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If You Happen To Be In The Neighborhood…
“If you happen to be in the neighborhood I know of a great place for lunch.” That’s what I was told. I had been asking for local recommendations for our trip to Florence. I didn’t want to listen to guide books: this time I wanted small trattorias with wonderful homemade food. Nothing fancy; just simple Tuscan home cooking.
The directions were scribbled down on a piece of paper and I was hoping that we would find the place (My handwriting- I can’t even read it though no need to analyze it now) South of the Pitti Palace seemed to be the key clue along with the name La Mangiatoia. I was told the front of the restaurant says: Trattoria Tavola Calda and below in script will be a small sign: La Mangiatoia. This was intriguing me (and maybe it wasn’t unusual in Florence) but I found it rather odd that the restaurant had two signs when there was only one restaurant. Like Alice in Wonderland: “It would be nice if something made sense for a change.” But we were in Italy and it probably made perfect sense. And so we gleefully sang out in unison: “It’s Italian!”
After a nice stroll and being side tracked and photos every two steps; we were there. As you walked in was a display case with all the foods that were available for the day (and take-out). Each one looking tastier than the other and so fresh. Decisions were going to be painful (my first response to myself: maybe we’ll have one of each) We were led up a narrow staircase to a very noisy and lively dining room. No English was detected. A local trattoria, a treat. Yes, we were in for a treat. We started looking at all the dishes on the tables, hoping to get a glimpse of everyone’s lunch.
The menu was full of delicious grilled meats, fresh vegetables, pasta dishes (hot and cold) and wonderful crispy pizzas. We had to try the pasta, the pizza, the vegetables and some wine. We ordered our meal. And then it all arrived; the fragrance of the food: it had to be wonderful. I took my first bite and Bob (waiting for my response) looked very relieved when I gave out a sigh. It was incredible. (I make assorted food noises- when I really appreciate something) He knew I loved it. He loved it too. (by then there was not a morsel left on the table) And how could you describe flavor so perfect. It was a concerto; everything just came together. It was the simple Tuscan dining experience we were looking for.
Fresh and Simple!
We were pretty happy that afternoon. We found the restaurant with two signs and we had a most satisfying meal.
La Mangiatoia: Via Romana 8r Tuesday – Sunday; Lunch and dinner
On the other hand we were really saddened by a change in one of our longtime favorites: Caffe Giocosa; a venerable institution founded in 1815 (Via della Spada 10) close to Via Tornabuoni. All roads always led to Giacosa where we grabbed a quick expresso, cappuccino, biscotti and were on our way.
Roberto Cavalli now owns this landmark and it has changed. Much to our dismay the original charm is gone and so were the morning, mid morning and afternoon crowds that came for that quick snack at the bar. Actually Caffe Giocosa had changed so much we walked right past it a dozen times. We had to go into the Robert Cavalli store next door to be personally escorted there.
Jill- Bella! Grazie, mille grazie!! Your adventure in Firenze (Florence- to my non Italian speaking friends) is delightful, thanks for sharing with us! I hope you will take us on more of your escapades again real soon. –Stephanie aka TravelDesigned