The sign on the right says, it is forbidden to ask for the Florentine Steak well done. Perfect, sign me up. I knew I would like this place. It also doesn't hurt that the menu was posted on the wall; there is something so very likable about that. Something that says, "We are old-school. We hand write our menu, since it changes often, but not really more than a smidge, and so, when it changes we only have to change one." Or that's also how they keep things from being excessively expensive... there are other good reasons too, but it's rustic, simple, and nice. It was probably completely illegible from the far reaches of the room, but it is charming, yes? The menu. A paper placemat. Now pappa al pomodoro, this bread and tomato soup, is for me sort of mythical. Something to enjoy right where it is, and not something I can poke around for and find at home. Something to be savoured. It is something that really isn't pretty, although the basil does help, but it has a lovely perfume, and just warms you up from the inside out. Glossy, grassy olive oil just tops it right off. I liked it. A lot. Jeff ordered the mozzarella and pomodoro, and it was good. Not much more to say, other than it was typical, but not extraordinary. It is what it is, and that is very good. And very good, is why I would go back to Mario's. Everything is good, perhaps not mindblowingly super, but still a million times better than I hope for in most meals. Tomatoes. One thing I've noticed in Italy, is that even when the tomato doesn't appear ripe by the standard I would gage at home, they are actually perfect. The tomato might look a little pale, or a little grainy, but then you taste it and it's rich, flavourful, and like a tomato on the right kind of steroids - none. At Mario's they tell you that a bistecca is about a kilogram, so you can have it a little bit bigger or a little bit smaller. I ordered it a little bit smaller, it was extraordinarily hot, which we've found through Italy in the summer can sadly hamper our appetites. Here, it our bistecca to be was shown for our approval at 950 grams. More steaks on parade. Then our bistecca fiorentina arrived. A beautiful colour on the outside, deeply golden brown. The heat was very, very high - this does not take long to cook. I cannot describe to you how much better steak tastes when it is not overcooked. I hate to admit that I have virtually stopped ordering steaks in restaurants because they are so often overcooked, poorly seasoned, or lacking in flavour (too lean!). This was a very good steak - best ever? No, but still exceptional nonetheless. Patate lesse, boiled potatoes with some olive oil. I shouldn't have ordered this, but I just wanted some potatoes. Instead I was yearning for more pappa al pomodoro, and I still do. Including wine, bread, a bottle of sparkling water - lunch came to 47.50 Euro. In other words 50 Euro; tipping in Italy is completely different than in North America, or at least I have learned to treat it as such. Italy tipping advice. Honestly, I have heard many different versions of how to tip, or not to tip, with not to tip being the most prevalent I've heard from Italians (albeit this is different from those who also speak English): either there is a cover charge and that is your tip, or the cover charge is included in the cost of the meal. No one ever expects a tip, and sometimes someone almost chases you out the door with your change! I've heard to round up the amount of the bill, up to the next bill, and that will still be considered virtually no tip (depending on the amount due, and the type of bill). I have left a bit more of a tip, say 10%, when I have asked a question, or if the server's English skills were better than my Italian, or if I felt that someone went out of their way - for whatever reason. There is hardly ever an expectation of a tip, ever. To one Roman friend, we discussed what tipping even was for at least 20 minutes! The concept, in North American terms, was to him on the verge of bizarre. Keep in mind that these views are can be extremely regional, so in one little town the rule might be quite different than the next town 20km away...okay perhaps a bit exaggerated, but sometimes it feels that way! Cash is king too, so don't plan on using credit card for an entire trip to Italy, especially non-touristy small towns, and anything that is not a chain or a large hotel....this means most places take cash only, or certainly not to the extent of usage in North America. Wow, where did that tangent come from? If you go to Florence, go to Mario's. Near the Mercato Centrale. It's good traditional food, served at a good price. You'll get to mix with other diners at communal tables, and I wish you good luck trying not to devour the food across from you with your eyes.