Italy Report: Part II (Florence)
As I mentioned in an earlier report on our visit to Rome, you will want to know that we discovered that we prefer even a somewhat innovative cuisine over the most traditional kitchen. So here are our favorites and not-so-favorites from Florence.
Our first lunch on arriving in Florence was at Trattoria Croce al Trebbio where we enjoyed a risotto with bufolo mozzarella and grilled vegetables and a roast pork with a spinach (maybe it was an escarole or another Italian spinach-like green). Good. Simple. Not killer unforgettable.
As we found in Rome, one of the best recommendations was from Ms Chow: Osteria Tournabouoni. Located on that very high-end shopping street, the restaurant (reviewed in Food and Wine) is in the back. The food was extraordinary, but the prices reasonable. Yay! We enjoyed a raw artichoke salad and a cheese assortment, a tagliatelle with zucchini, mint and lardo that was a real wow. Would have loved to try to Beefsteak Florentine, but the two of us couldn’t manage a full kg (@ 2-1/2 lb) of beef between us. I had the dark meat of chicken thighs wrapped around a chicken confit. It was very rich, but delicious. Mr. CG had the lamb chops.
We headed out to have dinner at Teatre de Sale, but once we got there, they told us their entertainment was not happening that night and they sent us across the street to Trattoria Cibreo. After a 10-minute wait during which we met a very nice newlywed couple from Tel Aviv who were also waiting, we had a marvelous dinner. Again (and I know I keep repeating myself), simple, beautifully prepared. The restaurant is quite small and it made for patrons talking among themselves and a bit of a community, if not a party environment.
We had a wonderful lunch on the way from the Academia to the Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens. Over the river, take the second right, go under the archway and just past a large restaurant is a very small place called LeVolpi e l’Uva. They specialize in wines and we had a wonderful antipasti assortment that included crostone with cheese and spicy sausage and cheese with truffle soufflé. In addition, we had a plate with fresh anchovies, mushrooms, peppers, olives and asparagus. We each had a glass of Kemer Sudtirol ’08 that was excellent. Our waitress was friendly, helpful and knowledgable. It was sunny and warm and the perfect afternoon.
I have to add a word of praise for Grom, an organic gelateria that uses products from small local producers and produces the most extraordinary (often seasonal) gelato we tasted. I had a pear gelato that was like eating a fresh, ripe pear, only with a lot more fat and calories, but so worth it. Grom is a block from the Duomo and a half-block from our hotel (not necessarily a good thing).
What we would assiduously avoid in future trips to Florence:
Gilly in Piazza de la Republic – recommended by the newlyweds: overpriced, touristy and boring.
Trattoria Zaza in the Mercato Centrale – Not as bad as Gilly, but too busy with tourists, too expensive and not to our liking for sure.
Tuscany report coming soon.
Regarding your experience at Teatro del Sale, why did they send you away? The lack of entertainment should not have caused them to cancel dinner, unless they had to call all those who reserved to tell them not to come. Did they not offer dinner without the show? No reflection on Trattoria Cibreo (which we also like and is run by Picchi as well as the Ristorante Cibreo and Teatro del Sale), but we wonder why you weren't offered dinner at the Teatro. It is really an outstanding experience but glad you enjoyed the Trattoria.
Puzzling about the entertainment: did they say they had cancelled it or just that there was none scheduled for that night? I get weekly e-mails from Teatro and their entertainment is mostly Wednesday, Thursday, and sometimes Friday or Saturday. If they had to cancel the show I'm guessing that, since dinner at Teatro del Sale is by reservation, they might have advised callers about the cancellation and that's why few people were there.
It was a Wednesday night and it sounded like it was canceled. We had called the day before to confirm our reservation and they didn't say anything about it, but they did say to check back with them on Wednesday, which we did not do -- just too busy, I guess, and in our world it seemed redundant.
Turned out to be a great evening anyway, although I was a little annoyed that they sold us a "membership card" before they told us to go across the street.
Correction: to get to Le Volpi e l'Uva, when you cross the bridge, take the second LEFT and under the arch, not right. Sorry for the typo.
We also loved Grom, and thought that Zaza was too touristy for our taste. Too bad you didn't get to Gelateria I'Neri, the only one we tried that was comperable to Grom.
Wow! I live in Florence and I completely agree with all your recommendations - all great places! Le volpi e l'uva is one of our very favorite spots... Come to think of it, maybe I'll go for lunch today! Glad you found them all and enjoyed them all...