Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BBQ in Florence, Italy

Giulia told me to meet her at Piazza Tasso this evening for dinner. I just assumed that we would be eating at the Vecchia Bettola or at Tranvia, two popular and well-known restaurants in the area. Instead, she took me just a few doors down from Tranvia to a new place called BBQ.
Being an American in Italy, I am often confused for someone whose primary sustenance are hamburgers and coca cola. As a result, I am a little 'touchy' when an Italian suggests a place called BBQ.
The name is most likely only bothersome to myself, an American, since it immediately evokes memories of fried okra and hush-puppies at Smithfield's BBQ, found at several exit stops in North Carolina.
From the Italian perspective, the name BBQ is probably a plus for the locals- it is foreign enough to catch their attention, yet familiar enough to get the point across: WE GRILL THINGS AND MAKE THEM DELICIOUS. Qui si mangia bene la ciccia.
Menu:
Usual suspects of Florentine menus: Antipasto Toscano (mixed appetizer with prosciutto, salami, crostini "fegatini" and tomato bruschetta, fresh and stagionato pecorino cheeses... sotto aceti: artichokes and mushrooms- made in house!).
Less usual and might I add, genius: Pecorino grigliato with veggies, souffle of pumpkin.
Before I continue, worth mentioning: 0 km. All the veggies used are bought directly from a nearby farmer. Hence, my salad was flavorful and tough, the way lettuce should be in December.
On the grill: chicken, dry ribs, Florentine steak. I opt for the dry ribs, as I eat them whenever possible if there is a wood-burning grill involved. I hesitate to call them 'dry,' as they are juicy, flavorful and crispy around the edges. They bring me the chicken with my ribs. Though I generally don't swoon for chicken it was fantastic. Tasty and not at all dry.
To get some fiber in, I also order the cannellini beans- a staple of the Tuscan diet. These are prepared undoubtedly in-house, and served in a terra cotta terrine.
Finally, dessert. I can barely fit it in, but my friend insists that they make a fantastic cheesecake.
(yes, as in cheesecake- the thing we eat in America. Ever noticed how EVERYONE in America serves tiramisu? Well, everyone in Italy is serving cheesecake. And I can't take it anymore!!!)
I must admit, their cheesecake was good. And that means a lot, considering that I am cheese-caked out.
Ambience:
Genius. Tiny little place with two dining areas. One is at ground level, and seats about 30 people, while another about the same size is downstairs. White walls, tables and chairs make the space feel larger but still cozy thanks to the soft lighting (important and hard to achieve in the land of neon).
The Catch:
My only complaint: I was offered a "prosecco" at the beginning of the meal, but was instead served a dry sparkling rosato. First, there was no prosecco grape in this concoction. More importantly, this "dry" wine was actually a little too sweet and not at all fresh. This wine is not worthy of its surroundings. I'm sure they'll figure it out soon. They've only been open since November 29th!
Overall, pleased with the food, the atmosphere, and convinced that the wine I was served was just a fluke, since they had a great selection of reds, like TERRE A MANO's Carmignano.