Florence is well known for its many culinary delights: bistecca alla Fiorentina, hearty ribollita, and savory lampredotto sandwiches. However, while it honors its Tuscan traditions well, it also has a surprisingly contemporary dining scene given its size relative to cities like Milan and Rome. My favorite example is the gorgeous Melaleuca.
Melaleuca is an airy cafe that is best known for its coffee, brunch menu, and pastries. Set along the Arno in the Santa Croce area it is just outside of the usual tourist circuit but it is always bustling with Florentine locals.
The bistro is owned by an Australian / Italian-American couple and the international sensibility is reflected in the modern design and menu. Chloé and Marco met in Cairns and then moved to London, working at and opening Aussie cafes there before settling in Florence and gifting us all with Melaleuca.
Let me start with the coffee, which is fabulous. From the roasts to the talented baristas and the presentation: come here and drink this. I always get a flat white as those are harder to find in traditional Italian bars.
And they go perfectly with the cinnamon buns. Oh, how I could go on about the perfect cinnamon buns. They arrive dripping with homemade frosting on a pan straight from the oven. They are pillowy, spicy, sweet, tangy, and simply a taste of home that I often miss. I get one every time I am in town. Craving a bagel? They have those too!
But the savory plates are just as good. This time, my husband ordered the ‘nduja chili eggs on homemade laffa bread.
I can never pass up the avocado toast, which this time around came with kale pesto and pomegranate seeds (the exact extras change with the seasons). You can even find carnitas! Oh, and as a side, the sweet potato fries are irresistible with the sriracha mayo on the side.
I know that most visitors on a time crunch in Florence might prioritize Tuscan fare but it would be a mistake to skip breakfast at Melaleuca, where the menu is based on using the area’s exceptional local ingredients as its base. They forage, ferment, and make everything that they possibly can.
Melaleuca doesn’t take reservations unless you have a group of over 5 people, so it’s best to come in by 10 am if you want to snag a table for Sunday brunch. Otherwise, be prepared to put your name on a list for a brief wait.
Visit the Florence page for other city tips!
Lungarno delle Grazie, 18
Open: Monday – Friday from 8 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm.
Featured image by Melaleuca.