I think the oddest and best thing about eating somewhere like Italy is the lack of pretence. The food is so simple and the ingredients so fresh that it really is just about the food. Plus the prices are so reasonable - the price of food is not something I complain about when in Italy. The perfect example?
Lunch at San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale.
Mercato Centrale is the massive building in the middle of the San Lorenzo market. Mercato Centrale is full of fresh produce, cheese, meat, bread, the best balsamic vinegars and olive oils, and food vendors. Silly me forgot to get the name of the restaurant, but you can't miss it - just follow the heaps of people with plates and the long line. The restaurant was full of locals - with one father having to buy more food (a sandwich) for his son, after he'd scarfed down an entire bowl of risotto and some of his father's meal.
The bruschetta I had was amazing. The bread was crisp and the tomatoes and basil were freshly chopped. The best part? The olive oil it was smothered in was so great, softening up the bread just enough.
Overall: A really fantastic place for lunch. Super quick and a great price.
Via Maggio, 46R
Ok, so for all you Vancouverites, I haven't been to Nicli Pizza. And for all you New Yorkers, yes, I've been to Grimaldi's.
Pizza in Italy is the BEST. Sorry, but it is. I love the size of the pies and going back to what I said earlier, the ingredients are FRESH.
Gusta Pizza is located on the South side of the Arno, on the same street as Pitti Palace. It's pretty much an institution. There are communal tables, no services/self service, and it is CHEAP. We ate for 13 Euros total (for dinner).
|tomatoes, arugula & cheese pizza|
|FRESH. look at that huge parmesan chunk|
Trattoria la Casalinga
Via dei Michelozzi, 9R
Located literally around the corner from Gusta Pizza was Trattoria la Casalinga. We had our last Italian dinner here and the staff pretty much had to roll us out of the restaurant.
|proscuitto crudo and buffalo mozzarella|
|beef carpaccio with arugula and parmesan|
It was weird to have carpaccio as an entree-type dish - in Vancouver it's usually an appetizer. And it was much thicker than I'm used to - which is why I thought that I could easily finish it. Instead it was thickly cut, like roast beef. But with the parmesan and arugula....yum.
Overall: Not the best meal we had - but still good. And cheap.