By a fateful accident of texts exchanged between me and a pal we ended up dining at Coco Lezzone for what should have been a no-nonsense weekday lunch date. I suggested Coco Filippo and said pal replied “oh, you must mean Coco Lezzone!” Since I never heard of this trattoria before, truth be told, I wrote off Filippo and said to Lezzone we go!
If there is a historical Florentine trattoria with delicious aromas wafting about, cute little grandmas inside peeling vegetables and a down-home kitchen with modest Italian time-capsule decor, I am mesmerized and charmed. This is how Lezzone hooked me in, inspiring my curiosity to peek around in the kitchen and quiz the staff on things like “where do you get your vegetables?” (the answer was Mercato San Lorenzo). My eating friend, with the same love for eateries with soul and procurement of timeless Tuscan dishes, I believe was captivated in a similar fashion. They were kind enough to let us peek around the kitchen and to sniff around, especially the umami gold mine of their San Miniato white truffles.
One of the grandma proudly points out photos of Prince Charles as previous diners hanging neatly on the wall, along with other members of notoriety such as Pavarotti throughout the decades. The walls adorned proudly with old newspaper clippings raving about what seems to be an “institution” of Florentine fare.
We sit down and another nonna comes to take order. We ask for a menu, and almost as if I offended by asking as she firmly replied “I am the menu.” I can respect that!
She explains the menu being out of date and lists off the primi including ribollita soup and various sauced pastas which are all farfalle, “butterfly” shaped. No fresh tagliatelle, maccheroni, pici or pappardelle which would be more Tuscan. In one of these pastas she mentions truffle and we are sold, I took the peasant soup ribollita because I’m constantly on the search for the best bowl of it in Florence.
Whether this was a coincidence or not, the menu is sat on our table after we ordered and we discovered our truffle pasta was listed at 38 euros. We attempted to call nonna over to cancel the order, but it was too late.
Granted, it made some sense for this plate to be more costly than the others. As you can see, there was a good blanket of white truffle stacked and layered in. My friend told me that it may have be an expensive year for white truffles from San Miniato, so I get it. If you’re curious to learn about truffles in Tuscany, I suggest you read this past post on my truffle hunting experience in San Miniato.
The point is that we asked for a menu and they didn’t give us one until after we ordered. Their defense could be “some of the items aren’t on the menu, that’s why we offer human menus.” But transparency should be offered when requested.
The point I want my readers to take away is this: If you ask for a menu and an eatery replies instead it’s a human version don’t give you one, ask for their prices. It’s not a rampant occurrence, so don’t feel as if from now on you should be on your guard.
Florence thus far hasn’t received the same reputation from the media concerning rip-off dramas erupted from Venice and Rome.
Despite what some people may think upon reading this, I feel that was not our fault for not asking the price. We asked for the menu, which is basically the same thing.
Since this was a trattoria, perhaps we didn’t 38 euro plate of pasta? Pretty honest assumption.
That being said, there is a line between understanding you are in a city among millions of tourists and foreign students, some of who can be culturally insensitive. I get that it’s frustrating. But I don’t believe I was being unreasonable for expecting a menu when asked. Consider our flop a cautionary tale that can be helpful to the next.
The service was courteous and not bitter, they were indeed very sweet and pleasant. I’m almost confused by the negative tone to my experience here.
Some positive notes: we also ordered a sort of ground filet “Crochette di filetto” in a mouthwatering, tangy savor-rich tomato sauce. They had baked these polpette in lieu of pan-frying them, which is also practiced. It seems that the second courses (meat-based) were on point. Juicy texture and specked with aromatic herbs. The mains would be worth going back for. However, just out of principle I’m not sure I’d ever return.
Take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Is there anyone out there who has been to Trattoria Coco Lezzone? I’d love to know your thoughts and if you think this was just a series of unfortunate coincidences. I’d like to think it was, it seems like such a cute eatery and the mains would be worth a second chance.
In your honest opinion,
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