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Restaurants | blog.artofcookery.com

Zona 15

Posted by dynise | Posted in General, Restaurants

If you have ever explored the historical centers of older Tuscan and Italian cities you know that there are an abundance of curvy cobblestone streets to get pleasantly lost on.  Yes, after a couple years of living here I am still getting lost.  But I find new places to eat when I am lost, so let’s call it Research and Exploration.

So I was again Researching and Exploring my adopted Tuscan home, and surprise the aroma of food called to me.  It’s difficult here to not be called by the aroma of food, but this was in a new and unexplored piazza, Piazza Brunelleschi.  Just a few minutes north of the Duomo.

I stumbled across a place that had recently opened and was setting up for aperitivo. Zona 15.  On one of the sweltering Tuscan summer days they not only offered food, but oh, goodness was it nice and cool inside.  A further benefit is that it is new and undiscovered by the hoards of aperitivo seekers.

There were just about a dozen people there.  And the food kept coming. And coming.  The owner made sure that everyone was completely taken care of.  And the ice cold bellini in a chilled glass made for a refreshing treat after a day of traipsing around Florence.

At about 9pm more people started arriving.  The nightclub vibe was beginning to emerge.  By 10pm the food stopped and the DJ took over.  The next time I stayed for the festivities for a while, and if you are looking for a place to have a snack, a cocktail and do a little dancing later you can’t go wrong.  Pizzas, pastas and salads to begin with, delicious cocktails and a convenient location.

Zona 15

Piazza Brunelleschi


Ristoro in Vin Olio

Posted by dynise | Posted in Restaurants

Oh my God, yum.  Restaurants in Florence are everywhere, and in my opinion the general rule is the more authentic the better.  On a quiet little street, just 15 minutes walking from the Duomo,  I found a restaurant that not only was reasonably priced, but also had amazing food and sold fabulous meats and cheeses to take home.  Trifecta.  Funny thing is, I had actually walked by before on a Sunday and not noticed it because they are closed on Sundays.

You enter and face the deli counter and bottle after bottle of wine, always a welcoming sight in my opinion.  Then you are led through a door into the small dining room.  There are only about 20 tables so if you have not made a reservation you must arrive early, they open at 7:00 and they were full by 8:45 on a Wednesday.  So we sit down and luck into a window table to top it off.

All settled in, and of course starting with a little wine, we warm up with the Crostini and Bruschetta appetizer—and perfect time of the year for it, the tomatoes were perfection.  A short course break and a little more wine and then it’s time to move into a shrimp and asparagus ravioli.  Virtually perfect.  For the main dishes the duck with an orange and balsamic sauce and a hazelnut crusted lamb both evoked deep mmmm’s and shut up the conversation temporarily.  Although I will eat anything with hazelnuts, the duck dish was actually my favorite, something about the flavor combination of the citrus and balsamic just did it for me.

Dessert.  Yup, strawberries are in season and they had–you guessed it–a strawberry panna cotta.  They also had Vin Santo.  They also had great coffee.  It was also under 100 euro for four courses and two bottles of wine.  They are also one of the few places I have seen that have menus in English but virtually all of the clientele was Italian, plus they serve lunch.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

http://www.vinolio.com/menu.htm

+39.055.489.957

Open lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday

Osteria Santo Spirito

Posted by dynise | Posted in Restaurants

So I occasionally (sarcasm) enjoy a good meal.  I enjoy a good meal more with good company and a nice ambiance.  Osteria Santo Spirito could not help with the company on my first visit, but I won’t hold that against them.  On the second visit I broke my “no dining solo in Italy” rule, because I was feeling hungry and lazy.  And I was extremely glad that I did.

After being seated in the adorable main dining area you are greeted with a little short pour of Prosecco while you look over the menu,  Dynise likey beverages with bubbles.  I had tried pizza and pasta on the previous visit, but this time I was ravenous, this happens sometimes when you spend 11 hours at your computer without food.  When I am in this state consuming four courses is child’s play, so I hunkered down and got to work.

