After a night in London, we caught our plane from Gatwick Airport to Venice, Italy. From Venice, we hopped on a train to Florence. That Sunday evening, it didn’t seem like there were many places open. Instead of wandering aimlessly, we asked the concierge of our hotel (Hotel Villa Carlotta) what restaurants nearby were open. He recommended Antica Porta, so we headed down the hill from the hotel toward the restaurant.
When we arrived at the restaurant, there were 4 servers/waitresses in their late teens/early 20s. Three of them were a bit hesitant to take us to our table, urging the fourth girl to assist us. From what we could surmise, the other girls urged our server to help us as she knew the most English.
She brought us a menu in both English and Italian. Sometimes I think this is a bad sign when in a foreign country, but in this case it wasn’t at all. We were starving, so we started off with the pecorino and salami platter. The quantity was a bit more than we expected, but we weren’t going to let any of it go to waste! The platter came with a delicious roasted red pepper tapenade that was just the perfect blend of smoky and sweet flavors. Together with a piece of pecorino and salami on a bit of Italian bread, it was a lovely start to our meal. I don’t think I’d ever had pecorino with such a sharp, rich flavor before!
We followed that up with the Fonduta di tartufo nero e porcini pizza, black truffle and porcini mushroom pizza Tuscan style. It had a very thin crust, so it was a bit difficult to eat. That didn’t stop us from enjoying every last bite. There were decent size pieces of shaved black truffle and nice big pieces of porcini mushrooms. There was also some truffle oil drizzled all over for a little extra flavor. This was probably the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. It was so tasty, we almost forgot to take a picture!
After the pizza, we were worried if anything else would live up to that! Luckily, the spinach and ricotta gnudi with buffalo mozzarella in a ragu sauce did not disappoint. The gnudi were rich, savory pillows with a veil of buffalo mozzarella covering each gnudi. The ragu added a tartness and meatiness that made each bite even tastier. Had we not started out with the salami platter, I guarantee you Mike and I would’ve ordered another order of the gnudi!
After all that, we still had a tiny bit of room for something sweet. Not wanting anything too heavy, we decided upon the vanilla gelato with pine nuts and chocolate sauce. The gelato had such good vanilla flavor and the dark chocolate sauce added to each bite. The pine nuts throughout the vanilla gelato added another layer of flavor. It was like a deconstructed klondike bar with an Italian twist!
After such a delightful meal, we hiked back up the hill to the Hotel Villa Carlotta and fell fast asleep. Just a quick note, I would recommend the Hotel Villa Carlotta to anyone visiting Florence. It’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the Duomo, but it’s so lovely and affordable. We reserved the hotel for 3 nights through Hotwire, for $65 a night! It had a nice bathroom with a shower and a decent bed. The staff was very helpful and nice. Also, the hotel has a free breakfast each morning with quite the spread including various bread, rolls, croissants, pastries along with a selection of salami, ham, prosciutto. They also had breakfast cereals, granola, and boiled eggs. The breakfast service also included tea, juice, coffee, and capuccinos/espresso.
More Florence Food Finds on Tuesday!