Brunch at Teatro del Sale

I love to eat at a place where there’s a bit of action (and interaction) in the kitchen during service, and Teatro del Sale is just the place for it in Florence. It is part of the kingdom of Florentine chef, Fabio Picchi, who runs four fabulous eateries all on the doorstep of the Sant’Ambrogio Markets. But rather than the more formal world of Picchi’s famous Cibreo restaurant, at Teatro del Sale, you get the good, no-nonsense food, atmosphere and entertainment, at a super bargain price.

Teatro del SaleTeatro del Sale

It’s a unique space, the restaurant is set up in an old theatre (which is used for shows and concerts in the evening), complete with red velvet chairs, high ceilings and wooden floors and walls. The kitchen is on display — when there’s no show on, it is the show! — and so are the cooks, who yell out in a sing-song voice (that way that Sicilian fish vendors at the markets do so well) when dishes are ready or about to be served.

“Acciughe fritte!!!!”

Or, “Mi raccomando fate piano!” — Advice from the cook to eat slowly, as there’s more, a lot more to come.

Teatro del Sale brunch - kitchen viewTeatro del Sale Seating

The weekend brunch is the specialty here and it is the main reason I come. More than ‘brunch’, which in the English-speaking world is halfway between breakfast and lunch, this is really simply a buffet lunch. There is a continuous supply of delicious side dishes served in large white platters, things like smoky eggplant, lemon-laced chard, cauliflower and sausage, chickpeas in olive oil.

Then there’s the thin, olive-oil doused schiacciata, which comes flying hot out of the oven and within seconds is gone — you may have fight people for it, but it’s worth it. Especially when dipped into little pots of whipped anchovy butter.

Teatro del Sale kitchenTeatro del Sala fusilli

Then an array of primi and secondi are yelled, one by one as they are ready, from the kitchen window and placed on the table where the waiter portions and serves to a growing crowd of hungry customers. Fusilli with sausage sugo, mezze maniche pasta with squashed tomatoes and anchovies, gnocchi alla romana, fried anchovies, grilled sardines, steaming vongole all’elbana in a spicy soup, then pull-apart, tender bollito, lampredotto with potatoes, and more.

Whatever you do, whatever you choose to eat, make sure you save even the tiniest space for a taste of the flourless chocolate cake.

The dessert, along with the free-flowing espresso, water and wine and is all self-service too and sits on a table near the elegant library room. There’s usually a bowl of whipped cream, elegantly small slices of rich, fudgy, smooth chocolate cake and pots for freshly made yogurt and cherry jam.

Teatro del Sale detailTeatro del Sale coffee stationTeatro del Sale dessert

How it works.

Teatro del Sale functions as a circo-lo, a club, so you need to become a member to eat here. It’s a simple process, you fill out a form when you arrive and pay a yearly membership of  7 euro for non-residents or if you’re under the age of 27 and 11 euro for residents. And this gets you entry into this wonderful place all year long (note, the year runs from 1 July – 30 June).

Weekend brunch gets particularly busy by 1pm and this is also when the majority of the freshly prepared food comes flying out of the kitchen. It costs 20 euro per person for a rich, unlimited buffet.

The weekday brunch is not held in the theatre, but in the library-like smaller dining room, which is a wonderful, intimate space. You don’t have the kitchen show during this time but it’s no less charming and you do have more personalised service — the waiter comes over to tell you what’s about to come out of the kitchen and brings you portions of whatever you please to your table. It costs 15 euro per person.

You cannot reserve. Check the website for the specific opening hours as sometimes they may have special events.

I do also love this description of Fabio Picchi and his restaurants by Peggy Markel.

For more ideas on where to eat in Florence, see my post A Taste of Florence (it’s an old one but don’t worry, these are still on my top favourites — things don’t change that quickly in the Renaissance city!) and Florence’s Lovely Bits. Also check out my friend Georgette’s (of Girl in Florence) incredible list of places to Eat, Drink & Be Merry in Florence.

Teatro del Sale
Via de’ Macci 111r
Florence, Italy
Tel. +39 055 200 14 92


  1. georgette says:

    I love how great minds think alike and we both thought to write about this Emiko! Your photos and descriptions are absolutely amazing, I’m going to add this to my post immediately! I’m so happy to have finally experienced the wonder of Teatro del Sale. Honestly, I am still thinking about that eggplant, what did they put in that, cumin?

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Always such an enjoyable spot with a group of friends (and I love how you don’t have to worry about a menu). I think maybe you’re right, cumin. So wonderfully smokey!

  2. Juls says:

    I’ve never been there, I must go as soon as possible! Great post!

  3. sabry says:

    Ciao Emiko, sometimes I have breakfast at caffè cibreo near Teatro del Sale that I know is a great place to stay and eat, but I’ve never been, I would like to enjoy that food soon! So you are back in Florence?

  4. Pamela says:

    Does everyone in a party of four have to become members or can just one person join and bring guests?

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Anyone can come along, though everyone in the group (above the age of 3) needs to have a membership, which you can do right then and there. For residents of Florence, the membership costs 11 euro (at the time of writing) and for foreign non-residents, in other words, visitors to Florence, membership costs 7 euro. Membership lasts for a year according to the theatre’s season.

  5. Lucy Lean says:

    We are coming this July – can’t wait to try – I am with my 12 year old son – being Italy I’m presuming they aren’t strict about kids becoming members but wanted to check if you knew? Would you recommend brunch or evening? And we speak very little Italian – but he’s fluent in French if that helps?!

    • Emiko Davies says:

      Don’t worry, this is a family friendly place, and someone will speak English so you’ll be just fine. My preference is lunch/brunch, usually the evening coincides with a performance as well so double check their website to see what you’re getting yourself into first!

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