Florence for Foodies: Part 1

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Osteria Pepo'
Via Rosina, 4/6r

The first restaurant we went to in Florence. Fairly easy to find (thanks to a map) and close to our hotel. Restaurants in Italy never look as inviting on the outside as they do in North America. Sometimes I have to check myself when I find myself judging the book (or restaurant) by its cover.

We arrived fairly early by Italian standards (7:00ish) and even though the waitress gave us stink eye for not having a reservation, we were able to get a seat. When we left, the place was packed and there was a queue outside.

I had wanted to go here because I had read about one of their appetizers - coccoli prosciutto e stracchino...or fried bread with prociutto and soft cheese.

coccoli proscuitto e stracchino

In Italy the meat and pasta dishes are served just as that - a la carte. But with my love of pasta, I could never order just the meat entree. So needless to say, it was carb-loaded few days.
pappardelle al cinghiale

spaghetti del pepo'
I found the sauces to be quite salty. And while I know that salt adds flavour, it was almost too much for me to handle. But the pasta....oh, the pasta. Perfectly al dente. It made me realize how much we over-cook our pasta here.

Overall: Definitely not the best meal we had, but it was a good start.

Osteria tripperia il Magazzino
Piazza della Passera 2/3 (fu' via Sapiti)

This place was a bit harder to find on the map. Mostly because I was trying to find via Sapiti (which is small) rather than looking for the Piazza name. Located on the South side of the Arno River (the same side as Pitti Palace), the restaurant was located in an adorably tiny piazza...coincidentally in the same piazza as one of the many gelato places I hunted down.

 Again, we were one of the first people at the restaurant (at around 7pm), but there was no queue when we left.

There was one soul reason I wanted to eat here: pistachio pesto.

add pistachios to your pesto in lieu of pine nuts!
Again, the pasta was wonderfully al dente*. The sauce was great. I expected a bit more pistachio flavour though. I also prefer my pesto to have more garlic...but overall, the switch from pine nuts to pistachios was a winner.

We also had the coccoli prosciutto e stracchino again.

coccoli prosciutto e stracchino
 And another pasta dish with either boar or buffalo (I forget which) that is no longer showing on the website.

For dessert we had the pannacotta with berries. Such a disappointment, I mean, just look at it.

looks store bought

Overall: Decent meal. Primi and secondi were good, but the dolce was a disappointment. Kind of a theme I noticed though.

*Al dente in Italy means undercooked to North Americans. Either that or the pasta there is just exponentially better that it doesn't go super soft and soggy. Don't complain to me that your pasta is undercooked - that's how it's supposed to be!


Sunday, June 19, 2011
It may have been awhile since I was in Florence, but I can still taste the food. I certainly won't be winning any awards for being the most adventurous food lover, so if that's what you're looking for, you're in the wrong place. I just love food. I actually create food memories and remember how eating a particular dish or meal made me feel. I remember the moment.

So, Florence. My second go around in the city, this time with a fairly specific goal: Eat as much delicious food as you can. I think I accomplished that.

There are 3 levels of restaurants in Italy: Ristorantes (more formal dining), Osterias (casual dining) and Trattorias (mid-level dining - a cross between the others). To get a better idea, Osterias and Trattorias don't have "haute cuisine" but rather focus on maintaining clientele and home-cooked style food.

Stay tuned for a series of posts about my Italian culinary adventures!