Our Florence hotel concierge (Cosimo at Villa Tolomei) recommended Alla Vecchia Bettola for dinner one chilly, late October night during our honeymoon and it was just what we were looking for. The name itself means “The Old Tavern”, and it definitely has an old, rustic feel to it.
It’s not romantic by any means, with its communal tables, frantic energy and bright lights, but the food here was excellent and the unlimited red table wine was a fantastic deal (4 euros per person?). This is truly a place where locals eat, but there are travelers here, too.
Be prepared to exercise your Italian food vocabulary muscles or to ask a lot of questions of the waitstaff when trying to figure out what you want to eat. Some are very familiar, and some are extremely foreign (even to me, who grew up eating Italian food and going to Italian restaurants since before I could even speak). We asked for a few explanations of some of the dishes, and the waiters, while somewhat rushing through responses, were as helpful as they could be in helping us craft an Florentine dinner of epic proportions.
It was a gluttonous, glorious evening.
I wouldn’t recommend the meat platter as an appetizer if you’re a little squeamish because one of the meats is head cheese – but the other salumi were great. (Not pictured – sorry!)
Again, we were there during white truffle season, so of course I had to have truffles in at least one of my dishes. I was on a truffle-a-day diet, what can I say?
Pro-Tip: When it’s truffle season, get truffled things, and so on and so forth. The menu changes with seasons.
The fried zucchini flowers (Fiori di Zucca) were out of this world, as well as the tagliatelle with truffles.
The pappardelle with meat sauce? I want to say it was wild boar… but can’t remember. In any event, it was also a winner.
Luke had the meatloaf (the Polpettoni in Umido) , which was actually excellent (I normally hate meatloaf) and I had the eggplant parmigiana (Melanzane Parmigiana) as well. We like to eat well when on vacation. And we are serious about that.
I don’t think anyone could blame us for wanting some house-made tiramisu for dessert.
Fortunately, the all-you-can-drink house red wine went down like water… the final mark?
The food was definitely delicious, authentic, and reminded me of dishes my Italian family makes.
This place does it right: simple, but delicious recipes served in a no-nonsense way, larger portions and efficient service. The prices were reasonable, at about $100 ($111.20) between the two of us for this feast.
The wine probably had a big influence on keeping the cost so low, since it was basically all food.
How to get to Alla Vecchia Bettola:
We took a short, but hair-raising taxi ride from our hotel (again, the Villa Tolomei) down the narrow back streets of just outside the city center, just barely missing the old stone walls on one side of the street all the way down the winding, pitch-black road. Approaching from city center by taxi would likely make for a much less white-knuckle ride! You can also walk from city center, but I recommend a taxi there and walking back if you’re up for it, instead.
Alla Vecchia Bettola
Viale Vasco Pratolini 3
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday Noon – 2:30pm, 7:30pm – 10:30pm
Closed Sundays and Mondays
What’s your favorite Tuscan dish? Got a place to recommend for our next Firenze adventure? Leave a comment!