The semi-small city of Florence, Alabama, might not have been noticed were it not for sharing a name with a popular Italian city. While the name implies a subset of Italy, this town is really quite the contrary - although it's not full to the brim with Italian restaurants, it does break away from traditional southern cuisine.

The small city, which sits close to the border of Tennessee and on the shores of the Tennessee River, is one that's entirely worthy of visiting. Its restaurants, however, only make this offer even more appealing. When traditional, expected southern food goes out the window, Florence's best restaurants are whipping up an international flavor trip.

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Italian In Florence: The Pie Factory

The Pie Factory has long been hailed as one of Florence's top restaurants, serving up New York-style pizza south of the Mason-Dixon line. Since its opening in 2013, it has become a local favorite and one that has quickly gained momentum with those visiting from out of town. The restaurant itself features a casual vibe with a gourmet menu, which is pretty impressive when it comes to what one can do here with a pizza crust... which also happens to be made daily in-house.

Those visiting have options that range from truly southern, such as a pork BBQ pizza, to local specialties such as the Muscle Shoals Sound, which features hot sauce, pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and parmesan. Intriguing offerings, such as The Sink (literally, everything but the kitchen sink!) feature tomato sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, capicola, prosciutto, onions, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, banana peppers, asiago cheese, feta, and mozzarella cheese. Those who are a little less ambitious might enjoy The Babe (a meat-lovers) or Granny's Garden Fresh (veggie lovers). The Pie Factory also offers build-your-own pizza options, along with pizza bases of ranch, olive oil, and BBQ sauce. Not feeling pizza? Consider a salad, soup, wings, or a calzone!

  • Hours: Sunday - Thursday 11 AM - 10 PM, Friday & Saturday 11 AM - 11 PM
  • Address: 106 N Court St, Florence, AL 35630 (with additional locations in Muscle Shoals and Jasper, Alabama)

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Southern Food Turned Up In Florence: Odette

Odette has become a community staple in Florence and while much of the menu remains true to Alabama's southern roots (looking at you, catfish), every dish is modern and updated. The cuisine at this bistro is classified as New American with a southern flair, and it certainly delivers that on all fronts. According to Culture Trip, Odette's owner, Celeste Pillow, has been driven to create a diverse menu that personifies farm-focused, urban-style dining to match chef Josh Quick's bold and vibrant dishes.

If fancy food with a modern twist is what one is seeking in Florence, then Odette is by far the best restaurant to try some of the state's most prominent dishes. The restaurant utilizes local purveyors, including:

  • Bluewater Creek Farm
  • Two Brook’s Farm
  • Simmon’s Catfish
  • Oakview Farms Granary
  • Pillow Farm
  • Sonlit Farm
  • Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese

As for the menu, Odette is open for Saturday brunch and dinner, and both menus are serving up innovative and creative southern-style dishes. Southern staples, such as pimento cheese, are jazzed up with a complimentary bacon jam. A small plate of smoked gulf shrimp is served alongside a tasty remoulade, fresh citrus, herbs, endive, and a rich and tangy bacon vinaigrette. Fried Gulf oysters, grilled lamb meatballs, and crispy potato gnocchi are all mouthwatering additions for those who want small samples of each via the small plates menu section. For those seeking a full dinner, of course, the cornmeal-dusted Simmons Farm catfish is beautifully done, while other local options such as the Bluewater Creek farm cheeseburger or seared Gulf grouper sound just as delicious. International twists have not been forgotten when creating such a menu, either, as the Malaysian fried chicken is sure to be a hit.

  • Hours: Tuesday - Thursday 5 PM - 9:30 PM | Friday 5 PM - 11 PM | Saturday 11 AM - 3 PM &
  • | Friday5 PM - 11 PM, closed Sunday & Monday
  • Address: 120 N Court St, Florence, AL 35630

Sushi & More In Florence: Yumm Thai Sushi And Beyond

Not only is Yumm Thai yet another staple in Florence, but it's also located in one of the city's most historic buildings, the Rogers Department Store. While the building has existed since 1894, Yumm Thai is not nearly that old. The interior space of the restaurant features high ceilings with sophisticated, minimal Asian touches such as bamboo against white walls and furniture, giving the entire space an elevated and relaxed feel.

The menu at Yumm Thai features authentic Thai dishes that range from mild to (very) spicy, with a price tag that's far more affordable than many in the region. The upscale vibe of the venue makes for a unique experience, as a whole, which is what brings so many customers back time and time again. On Yumm Thai's menu, guests will find starters, greens, soups, rice & noodles, curries, Yumm Signature dishes, options from the sushi bar, lunch, and desserts. With starters that set off the mouthwatering with things such as potstickers, crispy shrimp rolls, firecracker shrimp, tuna poke, and Thai wings, it's easy to whet one's appetite in preparation for the main course. Traditional Thai curries, including elevated dishes such as Thai duck curry, are a great introduction to the flavors of Thailand; while Yumm Signatures include wok-tossed seafood with a chili red curry sauce, drunken crab, the Korean stack with grilled marinated beef, and wasabi-crusted filet mignon.

  • Hours: Monday - Thursday 11 AM - 2 PM & 5 PM - 9 PM | Friday & Saturday 11 AM - 2 PM & 5 PM - 10 PM
  • Address: 117 N Court St, Florence, AL 35630

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