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Lunch at Trattoria da Rocco

Guest post sent by Ree from Florence | Published : 25/Feb/2008 12:50

Trattoria da Rocco (Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, Florence)
The Trattoria da Rocco, inside the Mercato Sant’ Ambrogio is one of the rare places in Florence where you will still hear more Italian than English at mealtime. Everyone eats lunch here, from the occasional bewildered tourist to businessmen to construction workers. It’s open for lunch, from about 11 to whenever they run out of food. The market itself is wonderful and deserves a review of its own (in absence thereof, read our recent rundown of Florence food markets), so suffice it to say that the trattoria is the same size as the regular stalls in the market but it’s the one that looks more like a greenhouse. Don’t be concerned if you can’t find the door, there isn’t any. Simply open one of the windows/walls and slide into a booth and prepare for a cheap, simple, and simply good meal.

Trattoria da Rocco (Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, Florence) - Ree
You will probably end up sharing a table with a couple strangers, or at peak hours you might be squeezed six to a booth. If you come for a later lunch, it’s likely that the best menu items will be all eaten. So, timing is a key part of the experience – I always try to get there at noon and not a moment later. Also depending on the hour, the atmosphere can range from jovial to frantic, so keep in mind that this is what you’re here for, not just food.

The food, however, is very good, although it’s all prepared ahead of time. The good side of this is that you can see what looks good, and it only takes two or three minutes to get served. Recently, prices went up. Now, a first course (“un primo”), which might consist of Ligurian lasagne with pesto or my all-time favorite, a soup called pasta e fagioli (see photo) will now run you 3€, while a main course like roast beef and mashed potatoes (or the Florentine favorite if you’re braver than I am: tripe) will cost you 4€. Side dishes are extra, as is dessert (2€ I think) and the cover charge for bread and water. Another fun expense is the wine, which is served by the bottle. Don’t be intimidated about finishing it though, your waiter will just take a look at how much you drank and charge you accordingly. They also do hot food for take out, if you’re looking for a picnic but want more than bread and cheese.

All in all, this is one of my favorite lunch places in Florence. It gives you a glimpse of what it is like to be a local, and you will not go away with an empty stomach or empty pockets.

Trattoria da Rocco (Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, Florence)

Trattoria da Rocco
Located in Mercato Sant’Ambrogio
Piazza Ghiberti
Florence, Italy