Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

Tips, stories, and questions about travel-related topics, including restaurants
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F.Daner
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Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#1 Post by F.Daner » September 8th, 2019, 12:57 am

The board was very helpful in planning our first trip to Italy. I can already see some adjustments I will make in our schedule next time but we are meeting friends halfway through the trip that effected how we planned.

We are spending the weekend in Florence. We went 3 for 3 with recommendations from the board for restaurants. We had an unbelievable first day seeing much of the city. We're staying at the Westin Excelsior right on the Arno

Lunch- La Bussola
https://www.labussolafirenze.com/en/
Wonderful spot off the main square a bit away from the tourist throng. We got a table on the patio. They quickly filled up so make a reservation if you're going in season. The recommendation from the board was for their Pizza and it is fantastic. We had #3 with was with salum and sheep's milk cheese. We will try a classic Margherita next time as it looked perfect. We also split a pasta and it was spot on. Great wine list as well. We split a bottle of Villa Donoratico from Tenuta Argentiera. Solid entry level Bolgheri wine. We are tasting there later this week.

Dinner and night cap
The Osteria del Enoteca and Enoteca Pitti Gola have been recommended numerous times by board members and I can see why. The service, food and experience are outstanding. The food at the Osteria is very good and the service is outstanding. We had dinner first and finished with a night cap at the Enoteca.
http://www.osteriadellenoteca.com/

The bistecca was cooked perfectly. 1.2 Kilo's is the smallest size for 2 and we left about a third of it which I hated doing. Beautiful romantic restaurant that we will see again for sure.

I don't know what I can add about the Enoteca that hasn't been said before. We went for a cheese course and wine after our dinner. The Osteria called ahead to reserve a table but we sat at the wine bar which was perfect. We had a 2011 Monteraponi Chianti and a 2013 Fattoi Brunello. The Chianti was starting to age just a touch and was beautiful. The Brunello that followed was excellent as well especially for a BTG selection. The service is world class. I can see why they were voted one of the best Enoteca in Italy over 10 years ago. The passion for what their team does and the fun they have with their customers is a joy to experience.

http://pittigolaecantina.com/

We had gelato on the walk back to our hotel. It was a magical night. I'm posting pictures on IG as I still can't figure out how to load here.
Fred

mike pobega
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Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#2 Post by mike pobega » September 8th, 2019, 9:44 am

Fred, I am following you on FB. Looks like a wonderful time. Glad you are enjoying.

m

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Stan Y.
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Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#3 Post by Stan Y. » September 8th, 2019, 2:08 pm

We did the same thing as you Fred in mid August when we took our kids to Italy. A lot of recommendations in previous posts here went directly into Google Maps, and since August is a really terrible time to plan a trip around destination-eating (something like 80 or 90 percent of the places you'd plan to eat at e.g. all of the Cibreo places, Trattoria da Burde, etc. are closed for the month, leaving the rest in really high demand) we just winged it and mostly based meals on these recommendations and where we happened to be.

We stayed south of the Arno at Ad Astra, a funky B&B style place that backed up to Giardino Torrigiani, the largest private garden in Italy. Most relaxing and a 10 minute walk from the insanely busy center of town. Right down the street from the Osteria and the Enoteca Pitti Gola, although the Osteria was booked the entire time we were there. Very good pastas at the enoteca, with good wine selections and recommendations.

We ate late lunch at La Bussola multiple times. Never a wait then though. Nice escape from the masses of people just a short walk away. Really good radicchio salad too. After our first meal I spent 30 minutes talking with the wine guy there but not a thing about wine :-). Most museums we could book a week or two in advance but not the Accademia; he found out my kids are serious about cello and viola, and said "you have to see the Strads at the Accademia, I think they are open late tonight"...everyone else heads directly to David but my kids literally ran to the instrument gallery first. Really cool when your somm gives you such outstanding advice :-).

Someone's reco for SandwiChic was spot-on as well. Outstanding panini, interesting local beer ("here, try this local US-style IPA"), cool employees who enjoy what they're doing.

