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April 3, 2015

Irene. The new parlour in Florence

Fulvio Pierangelini and Felice Limosani together for Irene, an innovative project in piazza della Repubblica

Irene, a ‘place’ that we believe could be a pleasant reference point for the Florentine public. This is the new idea launched by the Hotel Savoy: ‘simple’ foods in a carefully designed environment.

The ingredients for success are all there, starting with the name, which brings us to story number one: Irene was the mother of Sir Rocco Forte, a beautiful fifties woman (Rocco Forte is the family behind the group of hotels and resorts to which the Savoy belongs, ed). However, it was not simply chosen as a ‘tribute to Grandma’: it is, in a broader sense, a celebration of the woman, of the thousands of inextricable facets of the female.

“Irene is a bit insolent, free, contemporary, charming, bold, mischievous, irreverent and cheeky,” says Fulvio Pierangelini, the enthusiastic face that lies behind this new project (story number two). A female restaurant. “The kitchen is the woman’s history: we men walked into this intimate world and although we have been successful, we are still intruders. Women are the masters of the gesture, the beauty of the gesture.”

Irene looks out to the city, with an exquisite outdoor area for spring evenings overlooking Piazza della Repubblica, and in these spaces it tells us new stories. Starting from the menu, story number three. The names, surnames, producers and provenance of the raw materials are listed to emphasise the sense of belonging to the area, without exaggeration or ostentation. “We do not give it meaning through a folkloric interpretation of the dish. If you close your eyes, you sense it. What you eat is the result of the attention and care that we give it, from the purchase of raw materials to the cooking and the presentation,” continues Pierangelini. “We will not be arrogant and ‘revisit the Tuscan tradition’ but we will visit its history respectfully”.

The great classics of a hotel’s menu, best-selling international cuisine, will have an authentic Tuscan touch, and they will accompany typical traditional dishes. The prices are reasonable and there is a careful selection of wines.

Some examples? Octopus salad with coloured beetroot and radicchio, soup with vegetables from Irene’s greengrocer, Certaldo onion soup, a duet of liver and foie gras, Tuscan Mugello veal burgers, accompanied by pickles and marinated zucchini with mint and other delicacies. What matters is the quality, and at Irene it is guaranteed by the most Italian Chef of all, Fulvio Pierangelini, one of the first to get involved with the critics and the public, from the historic restaurant, the Gambero Rosso: among his many provocations was his legendary spaghetti with tomato sauce that was the same price as the lobster, “because this dish brings back memories of your childhood, of your family history, and people can judge better with recognisable things and this is the ultimate challenge.”

Nonetheless, we know that success is achieved by a team (story number four). The ambassador of this game will be Paul, the incredibly charming landlord with his savoir-faire.

In the kitchen, Pierangelini’s hands will be those of Giovanni Cosmai, a young chef with a great desire to experiment, while the artistic direction of this new parlour, which is not just a restaurant but a place to meet, is entrusted to Felice Limosani interpretive magic. To Irene, we wish good luck. 


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