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Secured a Sostanza reservation

For Friday, 10/18. I called this morning (my time) and using what little Italian I know was able to easily make a reservation as the very nice person on the other end of the phone spoke English.

My question: I know the butter chicken is THE dish to order, but honestly, I am not a big fan of butter when used like this. For me, the taste is overwhelming and cloying. Would it be a sin to dine at Sostanza and not order it?

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  1. No, the bistecca is very good as well.

    1. Well, not exactly a sin but its one of the two things that one goes there for. Since I'm assuming that you dont get there much, not getting a Florentine steak or the butter chicken will leave you without knowing, something I couldn't easily live with :-) It's very good. And, if nothing else, you'll have something to talk about afterwards.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Steve R

        Ive not yet been to Sostanza but their bistecca has been heralded for many, many years. Its only been in recent years we have even heard about the chicken. Dont be shy, go for the beef!

        1. re: Steve R

          Thanks to all who have replied.

          @Steve R: this will be our 5th trip to Florence, but our first time to Sostanza. we have had very good bistecca fiorentina every past trip, but we're always up for trying another.

          It seems like a general consensus to at least try the chicken, which I now know we will have to do. Thanks again.

          1. re: ttoommyy

            I was just about to reply to Jen's post on the steak by saying that, in my opinion, even though Sostanza has one of the better ones, there are other places in Florence that do as well with it. However, I have never found another butter chicken place that I've liked as much. Of course, that's a sample size of one visit but...

            By the way, posts like the one above by ledrez, talking about sub-standard to poor meals there, are unfortunately not historically uncommon. Although we didnt get to eat there this past August, I remember confirming, after a past trip ('06... earlier?), to a friend that I felt like I was home in Brooklyn eating at the old Peter Luger's, where the meat was great but the wait staff less than friendly & where the food was thrown around with abandon. Luger's has refined its act but I'm not sure Sostanza has & it can be a crapshoot on a given night. Have fun... report back.

        2. We were JUST there. Start with the pasta in the house ragu. Then, do yourself a favor and order the butter chicken. It's one of the simplest, yet best dishes ever...and then get the Florentine steak. You'll be very happy with these choices...

          1 Reply
          1. re: sockster

            "Then, do yourself a favor and order the butter chicken. It's one of the simplest, yet best dishes ever...and then get the Florentine steak."

            There is no way we could eat both of these dishes, so it will have to be one or the other.
            Oh, to be faced with such choices every day. :)

          2. Per the advice of many posts here we ate at Sostanza during visit to Florence mid-September. No problem booking table through our hotel. While the servers were very nice and tried to be attentive, food/drink/glasses were just about thrown at us as they tried to meet the demands of the filled (and very live) room. A number of utensils and glasses had to be returned for rewashing, no time for washers to check if they were really cleaned. Servers were very aware of the time ticking away for the next seating, as a crowd waited outside. Seems the kitchen must have been in a hurry as well. Only bad meal we ate in our 2 week visit to Italy. Sad too after all the build up by posters here. Bistecca was flavorless, rubbery. Had been to Florence before so we know how special it can be! Butter chicken was good, but there are far far better dishes at numerous places in the city. Only our tablemates made the evening memorable. Just having met, we share travel/food/family stories and wine.They too had the same take on the meal.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ledrez

              A few comments.

              1. As long as I've been going (a long, long time), the bistecca has been no more than average. If you want a bistecca go to Vecchia Bettola, among others.

              2. The butter chicken is very good conceptually as a dish, but the chicken itself is just okay.

              3. I enjoy Sostanza, but only go at lunch. The service is infinitely better at lunch because you do not have more than one seating. No one is in a hurry. More than one seating is something that any Italian who enjoys his/her food and knows his/her food, would never stand for. Never. More than one seating is aimed at getting tourists in and out. Today, this unfortunately happens at too many well known Florentine restaurants.

            2. Well, 3 months ago I was sitting there in a room full of tourists (in the designated 7:30 tourist time) staring at both the chicken and bistecca. My fork kept reaching for the chicken. We (4 of us) tried a variety of other dishes including the omelette which is another specialty and nothing really stood out like the chicken.
              Overall, we had a good time but compared to other establishments we visited in Florence like Da Ruggero we found Sostanza slightly overrated.
              Like you, I also had to call them from home

              http://wp.me/p2zSmJ-K1

              5 Replies
              1. re: Ziggy41

                Thanks Ziggy.
                After all these not so stellar responses, now I am rethinking going to Sostanza. We have only 3 nights in Florence. What to do? Hmmmmm...

