Hunger Pains In Florence

If the food of Italy could be transposed into music, then Florence would be a sonata.  Imagine your soul on steroids, then add pheromones.  I had more restaurants recommended to me there than any other city on our itinerary and now I know why, hence the separate meal post.

After Venice, we arrived at our hotel around lunch hour.  We asked the concierge where to go for a close meal and his suggestion was to a place right around the corner.  I gave him my kindest "I'm not wasting one single bite on mediocrity while here," response and he assured me that we wouldn't be disappointed.  

He was right.  

We opted to share Fettucine with Pesto, Spaghetti Pomodoro and Ribollita.  One bite into each and I knew what I was in for....

Heartache.  Long distance relationships are not easy, especially when you know you're falling.  Metaphorically and literally it was happening; and there was no going back. 

 

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Another standout was at Trattoria Sostanza (around since 1869).  This was a blind date, set up by clients of mine.  After all, it was just lunch. 

I was told to make a reservation but since it was pouring, decided to take a chance at walking in.  We got lucky!
 
The must-have dish of Sostanza is the butter-sizzling chicken.  I don't have a photo of it because *most* of the time I don't take pictures of food at restaurants.  However,  I did justify the shots here after spotting a signed headshot of Rob Lowe on the wall.  That and the Americans next to us were snapping away like crazy.   

Left below is the frozen chocolate chip meringue cake they are also famous for.  I believe that the strawberries, which were tiny and at peak, represent the amount of pieces your heart becomes the first time your lips touch.    

 

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My mom requires me to take pictures in front of any restaurant that makes me smile...

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Down the same street:  

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Our second night's dinner at L'Osteria Di Giovanni was transforming.  I actually found out about it on Serious Eats, a food forum with knowledgable contributors.  

 

The place is tucked along a narrow alley and walking there made my mom a little nervous.  The street numbers are all out of order (see: "There are no rules in Italy"), but eventually found it and were told to hang out for 10 minutes.  A short, robust man in a pony pink polo shirt returned to us with 3 glasses of prosecco to wait on.  I immediately became cynical... just another thing we didn't ask for but will be charged  (like bread).

10 minutes turned into 30 and we were escorted in.  The room was full of Italians- just as you'd want- but we then walked right past everyone, through a low, arched passage way and into a back room.  The first thing I noticed was that almost everyone was speaking English.

I griped, "Great, they put us in the American room."
"Maybe they only have one English-speaking waiter," my mom suggested.  Fair enough.

The server was fast to approach our table....in a leopard print apron (that I seriously want).  He actually didn't speak any English. 

We ordered wine, a Caprese Salad, Fried Squash Blossoms, Pappardelle Bolognese and Cod to share. 

HOLY CRAP.   

Everything was the best of what it could have been... and our fashionable waiter (I forgot his name!) couldn't have been sweeter.  He was a rare breed of individual who seemed to generally love people, his job, and life.

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Then came one of the best tiramisus I've ever encountered.  Let me have a moment.

As if we weren't already grinning ear to ear, Vin Santo and Biscotti finished the night.  A total blowout.  I've never had a biscotti so perfect.  Not too sweet, held up in the wine, not crumbly, and had a chewiness that I need to research more into. 

The bill was not only less expensive than anticipated, but we weren't charged for the prosecco or side of squash blossoms.  On our way out back through the cave-passage we all smiled and stopped to point at a big basket of the biscotti.  Our animal-printed waiter, without any reservation, immediately packed up a to-go bag and then insisted on  a photo shoot.  I felt a sharp pain in my culo, and it was cynicism biting me.

As much as I appreciate and love the art of fine dining, this to me is what it's all about.  No pretense and all heart.  In my many days of living and eating, Giovanni is one of the best meals I've had.  

 

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I was forced to take another restaurant picture.  This time you can see heaven shining down. 

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