One way to detect a good restaurant in Tuscany, and its capital of Florence, is by the size of the menu.
If there are only a few simple starters, a handful of entrees and a minimum number of main meals, it usually means that this is a place where they make a few things well – really well – and use only the freshest of fresh ingredients to do so.
Depending on the size of the eatery, most Italians would be almost suspicious of a place that offers too many things on the menu – a task that can be only managed by places with lots of tables and a high turnover of clientele.
Italian recipes are simple – usually featuring just a few select in-season ingredients prepared in such a way to exalt the natural flavours.
One example of keeping culinary things simple is at one of the most prized pizzerias in Florence, Caffè Italiano.
They have a tiny pizzeria with a few tables squeezed into the space around the pizza oven, and a few extra tables in a downstairs area. On the menu are just 3 pizzas, each of them absolutely delicious. Well, not that there even is a menu. If you aren’t a repeat visitor who has been salivating over just the thought of their delicious pizza, the waiter will just recite the types of pizzas on offer.
The Caffè Italiano boasts, ‘We just allow two variations in order to satisfy the most demanding pizza lovers: remove mozzarella or add anchovies. Margherita, Marinara and Napoli. These are the pizzas you will find in our menu.’
Caffè Italiano also has an Osteria next door to their pizzeria. This is a modest eatery where you can enjoy local food with casual recipes and local wine in a relaxed environment in the heart of Florence’s city centre, just a short walk from the Duomo and quite close to Piazza Santa Croce.
The newest Caffè Italiano offering is SUD – a restaurant featuring simple foods from the south of Italy.
Dining there this week, we savoured a mixed starter of southern Italian cheese, salami and other delicacies. Next we had a ‘frisella’ (round crunchy bagel-shaped bread) – cut in half and topped with spicy chicory, garlic and olive oil.
We also had a wonderful pasta dish with fava beans that was, apparently, too delicious to be photographed!
We’re not sure what was more special – the great food or watching the lovely woman in the open kitchen working her magic with a series of old-style pans with long handles in which she expertly prepared the simple and delicious meals. The pans then went into a wood-fired oven to be cooked!
To learn to make delicious, typical Italian recipes before indulging in a delicious meal made by you, we have hands-on cooking classes in Florence and Cooking Classes in a Tuscan Villa.
Via dell’Isola delle Stinche 11/13r – Firenze
telefono 055 289368 – 055 289080