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Trip Report - part 3 - Florence (long)

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I have already posted the trip reports for Venice and Rome, and still have our week in Umbria (Todi) to do after this posting.

Cavolo Nero - Tuesday
On our first night, we actually intended to go to La Casalinga. It was on my list of possible restaurant options and K also liked what she read on the Eat Florence app. Plus, it was close to our apartment rental, which was near Santa Maria del Carmine. So we walked to Santa Spirito and found La Casalinga completely packed, with people lined up inside and out the door. We agreed that maybe a reservation for Wednesday might be better than waiting in line, so S went inside, finally got the attention of someone who would take our reservation and we began to walk back toward our apartment. There are quite a few other restaurants near Santa Spirito, but we had also noticed Cavolo Nero while settling into our apartment - it was literally next door. We went back and were whisked through the dining room into a delightful garden area twinkling with lights and candles. I'm sure we all felt like our husbands should be with us in this lovely romantic space!

It was a remarkable evening from start to finish. Attentive and discreet service, food was beautifully plated and executed with interesting flavours and texture combinations, and the atmosphere was ethereal. To start, I had the rabbit which was served cold with a sundried tomatoes, black olives and a light dressing. I have never had rabbit before and wanted to try it - it's not the way I had envisioned as I expected the dish to be served warm and to be somewhat like a stew. Regardless, it was divine and I would certainly be willing to try rabbit again. K had goat cheese filled pastry rolls with black olives - it was rather like a crispy spring roll but filled with creamy goat cheese, with a tangy black olive sauce. S had the buckwheat tagliatelle with turbot fish filet, marjoram and cherry tomato. The flavours were great and the turbot was nicely cooked, but it was just a bit too heavy on the tagliatelle.

We all shared one order of the chef’s ravioli filled with ricotta cheese - there was just so much on the menu that we wanted to try, and we all enjoy ravioli, so this was a great way to sample a little bit more. The restaurant plated this beautifully for us, each dish looking like it's own perfect individual petite serving.

For our secondi, I had duck breast with lemon and honey sauce and caramelized fig, K had the rice timbale with prawn, asparagus sauce and parmigiano cheese waffle, S had something with crawfish, but I didn't write down the details. I don't normally order duck, but I'm so glad I did. Every bite was an amazing blend of flavours, complementary yet each noticeable. The duck was perfectly cooked, very tender, and the caramelized fig...my goodness! K and S were equally pleased with their selections.

We would have liked to have had dessert, but it was impossible! We left the little oasis and went back to the garden of our apartment rental, happy to be in Florence. With a bottle of a supertuscan (I didn't write down the name) and water, the total was 120 euro.

La Casalinga - Wednesday
We arrived for our 8:00 p.m. reservation to a bustling restaurant, though at least this time the lineup was not out the door. Seated quickly, we enjoyed the activity around us and watched the plates of food go past us. We ordered a bottle of chianti following our waitress' recommendation and we each started with a pasta, I had the ravioli bolognese, K had the spaghetti bolognese and S had the pasta suga della Nonna. This was my version of comfort food. We all then had the roast chicken and shared potatoes and vegetables. We ate every delicious bite, thinking this is what Sunday dinner would be like at home! We shouldn't have had dessert, but how could we resist the tiramisu?! We couldn't, and after dessert, we were grateful for the walk home, which was perhaps a bit too short. We really enjoyed Casalinga, so much that we made a reservation for Friday night before we left. It had a lively atmosphere, very friendly service, and the food was delicious in a homemade style. The total for our meal was 83.50 euro.

Nerbones - Thursday lunch
We had a great time wandering through the Mercato Centrale and bought some fruit, nuts, sundried tomatoes, and wished we could take the meats home with us to Canada! the lineup at Nerbone's never seemed to end, so eventually we got in line with everyone else. K got us seats and we all had a porchetta panini and shared a 1/2 litre of red wine. We were all just a bit disappointed with our sandwiches as they were just too salty. It was an interesting experience but I wouldn't return.

Le Volpi e L'Uva - Thursday snacks
After a full day of wandering, with an afternoon at the Uffizi, we stopped at Le Volpi e L'Uva for a drink and snacks on our way home. We each had a glass of chianti and shared the cheese and mustard platter. Every cheese was delicious and while we enjoyed the jelly-like mustards, the honeys that came with the platter were superb. This was the perfect respite. In fact, after this late snack, we didn't really feel like having a dinner out, so we made a light cold plate dinner at our rental with a combination of items that had been provided for us by the owners of the apartment rental and the meats, cheese, fruit and bread that we had been picking up ourselves. The total was 27 euro.

Zoe - Friday lunch
This was recommended to us when we were at Busatti's buying linens and it was good food at reasonable prices. We each had a pasta, either the penne with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil or the spaghetti with basil. While not special or outstanding, they were tasty and reasonably priced. With two glasses of wine and three small bottles of water, our total was 27 euro.

La Casalinga - Friday
We returned to Casalinga and were pleased to have the same waitress, who remembered the wine we ordered on Wednesday. We started with pasta, we all had ravioli with sage and butter. Didn't I mention earlier that we all like ravioli?! It was heavenly comfort food at it's best. I am embarrassed to admit that we then ordered another pasta. Yes, I know - we shocked ourselves. However, the lure of spaghetti bolognese and spaghetti carbonara was too much to resist. We were happy...even if we were embarrassed! We went on to have the tiramisu again and we had a leisurely walk home. With the wine, water and a salad, the total was 76 euro. K has already begun trying to replicate the bolognese sauce.

Thanks to everyone who provides trip reports and those who provide advice and comments. These boards were a great resource!

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Cavolo Nero
Via D'Ardiglione, 22/r, Florence, Tuscany 50124, IT

Nerbone
Via dell'Ariento, 87r, Florence, Tuscany 50100, IT

Casalinga
Sdrucciolo de' Pitti,9r, Florence, Toscana 50125, IT

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  1. Sounds like you had a great time!
    I've been meaning to try out Cavolo Nero, and will definitely make a point of it soon.
    Zoe is more of a 'cool' spot to hang out at night, and have a cocktail I think. But VERY happy you made it to Busatti (one of my favorite stores in Florence) They also have a new location on Borgo San Jacopo.
    And you already know Casalinga is one of my all time favorites in Florence. That's great you ordered two courses of pasta. Brava!

    www.elizabethminchilli.com

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    Cavolo Nero
    Via D'Ardiglione, 22/r, Florence, Tuscany 50124, IT

    Casalinga
    Sdrucciolo de' Pitti,9r, Florence, Toscana 50125, IT

    1. Love La Casalinga, but Le Volpi e L'Uva is an almost daily stop for us. "Perfect respite" nails it--spot on!

      Le Volpi E L'uva - Piazza dei Rossi, 1 Florence, Tuscany

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      Casalinga
      Sdrucciolo de' Pitti,9r, Florence, Toscana 50125, IT

      1. Silverwing, we have one dinner in Florence. Would you recommend Cavolo Nero or Casalinga? Many thanks!

        1 Reply
        1. re: k23peters

          It depends on what you're looking for, as they are very different restaurants. Cavolo Nero is elegant, the garden room romantic, service is attentive but reserved, and food is a bit eclectic - beautifully presented and delicious, but not traditional. Casalinga is a bright, bustling, busy room, with traditional homestyle cooking. Service is also attentive but it's a bit brisk just due to the fast pace of the packed room.

          We went to Casalinga twice because of the pasta, tiramisu and the price. I would happily return to either restaurant any time.

          Where ever you go, enjoy!