I haven’t written a review in a while, as the last (nearly) 3 years since the pandemic broke have taken such a toll on the restaurant industry- I felt they would be unfair and to some extent, frivolous. Although I’ve updated my Eater guide to Florence (and this essential 18 to Bologna), doing stand-alone reviews have fallen by the wayside.
Partly because the world of blogging is changing since I started nearly 15 years ago and partly because, highlighting a singular spot in a touristic hotspot like Florence comes with a double edge sword. On the one hand, bloggers like myself (who started without “strategy”) truly enjoy sharing and highlighting new businesses. But it comes with the risk we may not be able to go anymore once it starts catching on.
We want special places to get attention their hard work deserves. But now it seems people are recommendation hungry, and the second an influencer posts about a place they like- visitors who struggle with deciphering between a trap and a gem are now lining up outside, making it impossible for locals to get in any longer. I know this seems hypocritical seeing as I do some of these very things, but we are allowed to have multitudes in our contradicting view points. How boring would it be if we were all predictably consistent?
And I get it. On the one hand, it’s great that people give a damn about avoiding bad food but it’s gotten to an obsessive point. There is so much pressure on every single place one dines out at- it has to be the best, on a list, come highly recommended by someone we obsess with on the internet, or be “memorable”. It has to be grammable to spark envy from viewers on the other side and it has to be prove our clout and trip research saavy.
But some of the adventure in traveling comes from bad or mediocre meals, and they serve as learning experiences. Some of my favorite stories come from the worst meals I had while traveling! Or the places I stumbled upon.
I could go on to wax on poetically about how this may be rooted in our avoidance to suffer and feel pain (and I myself experience pain when I realized I’ve been suckered into an overpriced, mediocre meal) but I’ll leave it at that: some corners of food media is ruining local food culture.
However, from my tiny place I’ll review a new natural wine bar that has opened in Florence (August 2022), and I will also remark on other wine bars in Florence which deserve our attention but otherwise get overlooked.
I’m not into natural wines for the sake of natural, some of them frankly are flawed and taste terrible. I will give its marketing edge props in making nail polish smelling sour sock wine sell to the hipster masses.
However, I do appreciate a well-made artisanal wine with minimal intervention, spontaneously fermented with wild yeasts (and carefully monitored) with intention behind the use of traditional woods like chestnut or clay amphora for aging.
Nicola co-owner sommelier with lots of heart who many in Florence (and beyond) know from Coquinarius a stone’s throw from the Duomo (@coquinariusbistrot) took over a small nook on Via Maggio (which used to be a spot for arrosticini) to open up this enoteca con cucina (kitchen) with his sister Irene who whips up a simple, flavorful menu including fresh pasta rolled in-house.
The food here deliciously matches their unique wine selections highlighting extremely passionate producers who care about respecting the land from around the boot (and some French picks, too). (all photos below by Tracy Russo, find her on IG)
I highly recommend you stop by either to grab some bottles to go, stay for an Aperitivo or tuck into a plate of fresh pasta (think slow cooked game ragù bianco or ravioli stuffed with eggplant parmigiana) with a few friends (and glasses).
Their antipasto baccalà mantecato w/ marinated red onions on toasted brioche with a “metodo classico” rosato (rose’) sparkler is a match made in heaven.
Nota bene: It’s a small space and currently being run by Nicola and Irene so make sure to snag reservations in advance and bring your patience for a tasty payoff.
And this is a digestivo I’m decidedly obsessed with as it’s the first that’s not cloyingly syrupy sweet and rich in herby gentian.
Details: Address: Via Maggio, 61r Phone: +39 055 049 8258 IG
If you’re looking for more wine bars in Florence to spread the love of our now mighty dollar (seriously, I’ve never seen the USD stand up against the euro…) consider:
Dolce Emporium- this spot is on Borgo San Frediano and I really do not understand why everytime I walk by- it’s not popping. The wine selection has some hard to find gems, fascinating bubbles, spacious seating, high quality snacks and a cute location. I suspect it has to do with pricing but again, I’m in the quality vs quantity camp and willing to bike to unique locations. It’s not in the heart of all the action, but worth a stop if you’re like me and have a low tollerance for crowds. (FB page)
Enoteca Bellini- A classic near the train station and tucked in a piazza barely anyone knows about. Camilla the owner is a wonderful host and highlights a personal selection of lesser-sung wines from around the boot and France. Crunchy crostini toasts and flavorful charcuterie. (IG page)
Enoteca Vigna Nuova- I REALLY love this place for a plethora or reasons: service, selection and full kitchen in case you need a plate of pasta. The guys who work here know their s*** and please don’t ruin it or I will boycott my own blog. (IG)
Vineria Sonora- the holy grail of funky natural wines and quality tunes via a vinyl record theme (IG)
B Station Wine & Food Lab (full disclosure, I haven’t stopped by yet, will someone take one for the team and comment below?). (IG)
Vino al Vino on Borgo Ognissanti (also full disclosure, I haven’t been in ages but it’s in a part of town few venture out to) (IG)
And anywhere on this list, and of course- any of our culinary tours of Florence (wink wink)
In your wine loving trust,