fiorentina

Good news: I didn’t hate everything I ate during a long weekend in Florence. I admit the last two posts were slightly negative. Though my reviews of Il Comparone and Bir & Fud were completely justified, I think it is time to offer praise where appropriate. I’ll start with dinner Thursday night at All’Antico Ristoro di Cambi. This place was recommended to us by my friend Megan who is always a wealth of information on eating in northern Italy, which in spite of its proximity to Rome, feels like a foreign country to me.

All’Antico Ristoro is in the Oltrarno district (San Freidano to be exact) and serves up classic Florentine dishes in a familial atmosphere. We skipped the antipasti and went straight for tagliolini al tartuffo bianco, homemade pasta tossed with butter and white truffle shavings. The subtle nuttiness and slight garlic tones of the truffles played nicely off the sweet butter. This pasta dish was an investment of sorts, priced at 25 euros a portion, but it was well worth it for this excellent seasonal treat. Next, we split a bistecca alla fiorentina, a thick 1.2 kilogram T-bone steak cooked medium rare over a hot grill. The quality of the meat was beyond reproach and it had a good fat content that enhanced the flavor and tenderness of the steak. We especially enjoyed the outer crust, seared spices and meat, that contained juicy flesh within.

Friday night we headed back to Oltrarno for dinner at La Casalinga where the service is brusque, the atmosphere bustling, and the food rustic. La Casalinga was undeniably cheap, under 25 euros a head for primo, secondo, contorno and wine. But the food left something to be desired. The ribollita (bread soup) was way oversalted and the trippa alla fiorentina (tripe cooked with onion and tomato) a bit oily. The ravioli al sugo di coniglio (with rabbit sauce) were quite good and the pheasant tasty, but after the meal we were overcome with nostalgia for All’Antico Ristoro.

On Saturday we ate at Sergio Gozzi next to the touristy San Lorenzo Market. Open at lunch only, this trattoria is a cult classic serving simple pasta dishes and steak. The tagliata (sliced steak) was good, and the sausage with beans wasn’t bad, although the sausage was a bit too lean for our liking. But this is a matter of taste. We finished the meal with a crostata topped with dried figs and nuts, though the pear and chocolate tart served to the table beside us left us regretting the choice.

After all this Tuscan cuisine, my southern Italian side got the better of me and we set out searching for pizza, finding a damn fine pizza napoletana at the touristy La Bussola. We indulged in half a pie each, and feeling obligated to take advantage of being in one of the world’s most carnivorous cities, split a controfiletto (NY strip) with grilled porcini. The steak was great but we returned the next afternoon for lunch and each had a pizza margherita con mozzarella di bufala. I know eating so much pizza in Florence must sound like horribly sacrilegious. But chalk it up to my Neapolitan roots and the need to feel closer to home in this foreign city of the north.

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Florence · Meat · Restaurants

10 Comments:


  • Katie–We’ll be in Florence the week after Christmas (heading there from Rome) and looking forward to eating! Sorry to hear you are not enamored with la cucina fiorentina, but your comments are certainly justified. Just wondering, have you ever been to Taverna del Bronzino? We’ve always had a wonderful meal there, and the waiters seem to remember us, even though there is at least a year between our visits!


  • Your meal at All’Antico Ristoro is my idea of the quintessential Florentine meal! Oh, I LOVE bistecca alla florentina. Dont forget Quartro Leone on your next trip – we had a good meal there, right? What was the name of that neighborhood – so cute and artsy? Will have to spend a few days in Florence on my next trip abroad.

  • Katie

    @Tom, never been to Taverna del Bronzino. I just got a stellar list of places to try next time from a regular visitor to Florence. It is not that I do not like la cucina fiorentina, I just feel out of sorts there; the food is great but less familiar to me than the cuisine of lazio, puglia, basilicata, sicily, or sardegna.

    @JP Quattro Leoni was really good. I wanted to go back there but was dead set on trying new places. It is located in the Oltrarno neighborhood, just east of All’Antico Ristoro di Cambi. We should definitely make a trip back to Florence. Just say the word.


  • La bistecca at Antico Ristoro dei Cambi is great but you should really have tried la Pappa alla Fiorentina, which unlike beef, you can practically get nowhere else.
    Another good candidate is il tranvai (for italianized Tramway / Cablecar when there was one in Florence)

  • Katie

    what is la Pappa alla Fiorentina? Ive heard good things about tranvai, too. another trip to Florence is in order!


  • Remember the best Bruschetta you ever had ? Roscioli or elsewhere,now imagine it were a soup, with a gently browned onions taste too.
    In totally pavlovian mode, Antico Ristoro dei cambi spells Fiorentina / Chianina and Pappa to me. I was 1st brought there by an Italian colleague and came back each trip after.
    As fond a memory as a Sunday run nelle Cascine, a Cesaria Evora concert in Fiesole’s amphitheater or the morning jogging up to Piazzale Michelangelo.

  • Katie

    @CyrilBuzz that sounds amazing. i have a growing list of things to eat next time and this is at the top!


  • My wife and I printed your blog out to take with us on our honeymoon trip to Florence. Had every intention of going to All’Antico but they were full up because of the world cup, unfortunately.

    Although we took your menu recommendations and found a neat little restaurant near Piazza Mentana on Corso Dei Tintori (47R – To be exact) called Il Fagioli. Not the most tourist friendly place ( the handwritten menu was all in italian but the wait staff was beyond reproach and extremely friendly for a small mom/pop type place. Every menu item was explained in glorious detail and a wine pairing was suggested. The Crostini Tipico tasted excellent, a little grainy as some chicken liver dishes can get but tasty none the less. My wife got her usual Bruschetta Pomodoro and was pleased. But the real surprise was the Ribollita, your description above had me a little dubious of the dish as a whole, but Fagioli’s was exellent, simple flavor profile, the beans stood on their own and the bread still had structure even after sitting overnight. Tagliolini with a house made carbonara that was so light but still so flavorful.

    The real star of the meal was the bisteca….my wife who’s usually a medium to medium well steak type gal was practically gnawing on the bone and we both were fighting over the contre-filet. It was perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, and simply dressed with salt and a little TINY drizzle of green olive oil. A side of mushrooms cooked in plain steak jus was the perfect side.

    All that with a bottle of chianti classico, and 2 pieces of creme torte all for under 100 euro.

    While not what we had planned we were pleasantly surprised. Thank you so much for the inspiration and hope we can make it to All’Antico on our next trip (we WILL be going back)


  • Katie — when was the last time you went to Il Quattro Leone? I went in 2007 and it was good but things can change in four years. I’m trying to decide if my husband and I should consider stopping there again in November or try things new. Like you, I tend to gravitate toward trying new places.

  • Katie

    @Corey sorry for the late reply. thank you SO MUCH for this fabulous trip report!

    @melissa the last time i was there was 2007 or 2008. what kind of meal are you looking for? if i had only a few meals in florence i dont know if Il 4 Leoni would be on the top of my list.

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