A History of Italian Restaurants

This weekend’s seminar titled Restaurants and Wine Bars was completely fascinating. So much so, that I thought it would be beneficial for me to share a few tidbits of the plethora of information that my brain consumed.

We were introduced to a few very very old restaurants throughout the city, and went on a walking tour to seek them out.

Trattoria Sostanzo, shown above, is a simple establishment born in 1869 with a handwritten menu and “door beads” covering the entrance inside. Basically on the outskirts of the city, it looks like…well…nothing special.

However, this cash only trattoria, originally a food and wine shop, has been visited by celebrities (such as Rachel Ray), and is well known for it’s past chef’s tendency to make the guests “dirty,” by touching and greeting them after he had prepared sauces/dishes in the kitchen. The restaurant came to be known as “I’ Troia”  (which actually means “dirty”) .

Trattoria Sostanza, Via del Porcellana 25/r

Established in the 800′s Trattoria Coco Lezzone has a similar past. This restaurant’s famous chef (in the 1950s) also had a reputation for producing grease marks on customer’s clothing. In fact, the name Coco Lezzone actually means, “dirty chef.” The restaurant has been here for quite a long time, it seems evident that the name is deterring not a soul from eating there.

Another interesting fact, this restaurant refuses to serve coffee.

So if you are thirsty for a coffee after eating here…well…your out of luck.

Go to a coffee shop.

The owners were more than happy to let us come inside and take a look. The same tiles, floor, even antique stove is in use since its birth. The decorations are simple, the tables are wooden and set family style, and there are pictures of extremely famous people all over the wall.

Those famous people…

They all ate there.

Including the Prince of England.

Like, woah.

Trattoria Coco Lezzone, Via Parioncino 26/r

Although not noted specifically for their past, their food, or their novelty, these two restaurants (top and bottom) are very unique. Both are referred to as a “bucas,” which means a restaurant that is under the ground. Although that fact is kind of novel just by itself, it is forbidden (by city health standards) to open a buca today. However, the law does not apply to PRIOR establishments. Only several exist in Florence today, and no more have the possibility to open. So, if you are in Florence, make sure you stop by one of these restaurants that are found randomly throughout the city.

Below, the Trattoria Angliolino (meaning other side of the river..because it is), was first opened as a wine shop and bar more than 700  years ago. It was so famous for wine production, that many famous dignitaries and kings ordered from the family-owned establishment. They have records of requests for wine from King Henry VII.

Now that’s pretty legit.

I hope they didn’t give him one of their daughters to marry.

And this window looking formation above, across from the restaurant, is actually a form of the modern “drive through window.” This was connected to the wine cellar and customers could purchase their wine and vases of wine would be carefully pushed through to the window.

The wine bar became a restaurant in 1947 and is now famous for its meat dishes.

Trattoria Angiolino, Via di S. Spirito 36/r

Cammillo, below, holds a Michelin star and is well known for accepting paintings from famous artists (before they were famous) as payment for food. Known for pairing white and black truffles with wine, the restaurant’s extensive menu changes regularly to meet the season.

Make sure you get reservations, seat go quickly.

Trattoria Cammillo (est. 1943) Borgo S. Jacopo 57/r

Ino, pictured below, is an artisan panini shop that focuses on only quality ingredients. Their panini are made with DOP meats and cheeses (which is a certain measure of quality in Italy) and served with a side of class in a trendy environment. Although their panini ring in at about 8 Euros each, it is well worth the experience of good quality materials.

Ora D’Aria, next to the Ino panini shop actually has a chef working their who is a professor at Apicuis. The dining is very elegant and the prices are quite high. However, the chef has something equivalent to a Michelin star, and apparently  it’s well worth the extra coin.

 We ended our tour with a wine tasting at the new restaurant Drogheria. It is an upscale hamburger joint that focuses on producing burgers with high quality Italian cuts of meat. The flavors are unique and the setting is upscale.

Ciao for now!