Prior to becoming a mother – when the hours outside of my workday were blissfully free of responsibility – exploring the local restaurant scene was one of my favorite ways to experience Florence. There was never any shortage of places, both old and new, where I could connect with friends on the weekend or unwind with my partner on nights when we were unmotivated to cook.
Unsurprisingly, with the arrival of my son in November 2015, I largely said goodbye to hours-long Sunday trattoria lunches and leisurely evenings of aperitivos turned multi-course dinners. But with each month that passed after his birth, as I became more confident in my ability to handle whatever diaper explosion or ‘hangry’ meltdown my son might throw my way, I began to dip my toe into the – occasionally harrowing – experience of dining out with a young child.
No matter what the age or how well behaved, having babies, toddlers and young children as restaurant companions will never be the same as enjoying a meal out with other adults or older kids. Often – at least in my mind – the temptation to say “let’s just skip it” is great. At home, it doesn’t matter if unwanted food is flung to the floor or if my toddler is so caked in tomato sauce at the end of the meal that I need to transfer him directly from high chair to bathtub. However, I’m still the person who enjoys a good pizza napoletana and birra artigianale as much as I did pre-child, and who also wants to share that experience with my partner and child. So what to do?
Enter the “family friendly” dining establishment. In my experience, Italian restaurants generally do an excellent job of accommodating families. Most staff and fellow patrons don’t bat an eye at the sight (or sound, ahem…) of a small child in their midst, and many go out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. Still, having a list of spots in my back pocket where I know I can find a highchair, maybe a changing table in the bathroom and – now that my son is fully mobile – a place where he can blow off some steam while we wait for our food to arrive, is often the incentive I need to get out the door. And hey, even if the night doesn’t go as planned, at least I won’t come home to a sink full of dishes! Unless they are still there from the night before…but I digress…
Here is a list, in no particular order, of places that I and other members of the Firenze Moms4Moms community enjoy taking our kids.
Fuoco Matto Pizza & Grill Restaurant
Via Ventisette Aprile 16 (Zona center – Piazza Indipendenza)
The ‘family friendly’ gold standard: highchairs, a changing table in the bathroom and a small play area with a couple of toys. Ample space in the dining room, excellent a/c to escape the Florence summer heat, and great food to boot – especially the pizza!
Telephone: +39 055 495140
Open 7 days a week, 12 – 2:30pm and 7 – 11:30 pm; Closed on Saturdays for lunch
Via Vittorio Emanuele II 21r (Zona just outside of center – Ponte Rosso)
While Pantarei does not have a changing table or play area, they have several comfy highchairs and boast a strategic location about half a block from the lovely Giardino d’Orticoltura, which has one of my favorite playgrounds in Florence. Most importantly, the staff at Pantarei is incredibly welcoming and have treated us like family from our very first visit. The menu is fish focused, but they also have an extensive pizza menu and a few non-fish antipasti, primi and secondo.
Telephone: 055474191 – 3808634762
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 7pm – Midnight; Open for lunch on weekends
Via della Chiesa 34r (Zona center – Oltrarno/Santo Spirito)
A favorite among expats and locals alike. This informal café is decidedly kid-friendly, with highchairs, a changing table and a ‘kids’ corner’ with games, books, paper and colored pencils for drawing. Food includes faithful reproductions of classic American bakery treats, bagels, American style sandwiches, quiche, yogurt and granola and American coffee.
Open Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm; Saturday and Sunday 9am – 3pm
Coquinarius Ristorante Enoteca
Via delle Oche, 11R, 50122 Firenze (Zona center – Duomo)
Great food and an extensive wine list. Highchairs available, as well as changing tables in both the men and women’s bathrooms. Welcoming staff. Extremely central location. What more do you need? Reservations recommended (it’s possible to reserve online through their website).
Telephone: 055 230 2153
Open 7 days a week, 12:30 – 3pm; 6:30 – 10:30pm
Via del Ponte Rosso 57r (Zona just outside of center – Ponte Rosso/Piazza Libertà)
This vegan café is a relatively new entry to the Florentine dining scene – and a welcome one at that! I’m not vegan, but everything I’ve eaten here has been delicious. They have a full Italian style coffee bar with non-dairy milks, smoothies and cold pressed juices, a divine selection of vegan cakes and sweets that my son loves for breakfast or ‘merenda’, beers and wine for the aperitivo hour, and a buffet style lunch and dinner service. Highchairs are available and there is a lovely garden area in the back. Staff are very friendly and welcoming.
