Trattoria Mario - Florence, Italy

Via Rosina, 2/R
Florence, Italy
Tel. 055.218550
(Closed Sundays and holidays, and the whole month of August 2009)
Open for lunch only, cash only

Behind Mercato Centrale, there's a very small restaurant, but you can't miss it with all the magazine and newspaper food reviews plastered on the door and window of this trattoria. This place is known for its homestyle Tuscan cooking, especially the Florentine steak. Come early or be prepared to wait.

Ordering may be a bit hectic if you don't know what to order. There is one big menu inside on the wall, and one menu outside, so take a look at this first.

The restaurant is very crowded and the seating is communal. We sat at a table for 4 with another couple from South America. Then, in the middle of our meal, they finished, and a couple from New York replaced them and sat with us. It was an interesting and fun time to share our travel stories and food experience with each other.
Italian bread is no good unless you like the taste of dry cardboard. They bake the bread without salt so it's tasteless. I also rarely saw restaurants serve bread with olive oil and basalmic vinegar. Is this an American thing?
Bistecca alla Fiorentina is served rare with a nice lemon slice. They slice up the raw meat in the kitchen and bring it out to the customer to inspect and approve before grilling it. The hearty steak had an excellent salt-crusted exterior and a warm, juicy rare interior. This dish is good for two and comes with a side. I squeezed the lemon atop the meat and I savored every bite of the steak.
We ordered a side of french fries, but the last batch had just been ordered by the South American couple who sat at our table. (But they were very kind enough to share their fries with us when it came out). We ordered the fresh tomatoes instead that was nicely drizzled with salt and olive oil. Great balance to the hearty Florentine steak.
To refresh our palettes, we had the melon. (For some reason, my husband was craving melon and ordered it, sometimes with prosciutto, almost at every meal).
This restaurant was recommended by a friend who travels to Italy every year and what a great recommendation it was! The Florentine steak here was excellent and I would definitely come back here again. (FYI-There is a bathroom towards the back outside, but it is a hole in the ground. I panicked a bit because I thought the running water was going to flood).

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