Moving on from Part Two of our Italian vacation, the next morning, we asked the concierge at the St. Regis for a recommendation for dinner that evening. He suggested Cestello – just across the Arno River from the hotel – and we agreed, making a 9:00 reservation.
This place was truly, stunningly excellent. The seafood crudo – which included oysters, scampi/langoustine, gambero rosso, salmon, tuna and assorted sashimi – was among the very finest I have ever had.
We also had tuna and scallop tartare, served on chilled glass bricks . . .
The spaghetti with clams – such a staple on every menu – was raised to new heights.
And the turbot for two was perfectly cooked, perfectly filleted table side , and perfectly delicious. They have an excellent wine list, as well. Let us quickly point out however, that perfection comes at a cost, so be forewarned: it is expensive. Indeed, not including wine, this was our priciest meal of the entire two-week trip!
The next morning, after complimenting the concierge on the recommendation of Cestello, we asked where we should go for Bistecca all Fiorentina? (After all, we were in Florence!) AND, for a place a bit less pricey than Cestello . . . his recommendation was Trattoria 13 Gobbi, also just a few blocks away. Like many older places, it is a bit of a “rabbit warren” of rooms, but a small portion is open to the night sky – beautifully romantic and comfortable. The place seemed equally filled with tourists and locals, and the fabled steak of Firenze did not disappoint. Neither did the wine list! Everything was perfectly tasty and delicious.
Dinner on our fourth evening was spent with family, and for our last night in Florence, I have to admit I was craving red wine and so asked the concierge for a place with a good wine list. After some thought, he suggested L’Osteria di Giovanni, and we readily agreed – after all, he hadn’t steered us wrong yet!
Let’s start by saying reservations are essential – the night we went, there were 10-12 people standing in front of the restaurant waiting for a table, but with a reservation, we were seated almost immediately. The staff is international, but all speak English (as well as several other languages) so communication was never a problem. Menus are available in both Italian and English. Maybe the restaurant was slammed the night we went, but I have never seen a waitstaff run around as fast and frenzied as here – but everything ran smoothly like a well-oiled machine or ballet.
The food was superb! My wife and I shared a huge and delicious antipasti place, split a excellent pasta dish, and then a perfectly cooked and superb Bistecca all Fiorentina – which we hadn’t planned on ordered when we arrived, but it looked so good, we just had to. And it was! The wine list is extensive – mostly from Tuscany, naturally – and reasonably priced. This is also one of the few places that has filtered water (still and sparkling), so one needn’t order a bottle(s) of water. Too full for dessert, the meal does include some house-made biscotti and glasses of Vin Santo. The biscotti are among the very best I have ever tasted. Highly recommended!
In the morning, we picked up our car rental and drove off into the countryside.