We were also staying a block from a nice discovery, L'Arte di Dori, very low key husband and wife place, nicely decorated, with a large window open to the kitchen. As we were walking by on our way to another recommendation here (Coquinarius, interesting wine bar and list, ok menu), Dori was making pasta from scratch in the window, and I'm thinking "this looks legit and has to be at least good"...it was. Very good Florentine steak too, billed at a kilo but distinctly larger. Authentic / family-style / scratch-made are fairly tired descriptions but they nailed it. Next time I might ask about bringing my own wine though, the limited selections were corporate and serviceable, just not their thing.

I have a really good recommendation for an apartment for a family or for couples to stay in Rome, killer view and a couple of blocks from all of the Rochioli places. Not on a Florence SML and Tuscany thread though I guess.

LaBussola.JPG
La Bussola
S. Y @ t € s

F.Daner
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Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#4 Post by F.Daner » September 8th, 2019, 10:43 pm

Nice write up Stan. Glad you enjoyed some of the same spots as we did. What a beautiful city. Yes the tourists are everywhere but we didn't seem too bothered. We are leaving this morning and definitely could have used one more day in Florence.

We had reservations at Ristorante Il Palagio at the Four Seasons so we thought we would eat a bit lighter for lunch. I did some searching and came up with Zeb Gastronomia as it was very close to Piazzale Michelangelo. It's a beautiful part of Florence and and easy walk from my hotel.

https://www.zebgastronomia.com/1121-2/

If you read the reviews about Zeb you'll see some comments about his style of service and attitude. You sit at a long food bar as it is a small spot but deftly laid out. No menu's as Alberto the owner walks you through the menu. 9 pasta first courses and about 6 secondi. My wife had the pear and gorgonzola Ravioli and I had the pappardelle w wild boar ragu. The pasta is fresh made in house and the dishes were right up there with the best pasta we've ever eaten. They are also larger than normal first courses. They really are enough for lunch. We did not want to order secondi but one more pasta to share. Spaghetti w Black Truffle, devine but very rich. Some fellow diners swooned over the stuffed rabbit and Osso Bucco. Country Tuscan style meats. Wine BTG selection is very nice though Alberto was not too interested in walking through the options. A lighter red from Puglia then a wonderful Barbera. We really enjoyed eating at the food bar and getting to chat with our fellow patrons. It was completely full at 2pm when we left. I would recommend but you have to just roll with the style of service. Mamma is also in the house and she was a wonderful hostess.

Dinner at Il Palagio was certainly worthy of the 1 Michelin star. https://www.fourseasons.com/florence/di ... l_palagio/

Outstanding service and food. We did not do the tasting menu but created our own choices with the help of our server including a terrific Scallop dish from the tasting menu. Their signature dish is a Cavatelli Cacio & Pepe with baby squid and red prawn. Delicious( though Zeb's pasta was just as deft). We both opted for the Quail with seared fois gras. Fantastic dish and best of the weekend for sure. Wine selections were excellent but a good bit over priced as you would expect. For dinner with the Quail we had from coravin Dominique Laurent Les Vaucrains, 1er cru 2000 and the Castello Del Terriccio Lupicaia 1995. Both were excellent with the dish. The Burgundy from a cooler year was balanced and earthy and in very good shape. The Tuscan wine though stole the show and was bursting from the glass. A wonderful wine, the price ah not so much. A splurge night for sure. We couldn't eat dessert but they insisted on some small bites from them and Lemoncillo from the Amalfi coast. It would have been rude to say no :-).

Beautiful walk back around 11pm. The square's were still buzzing with people and another great day in the books.
Attachments
florence il pagio.jpg
stuffed quail at Il Pilagio
florence zeb truffles.jpg
pasta at Zeb split portion size
Last edited by F.Daner on September 10th, 2019, 6:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Fred

F.Daner
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Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#5 Post by F.Daner » September 8th, 2019, 10:49 pm

Hi Mike - thanks, though I will not get to as much wonderful Pizza as you. Today we are off to SML and Camolgi. Foccacia time !

Looks like I will be coming to NY a bit for work so hope to share a meal and wine at some point.

Ciao
mike pobega wrote:
September 8th, 2019, 9:44 am
Fred, I am following you on FB. Looks like a wonderful time. Glad you are enjoying.

m
Fred

F.Daner
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Joined: June 7th, 2009, 4:48 am
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Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#6 Post by F.Daner » September 10th, 2019, 1:01 am

We got an awesome weather day yesterday, high 70's low humidity. We could only take the ferry to Portofino as it was too rough to make it all the way to San Fruttuosso. We had plenty of company at Portofino and it was everything we expected it to be. Behind the glitz though are some awesome areas to explore and we found a little beach as a cool dip was perfect after our post lunch walk.

