There are so many traditional places for aperitivi in Florence where you will find the bar covered in bite-sized offerings for an extra Euro or two on the price of your drink. Now there is an interesting alternative to this rather jaded concept. The ristobar ‘Italian Tapas’ is just off Piazza Santo Spirito. Opened in November last year, by brothers Marco and Matteo Laporta (originally from Grosetto), Italian Tapas is a remarkable departure from traditional Florentine fare.
“We came up with the idea one night, when we were out in Florence and realised that there was nothing here to match the concept of the contemporary Spanish Tapas bar, so we decided we would create it here in Florence,” said Marco. “As I am a chef and Matteo’s background is marketing, it seemed an obvious thing to work together. We changed things a lot when we started, through listening to people’s’ feedback and now feel we have got the balance right.”
Marco explained that the concept of dining in the new ristobar came from his brother’s experience in Barcelona, Spain. “Our aim was to offer food and drink of the same high standard, something which doesn’t really happen with the traditional concept of aperitivi in Florence,” said Marco. With a monthly change of menu, the regional and locally-sourced ingredients are combined with great culinary skill. With such a commitment to quality, this is a real find.
“We decided to include vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options on our menu. In fact, we found the challenge of this was a real trigger to our creativity in cooking.”
In design, a contemporary and comfortable restaurant, this place offers delicately-flavoured tapas of purely Italian, locally-sourced origin. The ‘Tortino di verza ripieno di cacio e pere’ (savoy cabbage pie with sheep’s cheese and pear, €7) is presented with an enviable and relaxed nonchalance, but in a way which highlights the extraordinary attention to both flavour and presentation. The balsamic reduction was a delightful twist on these perfectly balanced flavours.
The ‘Tonno, fagioli e cipolla’ (tuna, beans and onions, €9) was a vibrant and surprising combination for a Florentine establishment – bursting with sesame but restrained on the palate.
The dolce we chose was the Zuppa Inglese. Normally a combination of left-over fruit and resembling an ‘Eton Mess’. In this case, it was hardly a sherry trifle, but a sophisticated fruit-filled sponge and quite perfect Creme Anglaise/Patissiere with the addition of quality grated chocolate.
Apart from the standard tapas menu they also offer a Pincho’s Menu (18:30-21:00) where you can choose three items from a selection including Crocchette di Zucchine, Finocchiona, Italian ‘Tapas’ and Spuma di Bufala su carasau, plus a drink for a very reasonable €12 per person.
This is the rub. Sorry to anyone offering traditional aperitivi in Florence. I want to go back to Italian Tapas. Frequently. There can be no greater endorsement than that.
Via S. Agostino 11/R