Last year, I discovered a pretty chic gourmet nook in Florence smack dab in the historical center yet in a little backstreet that the massive hoards would have difficulty in finding. Everybody wants “off-the-beaten-path in Florence” in one of the most heavily stomped cities in Europe. If there was a literal representation of a quality food & wine bar off the beaten path in Florence, it was Uscio e Bottega:.
Sadly, without much explanation and what seemed like an abandoned space with tumbleweeds blowing by, Uscio e Bottega closed its doors last winter very mysteriously. In May, just like magic, one of the owners reappeared with the gourmet bag of tricks from Uscio e Bottega but under a new name Uva Nera and on a wider path (Borgo Ognissanti) yet still considerably unbeaten.
There are tons of locales to dwell, drink, eat and basically be a lush in Florence. Why else am I here? But I must say that In Florence, I usually stick to my tried and true because there is nothing worse than bad service, overpriced wine and mediocre cheese. It helps if there is some eye candy behind the bar as well (let’s be honest here). In Seattle, I rarely go to the same place since there is a plethora of new bars and locales constantly sprouting up. In Florence, I am a little more Italian and don’t like deviating much from my spots.
Uva Nera, get used to my face (and appetite). I will probably be one of your regulars.
Nice try- thought you could get rid of me, huh? Disappear, even put up a sign at Uscio e Bottega ‘gone for the holidays’, throw me off track…even opening under a new alias. No, no. I know good wine and bites when I see them. It was only a matter of time before I would track you down again. By the way, nice choice in dessert wine…and barkeep;)
Here is the low-down:
Uva Nera is a small, vintage decorated wine bar/caffe-like space. They have old school sewing tables for seating (don’t sew and wine, though) as well as plush, rickety theater chairs from the time people actually used to go to the cinema. They have a unique selections of wines by the glasses, ranging from teeny tiny mom & pop local producers to wine spectator worthy names like Castello di Ama in Chianti Classico and Panizzi in San Gimignano.
My only critique would be that in this African heatwave that is plaguing Florence (drama queen drama queen) is to put the red wines in some sort of cool sleeve and serve them a bit chilled. I suspect that in this heat, red wine is not being kept at normal “room” temperatures. Red wines served above room temperature taste a bit acidic (not to be confused with high acidity). That’s just my preference and suggestion to folks ordering red wine in Florence these days- some places have cold bottle holder sleeves to cool down warm wine. Not an ice bucket, though!
To compliment the wines, the bites are nice like local, pungent stinky blue cheeses, nutty sheep’s milk pecorino, herbed and savory Tuscan pate crostini on fresh baked bread, olives and more. It’s only noon but I would like it to be Aperitivo time already now having scribbled this note about Uva Nera.
To sum it up, Uva Nera is a prime spot for a gourmet Aperitivo with wine and nibbles, a charcuterie type lunch, a post dinner drink, vin santo and cantuccini stop and a sweet hideaway from the crowded center with cheese and wine. When I say this would be a good spot to get Aperitivo in Florence, they don’t do the buffet, fixed price Aperitivo. I mean you should get a glass of wine and a small snack board in the the fashion (and sake) of Aperitivo.
Uva Nera Borgo Ognissanti 25r Florence, Italy Phone 055 012 1189
Have any favorite food and wine haunts I should know about in Florence? Leave a comment!
In your lush trust,
The Curious Appetite
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