Meals- lunch in Portofino. One place stood out from all the others as the diners and the staff seemed to be having a great time.

https://www.daigemelli.com/- From The Twins- excellent. Caprese salad, Trofie w pesto and Grilled Prawns ala Gemili. Nice Vermentino by the glass. Highly recommend.

Dinner- Train to Camolgi. Many restaurants have been there for years. This one stood out. Ostaia da Osigu

Wonderful little spot with perfectly prepared Ligurian cuisine. Outstanding service and a deeper than expected wine list fairly priced.
http://www.ostaiadaosigu.com. They have a little terrace below the main avenue that runs along the sea. It has 4 tables all with incredible views. Our evening could not have been more different than the prior night in Florence. It was just as beautiful.

We are staying in SML and planning each day depending on the weather. Yesterday was beautiful and sunny so we took the ferry to Portofino. Throngs of tourists but one place seemed to stand out as it was crowded and both the patrons and the staff seemed to be having a great time.
https://www.daigemelli.com/- From The Twins- excellent. Caprese salad, Trofie w pesto and Grilled Prawns ala Gemili. Perfect Vermention by the glass. Highly recommend.

Train to Camolgi. Many restaurants have been there for years. This one stood out. Ostaia da Osigu
Wonderful little spot with perfectly prepared Ligurian cuisine. Outstanding service and a deeper than expected wine list fairly priced.
http://www.ostaiadaosigu.com
portofino prawns.jpg
prawns at lunch
camolgi dinner.jpg
dinner by the sea
Fred

F.Daner
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Joined: June 7th, 2009, 4:48 am
Location: Tampa, Florida

Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#7 Post by F.Daner » September 18th, 2019, 12:59 am

Here are the highlights from the rest of our trip.

Tuesday- lunch in Camolgi- Foccacia as first course from just about anywhere sitting by the sea and followed up by some awesome Gnochi Pomodoro from Pasta Fiorella. It's a fresh pasta shop that cooks pasta for lunch from 12-2pm. Pick your pasta and your sauce for a large bowl for $5E. Ridiculously good and stupid value. You have to take it to go though and eat sitting on the bench looking at the sea. Didn't suck.

Tuesday dinner in SML:
ZI' NINELLA- current top rated restaurant in SML on Trip A open for 4 months. Pasquale is a great chef and host. We had a blast. He also adds in some nice options outside of traditional Ligurian cuisine.

Wed lunch in Rapallo before heading to Tuscany
Ristorante Gli Angeli- terrific seafood. This was one of our dinner options we didn't make it to but hit on the way out with friends for lunch. Smart wine list too with creative fresh seafood. Would go back for dinner.

Highlights of our time in Tuscany:
Stayed at Relais Sant'Elena in Bibbona/Bolgheri region. Beautiful place with excellent service.
We then moved to Pienza and stayed at La Bandita Townhouse. We really liked it and enjoyed staying in Pienza. Really nice little town but you are driving everywhere you go but centrally located.

Best meals
La Pineta - everything we hoped it would be. Fantastic seafood on the coast steps from the water.
Osteria Perilla- in Rocca D'Orca- Well worth the michelin one star it has. Fantastic lunch and some smart wine choices that were very reasonable. Their Sangiovese they make is very good for the price. We did the larger tasting menu.
Trattoria da Fiorella - In the town of Pienza. Classic Trattoria that did a great job with the classics. The Pecorino cheese appetizer and Pici Pasta with spicy tomato sauce are classics and not to be missed. Also an excellent value
La Bandita Caffe- Chef David from Scotland has been there 7 years. Outstanding restaurant with his twist on Tuscan classics. We had our last meal of the trip there and it was excellent. One of the best of the entire trip.

Overall absolute fantastic trip that we learned a lot from and the board was also a great help.

Ciao
Fred

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Andrew Demaree
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Re: Eating and Drinking in Italy, -Florence, SML and Tuscany

#8 Post by Andrew Demaree » September 22nd, 2019, 2:30 pm

Wow, sounds like a fantastic trip. Hope to get to Italy someday, and I will definitely use all of the great notes in this board as a guide.

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