Telephone: 055 0736316
Open Monday – Saturday, 8am – 10pm (summer hours)
Lunch buffet served from 12 – 2:30 pm, dinner buffet from 7 – 9:30 pm
Corner Viale F.lli Rosselli & Via del Fosso Macinante (Zona just outside of center – Porta a Prato/Ponte alla Vittoria)
Fosso Bandito, at the entrance to the large Cascine Park, has long been a favorite with Florentine families. This is a particularly nice spot to visit when the weather is warm, as there is a large outdoor playground on the premises, along with several small internal “piazzas” for open air dining. Fosso Bandito has hosted Buonerìa Restaurant since early March 2017. Excellent pizza napoletana prepared in four outdoor wood-burning ovens and a beer garden with several craft beers on tap. Highchairs and changing tables available.
Telephone: 055 365500
Open 7 days a week; Restaurant/Pizzeria open 12:30 – 3 pm, 7:30 pm – midnight; Bar open 8 am – midnight.
Via dell’Acqua, 2 (Zona center – Santa Croce/Piazza San Firenze)
Another favorite among U.S. expats craving a taste of home. True to its name, The Diner serves classic and tasty diner fare. For families, it doesn’t get much better than this – highchairs, a changing table, a play area and a kids’ menu. Extremely central location.
Website: www.thedinerfirenze.com (reservations available through website)
Open 7 days a week, 9 am – 11 pm.
Edi House Restaurant and Pizzeria
Piazza Fra’ Girolamo Savonarola, 8-9 R (Zona just outside of center – Piazza Savonarola)
An ample, reasonably priced menu, a large veranda for outdoor dining, highchairs and a kid-friendly atmosphere make Edi House an excellent choice for families. A good option in an area of town that is largely residential and lacking in an extensive selection of cafés/restaurants.
Telephone: 055 588886
Open 7 days a week, 12 – 3 pm, 7 pm – 12:30 am
Piazza della Repubblica n. 26/27/28/29 (Zona center – Piazza della Repubblica)
A good, conveniently located spot for a quick, casual bite. This cafè is located within the large RED Feltrinelli bookstore, which has an excellent children’s reading section with small tables and chairs. Just outside the bookstore there is a lovely carousel, and it doesn’t get much more central than Piazza della Repubblica. Open all day from breakfast to lunch, aperitivo to dinner, with a brunch menu on Sundays. Highchairs and changing table available.
Open 7 days a week, 9am – 11pm
La Cucina del Garga
Via San Zanobi 33r (Zona center – Mercato Centrale)
A vibrant, art filled interior and an interesting menu with many kid-friendly choices. Kids are given markers and encouraged to color on the white tablecloths – allowing parents to enjoy at least a few sips of wine “con calma” while you wait for your meal. Relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.
Telephone: 055 475 286
Trattoria Le Cave di Maiano – Fattoria di Maiano
Via Cave di Maiano, 16 – Fiesole (Outside of Florence)
A country oasis within a stone’s throw of downtown Florence. Trattoria Le Cave di Maiano has an outdoor playground next to the dining area, making it a top spot for children. A family-friendly and rustic atmosphere with traditional Florentine fare and beautiful views of the hills surrounding Florence.
Telephone: 055 59133
Fattoria di Maiano – Ristorante Lo Spaccio
Via Benedetto da Maiano, 11 – Fiesole (Outside of Florence)
Down the road from Trattoria Le Cave di Maiano is the lovely Fattoria di Maiano. Bring a picnic to enjoy on the grass next to the playground, or dine at their Ristorante Lo Spaccio. It is also possible to reserve an educational tour of the farm, which is home to many animals including geese, ducks, ostriches, goats, donkeys and cows.
Telephone: 055 599600
Open year round
Casa del Popolo di Fiesole
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 25/27 – Fiesole (Outside of Florence)
As part of the “bambini in circolo” initiative, Fiesole’s Casa del Popolo has agreed to make this local branch of Italy’s extensive Circolo Arci network child-friendly. This location includes highchairs, a changing table and a children’s play area. The Circolo features a full menu with extremely competitive prices and has a beautiful terrace overlooking the Mugello hills. The circolo is easily reachable with public transport from downtown Florence – take the number 7 bus from Piazza San Marco and get off at the last stop. The club is a 10 minute walk from there through Fiesole’s charming center. The restaurant/pizzeria is run by volunteers and thus open only at certain times of the year. Call before going to make sure they are serving!
Telephone: 055 597002