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  I'd still give it a shot. Unless you intend on passing on that chicken. There's only 1 stick of butter in it ;) as opposed to 3 sticks in something like Mr. B's famous BBQ Shrimp in New Orleans if you've been.

                  Try a salumi combination of the prosciutto, Finocchiona, Salami, Tortellini with Ragu or sauce of your choice, the chicken, finish with the Meringue cake and chances are you'll have a fine meal

                  1. re: Ziggy41

                    Thanks Ziggy, I will keep your suggestions in mind; they sound wonderful. The talk of being rushed is really what is bothering me now, though.

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      lunch.... everything is deformed in impacted places like Florence due to the evening tourist crush, Like other cities I suspect that finding evening meals farther away from the center is helpful in improving results,

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Thanks jen. This wil be our 5th time in Florence. We'ver dined well in the evening just fine before, never feeling rushed. Lunch is an idea though. Thanks again.

              2. I can't believe I let myself fall into the foodie anxiety trap again! Why am I worrying so much about this reservation? For the most part, Sostanza gets very solid reviews. 2 hours to enjoy our meal is more than enough time. My husband and I always enjoy ourselves, no matter where we eat. So what was I worrying about? Thanks to all who posted. I promise to report back within 24 hours after our meal!

                3 Replies
                1. re: ttoommyy

                  Hey, make it even 36 hours. You earned it! I fall under the same trap.
                  I keep forgetting to reply that I dont recall being rushed, but it was definitely not a long dinner. Around 1:45 if I recall. You will most likely share your table with someone which is part of the experience

                  1. re: Ziggy41

                    "You will most likely share your table with someone which is part of the experience."

                    That's one of the things I am looking forward to.

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      Yeah, I agree. But then I remember that somewhere in the past someone got stuck sitting next to me. Well, at least my wife was there to help them out.

                      Have fun.

                2. Definitely order the butter chicken, even it it's only one order to split. This is a memorable dish. They also have a boiled chicken with salsa verde that is supposed to be very good.

                  Sostanza has two seatings for dinner, and we had a 9:30 reservation. There were only three servings of chicken left by the time we ordered. I'm really glad I didn't miss out.

                  A lot of reviews have raved about the artichoke omelet, but the couple next to us (coincidentally, like us, from Vancouver) did not like it at all.

                  1. We had our dinner at Sostanza last night and as promised, I am reporting back.

                    I am not one to list every dish and describe my likes and dislikes of it, so I won't be doing that. I will say that I ordered the petti di pollo al burro (butter chicken) for my secondi and it was very good. My husband had a few bites of it and he liked it too. It is not amazing or worth going out of ones way for though as some reviews would have you believe. Everything else we had (zuppa alla paisana, tortellini in burro and lomba di vitello) were also quite good. All in all, a very solid meal. Perhaps my favorite dish though was dessert: an orange torta that was basically a lovely sponge cake soaked in an orange syrup with a thin orange glaze on top amd sprinkled with some candied orange.
                    We both agreed that we would go back to Sostanza next time we visit Firenze. Thanks to all who responded to my original query.
                    We have to catch a train to Prato in an hour or so, but I will add my thoughts on service and communal table mates later today. Ciao!

                    Edit: I apologize if I made any errors in my Italian spelling; it's early in the morning and I am too tired to look up the correct spellings and edit it. I hope it is not too bad.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      Not too bad! Well some of us wouldn't know anyway ;)

                      Thanks for reporting back and have a great rest of the trip

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        Now where was I...
                        Oh yes, service. It was rushed, but friendly. We tried to speak as much Italian as we could, but our waiter spoke English, so all went smoothly. This was the only time in Italy I can ever remember being presented with a check before
                        I asked for it. But then I was expecting that as there was another seating they had to prepare for.
                        As for the communal table seating... I liked it, but would much rather have had better table mates. We were seated so that the two people immediately near us and within speaking range were two 30 something women from the US. Neither knew anything about Sostanza; they just happened to be staying on the same block so decided to eat there. One asked if they had a "petite filet mignon" and the other poured olive oil into her tablespoon so she coul dip her bread. That's all I'll say about them. I really think to make Sotanza work 100%, one has to have an open mind about what to expect and be seated with a good group of people. Like I said earlier, we did enjoy ourselves and the food was quite good; we will definitely return some day.