Restaurants and
eating out

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Tuscany is famous for its food and wine, and there are literally dozens of fine restaurants, pizzerias and bars within easy reach of Ripertoli. There are traditional restaurants with hearty Tuscan fare such as Bistecca Fiorentina (a huge T-bone steak), an increasing number of modern ones with creative cuisine and inventive ingredients, pizzerias packed with locals, and everything in between. You can be sure of one thing – children will be far more welcome than in an equivalent English establishment!

Here are some of our favourites with our personal comments, which we hope you will find helpful. If you eat somewhere good which we don’t mention, please email us and we’ll add it to the list with you as the recommender.

Ristoro di Lamole, Nigel and Deborah’s all time favourite restaurant

Our all-time favourite is the Ristoro di Lamole (www.ristorodilamole.it). It’s about a half-hour drive away, at the same height as Ripertoli but on the opposite (south-east) side of the Greve valley; you can go either via Greve (tarmac roads) or Panzano (dirt roads). The owners are Filippo (front of house, speaks excellent English) and Paolo. The food (modern Italian), wine and presentation are very good, the view is wonderful, and Filippo is a superb host and knowledgeable sommelier. Tell him you are staying at Ripertoli – it will be worth it.

 

Restaurant Arnolfo – a 2 star Michelin restaurant in Colle di Val d’Elsa

We have a new (May 2024) contender for the best restaurant within an hour’s drive : Arnolfo, at Colle di Val d’Elsa, www.arnolfo.com.   This two-Michelin-stars family-owned institution recently moved into a stunning new location outside the historic city centre, but retains its informal and friendly ambience despite the magnificent setting and (it must be said) high prices;   expect to pay over 250 Euros a head, but the level of  cuisine, service, wine expertise and atmosphere justifies the cost. We will save up & go again !

The Cantinetta di Rignana, a traditional Tuscan restaurant specialising in hearty roasts and large helpings of pasta.

The Cantinetta di Rignana (www.lacantinettadirignana.com) is a traditional Tuscan restaurant specialising in hearty roasts and large helpings of pasta. It has a great view, serves its own wine, is very family-friendly, and is 10 minutes’ drive from Ripertoli. Turn left out of the drive towards Panzano and the right turn to Rignana is shortly after the left turn to Greve.

Villa Bordoni, has an excellent modern Italian restaurant in this small boutique hotel.

There is an excellent modern Italian restaurant in the small boutique hotel Villa Bordoni (www.villabordoni.com). It’s actually about a kilometer east of Ripertoli as the crow flies, but easiest to find from Greve or by turning left to San Cresci (dirt road) before Montefioralle on the way down to Greve. Very international ambience (Scottish owner), lovely rooms (our olive farmer Roberto Ballini’s wife is head chambermaid and gave us a tour), and very friendly.

Osteria di Passignano – a very up-market restaurant with an Antinori wine-shop attached has a Michelin rosette

Badia a Passignano (left out of the entrance drive, first right, and then a one-mile drive) now has several restaurants, all very different but good of their type. The very up-market restaurant Osteria di Passignano (www.osteriadipassignano.com) with an Antinori wine-shop attached has a Michelin rosette – one of very few in Tuscany, so we are privileged to have it on our door step. La Scuderia provides hearty meals with large portions of good local meat and good pizzas which may suit especially the young, though it is a bit overwhelming for us.  Bar DiVino (great name) despite its simplicity is our favourite; it’s run by Andrea and his talented wife Sylvia, who used to be part of Marisa’s team at Ripertoli but is clearly fulfilling more of her talents as a cook. We go for a sandwich lunch and a bottle of house rose; we’ve been there several times in May 2024,   and we love the atmosphere, the views and the food and local wine.

La Castellana is a small family-run place with typical Tuscan food cooked to order

La Castellana (www.ristorante-lacastellana.it) is at Montefioralle, on the road down to Greve, on the right just after the single-alternate-way section controlled by traffic lights. It’s a small family-run place with typical Tuscan food cooked to order. A recent guest felt it was the most genuine food they had eaten in Tuscany.

Enoteca Baldi a wine shop and small restaurant in the centre of Panzano.

