Easily my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Florence, Il Vegetariano is a beloved longstanding establishment with two indoor dining rooms and one outdoor patio in the back. I waited in line for the restaurant to open at 12:30 with three local Florentines who were clearly regulars at the restaurant based upon the warm "Ciaos!" and cheek-kissing that ensued when the waitress opened the front door.
The service is a bit confusing. You write down what you want from the menu on a pad of paper, hand it to the man behind the counter, pay, take a tray, and stand in line at the salad bar for your food which you take back to a table already complete with a basket full of whole grain bread, eat, and leave your dirty plates for the waiters. Even though I had read about these daunting instructions beforehand, I still found myself a bit naive in the whole process (perhaps because of my terrible grasp of the Italian language, though the staff does speak English).
My favorite aspect of Il Vegetariano is that the menu changes everyday and is clearly marked with vegan selections, plus they have a quite extensive salad bar. The vegan entree on the day I sampled the restaurant was an indian-inspired plate of red lentil dahl, basmati rice, and stewed vegetables. Delicious. The only downside was that the rice was white, not brown, so I left it uneaten on the plate and replaced it with the whole grain bread. I also started with a salad from the bar, which boasts a wide array of raw vegetables (carrots, cherry tomatoes, arugula, mixed greens, etc.), and cooked vegetables (steamed cauliflower, roasted eggplant, onions, peppers, zucchini, etc.), plus you can opt for a dollop of tangy tofu dressing which I happily partook in.
I look forward to my next eating experience at Il Vegetariano.
See pictures and more restaurant reviews at my blog: http://farmersmarketvegan.wordpress.com/