many more. Each section holds items that are unique to each country. In the American section you can find goods such as pancake mix, maple syrup, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Campbell’s Soup, and much more. In the Asian section you can find things such as Ramen and soy sauce. VVM offers a wide variety of things that may not be easily found elsewhere in Florence. VVM is incredible but its prices are not, so make sure you keep an eye on the prices.

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