In Panzano Mimmo and Arianna Baldi now run a wine shop and small restaurant called Enoteca Baldi in the centre of Panzano, in the square off the Via Chiantigiana. Mimmo is a world-class chef who tired of running a serious restaurant but loves running a friendly bustling local bar with a great atmosphere. Arianna & Mimmo speak excellent English & are friends of many years – their daughters used to work at London’s River Café. There are several restaurants in Panzano associated with the hugely popular and touristy business of Dario Cecchini. Since he is a butcher it is all about meat and that doesn’t suit us but there is a leaflet on the notice board if you are interested.

Trattoria del Pesce in Bargino – If you like fish & shellfish this is the restaurant to visit.

If you like fish & shellfish, the Trattoria del Pesce in Bargino is superb. A local friend said to us “If a restaurant is on a main road with no view and is always full of locals, you can be sure the cooking is good” and he is absolutely right ! There are rarely any tourists, and the fish, shellfish and wine list are wonderful. It’s just past the big new Antinori winery on the SS2 beside the Firenze – Siena Raccordo. The background music is usually jazz – another plus.

La Piazza, another modern restaurant where you eat in the open air in summer.

Two miles south of Panzano there is a right turn to La Piazza, (www.osteriaallapiazza.com) where there is another modern restaurant where you eat in the open air in summer. We had an excellent meal there in May 2012 and were struck by the good value, especially when it came to wine where the list of local wine was extensive and prices modest.

Il Cavaliere at Castello di Gabbiano, a local modern Italian restaurant set in the grounds of the wine making estate of Gabbiano.

Il Cavaliere at Castello di Gabbiano, (www.ilcavalieredigabbiano.it) is a local modern Italian restaurant set in the grounds of the wine making estate of Gabbiano. A new team took over the restaurant in 2021 and there’s a much more creative menu. When we ate there in May 2024 we found the service friendly, the food good, enjoyed their estate wine which is good value, and noticed that everyone else dining there were locals – a good sign.

The Gallo Nero in Greve

We hardly ever eat in Greve itself, as the country restaurants have much better views and Greve has so many tourists that the restaurants have it relatively easy. The Gallo Nero at the traffic lights by the entrance into the main piazza is our favourite; it had a big makeover a few years ago and tempted a new chef to join them (from Villa Bordoni) who has made the menu much more creative. We have eaten there twice in 2024 and plan to return; it’s mostly frequented by locals. Our other Greve favourite in 2024 is GiaBar, giabar.com run by brilliant cheese-stall-owner Giacomo and his partner Barbara, an excellent cook whose English is unsurprisingly perfect as she was born in Crawley, Sussex ! A place for a drink & a solid snack rather than a full meal; both will be excellent and you can take superb cheese home with you as well.

The macchiato and ice cream in the Bar Lepanto in the main piazza are unbeatable – eat your heart out Starbucks!

Pizza ! Not our favourite food, but lots of people do, so here’s what we know.  Lots of people love the atmosphere at  “La Cantina” at the north end of Via Roma in Greve (by the shoe supermarket); owner Alessandro is a king-size personality, it’s always heaving, and the trompe l’oeil paintings and ceiling in the inner room  are worth the visit for themselves. The pizza is OK too.   We are told the best pizza in Greve is at Caffe Le Logge in the piazza but we haven’t tried it yet; we enjoyed eating at the Casa del Popolo in 2023 (by the 2-storey car park) and Nigel thought the pizza was good.  The best pizza we remember eating a decade ago (and locals tell us that it’s still excellent) was at Lo Spela in Il Ferrone, lospela.it . If you want good pizza, go there; if you want a fun noisy atmosphere, go to La Cantina.

Badia a Coltibuono just outside Gaiole

Badia a Coltibuono just outside Gaiole, www.badia-a-coltibuono.com is a famous winery with another good traditional restaurant and a shop where you can buy their own wines, honey, and olive oil.

Harry’s Bar, which is patronized equally by visitors and posh Florentines; the food is very good, as is the air-conditioning.

Florence of course has many excellent restaurants. In summer we like lunch in Harry’s Bar (www.harrysbarfirenze.it), which is patronized equally by visitors and posh Florentines; the food is very good, as is the air-conditioning. Cantinetta Antinori is also very good. The debate over the best ice-cream parlour continues – we think Perche No (Why Not, www.percheno.firenze.it), just north of the Piazza Signoria, is best for fruit sorbets, and Vivoli (near Santa Croce, (www.vivoli.it) for creamy ices.