The salad with chicken, raisins, pinenuts and a pineapple vinaigrette  was good to start, but just a slight drizzle of balsamic made it perfect.   The white cheese pizza had that bubbly factor that tells you to, “wait, stop, slow down, don’t eat me yet, I am hot” that I am so bad at actually listening to.  The rabbit was perfection, slow roasted, perfect amount of juiciness, better than my mother’s was.  The chocolate cake was the topper, one of, if not the best I have eaten in Florence.  A small individual cake garnished with fresh berries and the plate swirled with both a raspberry sauce and a creme anglaise, food orgasm.  If you skip the chocolate cake for any other reason than you are deathly allergic to chocolate and will be in the throes of anaphalytic shock within moments of consumption I will personally have to admonish you.

The restaurant is located on the corner of the beautiful Piazza Santo Spirito, one of the prettiest in the entire city and has an ample outdoor area for summer dining in addition to the main dining room and a secondary dining room.  Service is unobtrusive but friendly and well timed.  I am a slow, snail paced diner and did not feel rushed at all.

Trattoria del Carmine

Posted by dynise | Posted in Restaurants

This is a restaurant I have tried numerous times over the last couple years and I am still not 100% sure of. Ninety percent of the time I am completely satisfied, slightly “happy” with wine and have a pleasant walk home.  But there have been a couple misses.

I have always been very happy with the food.  The bistecca has always been fabulous as has the tagliata. The contorno or side dishes have never missed with me either, the artichokes, the fagioli and the potatoes all made me very happy, especially the artichokes.  The pasta dishes were good, I really enjoyed the ravioli with rosa or aurora sauce–sort of a cream sauce tomato sauce hybrid.  And they even made me a half portion so I could chow down on pasta and my own bistecca, healthy appetite. The first visit there I even went for the seabass and was pleased. I have invariably finished with the torta della nonna, cuz it has creamy and pinenuts together.

What has not been all that pleasing is the service.  I am pretty tolerant and laid back when it comes to service especially when a restaurant is busy, a person only has two hands and can move so quickly through a small dining room.  I get it.  But on the two occasions that I went there alone, right after moving in to my apartment, but before going to the grocery store,  I had quite an awakening experience.  I had become invisible. All nearly 6ft tall, puffy mushroom head of hair me, had become completely and utterly invisible.  While tables on either side of me had everything they needed, bread just couldnt seem to appear on my table.  The polite little lifting of the finger and nod of the head that normally work so well to get a waiter’s attention had zero effect…

Little did I know that I had stumbled upon a cultural barrier.  While a woman dining alone in the US is probably on a business trip or maybe just was in a rush, running late after work; in Italy it is a complete anomaly.  Will I go back, of course.  Will I ever make it stop alone after a long day in the city center, not unless my shopping companion is coming with me.

Piazza del Carmine 18r

+39.055.218.601

Noir, the New Black

Posted by dynise | Posted in Restaurants

If you spend any significant amount of time in Central or Northern Italy and love food, wine and lively company and somehow do NOT manage to acquire the aperitivo habit; then you have the kind of willpower that would make St. Augustine bow down to you.

It took me a while to get around to trying Noir. I’m not sure what made me hesitate, I love film noir, pinot noir and little noir dresses. I am glad I finally did.  The first thing of note about Noir is the location.  When you hear real estate types talk about location, location, location; this type of space is exactly what they are talking about.  Positioned on the north side of the Arno, on a corner that has one of the many bridges of Florence. Absolutely stunning.

The focus here on drinks is more cocktail oriented and the bar is PACKED after 7pm, to make things more efficient they have set up a system where you first pay and get a receipt and then tell the bartender what you would like.  If you are lucky enough to get a table, the table service here was suprisingly good for a place that is as consistently busy as this.  The aperitivo is typical Tuscan and frequently restocked.  During slower periods, or if you tip on your drinks, then the waitresses will bring little plates to you so that you can just soak up all the chatter and flirting that is going on around you.

When the weather is a little warmer the crowds grow exponentially and the only available “tables” are the spots along the wall that girds the river.  This is where you will find all the flirtiest Florentines that have just finished their workday.  Resting your glass and little plate on the wall, standing over the Arno, looking on the Ponte Vecchio to the east and the beautiful Tuscan sky overhead is a fantastic way to transition into evening.

Noir

  • Lungarno Corsini, Florence 50123, Italy
  • Phone: 39 055 210 751
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