Aperitif in the wine
Enotecas of choice for a refined Tuscan aperitivo
Rediscover the cult of the aperitivo, releasing it from the collective imagination that too often expects it to be tied to wines of doubtless quality and large portions of food that often substitute, rather than precede, dinner. An interesting Florentine reality is precisely that of small enotecas that select quality products and labels, marrying the enogastronomic tradition which has always characterized our region with a refined attention to the smaller and lesser-known productive realities.
Which are they? If you’re downtown, just a few steps from Piazza Duomo, in Piazza dell’Olio, you’ll find Fiaschetteria Nuvoli. Ex-canteen of the Archbishop’s residence, the history of this location begins more than two hundred years ago, when a nobleman began selling wine that came from the hills surrounding the city. After many generations, it came under the proprietorship of Benito Nuvoli in 1986 and today it’s his son Rossano who runs the place. Far from the tourist ambiance that you can imagine exists in this area, the fiaschetteria is frequented by genial Florentines, designers and denizens of the fashion world and of the film scene incognito, neighborhood professionals and the most curious of tourists. On the walls are historic photos by Giulio Torrini (Rossano Nuvoli’s grandfather, a famous Florentine photojournalist who immortalized the city’s historic moments and famous persons on the occasion of their visits to Florence, from Charlie Chaplin to the young Kennedy, from Elizabeth Taylor to Sophia Loren).
A recent and interesting place in Via Sant’Elisabetta is Uscio & Bottega: a most intimate and refined ambiance, they’re the “cousins” of Coquinarius restaurant, and they boast the same pursuit of wines from small producers, most of all Tuscan, with a particular attention given to organic and biodynamic wines and for unique gastronomic pairings. Some examples? Crostini with figs, gorgonzola and grapes or pancetta with apricots and dried prunes, besides plates of cured meats and cheeses always from small but delicious local farms and producers. Open from late morning (a must is also the stuffed schiacciate if you’re in the area around lunchtime) until 9:00 pm.
Moving over to the Oltrarno, stop in the San Niccolò neighborhood and try Bevo Vino. A very colorful and cheerful place, run with passion by three young people who privilege native Tuscan wines and traditional dishes reinvented with a light touch, also paying attention to vegetarian tastes. Also interesting are the offerings of organized events, from October to April, that include jazz concerts, tango and milonga every Thursday and Sunday. An eclectic clientele, you can find students as well as neighborhood professionals, bohemians from the Oltrarno and tourists in search of a bit of that characteristic Tuscan atmosphere of days gone by.
Proceed toward Santo Spirito: heading down from the Costa San Giorgio you’ll find yourself in Piazza dei Rossi, at Le volpi e l’uva, an institution for more than twenty years for a good aperitivo (or for lunch, they’re open from morning on). The best of quality at reasonable prices is their philosophy, and the place is always very crowded. There are over forty wines by the glass, always from small Italian, French and Spanish producers.
In Piazza Pitti, right in front of the wonderful Palazzo, is Pitti Gola e Cantina: open in 2009 by three young partners who emphasize a great selection of wines, from Franciacorta bubbly to young or aged reds. The selection is vast. Besides plates of cured meats and cheeses, a must not-to-be-missed is the chicken liver terrine. I
n Via Santo Spirito is the youthful offspring of Santo Bevitore restaurant, one of the best-known Florentine eateries, who celebrated its tenth anniversary in September. Santino, open from 10 to 11 pm, cozy atmosphere, informal and refined, it’s the ideal choice for a quick lunch, an aperitivo or light dinner. Among the things not to be missed, the mini stuffing of Fassona from the Zivieri butcher shop or the raw milk pecorino cheeses from the Caseificio Bacciotti, or the home-grown tiny artichokes. To go with it all, even here a good glass of wine from as estate like Montemaggio, which produces only two thousand bottles in Radda in Chianti or, among whites, the certified organic Pachàr.