A taste of Tuscany The streets around Florence’s cathedral teem with tourists throughout the year. Tucked away a few steps from the Renaissance marvel that is the city’s Duomo, are two great little spots to savour some of the best Tuscan dishes in town. TEXT: KIKI DEERE | PHOTOS: CAPPELLE MEDICI AND IL NUTINO
l Nutino opened its doors in 1955 as Florence’s first pizzeria and the same wood-fired oven has been producing bubbling pizzas ever since,” explains owner Ludovico. Customers can sit back in one of the three first-floor dining rooms with frescoed ceilings and wooden ceiling beams, or in one of the two ground-floor dining areas. Thanks to Il Nutino’s exceptionally central location, it hums with hungry customers at virtually all times of day, with large, juicy steaks brought to the tables by friendly, affable waiters. “While our pizzas are a popular choice, Il Nutino is today renowned for its typical Tuscan dishes, not least the city’s muchloved ‘bistecca alla fiorentina’,” explains Ludovico. Served rare and bloody, bistecca alla fiorentina is a Tuscan favourite, tra-
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ditionally made from Chianina, an ancient Tuscan breed of cattle renowned for its tender flavoursome cuts. “Our sister-restaurant Le Cappelle Medicee, which lies just round the corner, also serves up big, juicy steaks prepared with just as much loving care,” continues Ludovico. A cosy wine bar and restaurant, Le Cappelle Medicee is located opposite the Medici Chapels a stone’s throw away from the Basil-
ica of San Lorenzo – one of Florence’s oldest churches. Opened in 1950, the restaurant was the first eatery to open in the area of San Lorenzo. Interiors have rustic, wood-panelled interiors lined with wine bottles (there are over 200 types), which lend a welcoming feel. Here too, waiters serve up large plates of freshly cooked bistecca alla fiorentina, filling the the premises with a succulent juicy aroma. “The marbling in the beef entraps moisture, keeping the meat tender and infusing it with an exceptional melt-in-your-mouth flavour. We serve it sprinkled with ‘sale di cervia’, salt that to this day is harvested by hand from salt pans on the nearby Adriatic Coast. It has an exceptionally wonderful flavour – a sweet aftertaste that really brings out the flavour of the meat,” says Ludovico. At both restaurants, bistecca alla fiorentina can be enjoyed with a variety of side dishes, from roasted potatoes sprinkled with rosemary to ‘fagioli all’uccelletto’ – a delicious side dish prepared with cannellini beans, tomato, garlic and sage that is typical of Florence and that marries particularly well with a succulent steak.