An Italian diet is completely different from that of an American’s. There is a small breakfast, which usually consists of coffee and a pastry, whereas their other meals include fruits and vegetables, beans, lean meats, and small portions. Combined with a “passeggiata” (stroll through town), keeps most Italians active and healthy.
Due to the impressive amount of markets throughout Florence, fresh fruits and vegetables are not hard to come by. They are inexpensive and there is a vast selection to choose from – so cooking healthily at home is quite easy. However, it can sometimes be a struggle to find something that is different. That is, finding something other than Tuscan typical meals, pasta, or pizza.
Recently, Florence has been opening up lots of vegetarian restaurants, in which anybody can find something that they enjoy. One of the well-known vegetarian restaurants in Florence is “Il Vegetariano,” and I went there to eat one night with a few friends. The restaurant is off Via San Gallo on Via delle Ruote. Inside, there is a unique setup that is easy to get adjusted to. The front room is filled with tables, and the hallway leads down to the main room and the kitchen. Handwritten menus are given to you with the daily specials, which are tasty and always changing.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the restaurant is that it is self-service. You reserve your table by claiming it, and then you get in line to order your food. There are lots of gluten-free and vegan options, so there is always a dish for everyone. There is a “primi piatti” section of the menu, which includes dishes such as couscous alla tunisina, or riso integrale con pesto di cavolo nero. Then, there are other tasty dishes on the “secondi” part of the menu.
When you write down your choices, you give it to the person behind the register, where you pay and then get in line to get your food. The prices are relatively low due to the fact that there are no waiters, and the restaurant is self-service. The meal is prepared fastly, because all of the ingredients are prepared in advance. Also in the self-service area are the desserts, which were all very appealing and overall delicious.
Even if you are not a vegetarian, it is worth it to go to Il Vegetariano, due to the quality of the food as well as the ambience of the restaurant that gives off a very personal atmosphere.