I was on a budget in Florence and I couldn't believe the restaurants were charging 8-9 Euros for a plate of pasta with tomato sauce. Along with the service charges it wasn't worth the price. I tried to avoid waiter service restaurants. I found a few cheaper alternatives in self-service restaurants.
They're cafeteria like enviornments but with good cheap food. You choose your dish and it's given to you, and then u sit where u like for as long as u like and no one bothers you. When you're done you bring you're tray to the counter, and you don't leave a tip or pay a service charge.
I visited this restaurant in 2004, so I'm not sure it's still there.
Leonardo Ristorante self-service
Via Pecori, 5
They had really good risotto's and pasta dishes for 3-4 Euro's;
Meat and Fish dishes for 5-8 Euro's, and other dishes. I typically spent 10-12 Euro for dinner and I was satisfied with my dinners.
I also went to spizzico which is a fastfood pizza chain. You get 2 slices of pizza with a topping, Drink and a side dish (fries or potato
crochettes or rice ball) for about 7 Euro's. You also eat in their restaurant and are left alone.
I ate in a good restaurant one time during my trip, to treat myself, it was good but expensive.
You can't get a bad meal in Italy, but a meal leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I pay more than it's worth; afterall, its only pasta and tomatos.