The Mercato Centrale, a gourmet oasis in the heart of Florence
Taste Paradise in the Tuscan capital
One of Italy’s most beautiful historical markets and an inherent part of food and wine tour itineraries in Europe. One year ago, Italian Umberto Montano, together with the assistance of Aldo Settembrini of the ECV group, converted the first floor of the covered nineteenth-century San Lorenzo Central Market, in Florence, in the Mercato Centrale. -, and an extraordinary place to find specialty books. Surrounded by the striking interior design of Marco Casamonti (Archea Associates, known for their legendary design of the Antinori winery in San Casciano) you may eat and shop daily from 10am to midnight.
In addition, the Mercato Centrale offers a convenient home delivery service.
Its success builds on a winning formula and solid and smart marketing efforts (check out their website!), yet without uncompromising on-going research and constant monitoring of the food quality, the market would have already fallen into oblivion. Instead, one hopes to not find it too crowded, even though it would always be well worth a visit.
Each artisan is absolutely passionate about his trade and it shows. In fact, in addition to guaranteeing utmost food excellence, transparency and traceability, it is a given that product knowledge and know-how will be shared with the visitor.
Florentine gastronomic excellence, rare Italian gems, street-food, traditional stores and eateries, all lined up like a town square in an ordered sequence and open to the public to observe the many work stations and the manual processing of the food.
Entering from via dell’Ariento, escalators take you up to the paradise for gourmands. The meat and cured meats from selected breeds of the traditional butcher shop of the small village of Pavana (Pistoia) of Nicolò Savigni are of exceptional quality. Then burgers, fried chops and hot dogs, all made from Chianina beef and bred and prepared by Toraia - Tenuta La Fratta, a historic estate of Val di Chiana.
Florentines Marco Rosi and Paolo Soderi present fried meatballs and fried Florentine specialties including many vegetable variations.
As an alternative to tasting the delicious offerings standing up, get comfortable on the food counters at the center of the structure or on the balconies underneath the elliptical dome of wrought iron and glass - the delicacies of the restaurant Tosca are prepared by Chef Francesco Morra.
For fish, crustaceans and mollusks, visit Paola Rossellini from the popular fish market Rossellini in Montecatini Terme (Pistoia), by now in the hands of the fourth generation.
Right next to the fish stand we find the cooking school of the Istituto Lorenzo de ‘Medici under the guidance of Fabrizio and Carla Guarducci.
Also Eataly can be found at the Central Market, here on the right (opposite the entrance of Via dell’Ariento), offering packaged foods, kitchen accessories and natural cosmetics.
In front, the enoscuola and wine tasting area of Luca Gardini, awarded the world’s best sommelier in 2010.
Discovering the Central Market on the opposite side, we encounter in order of sequence: the buffalo mozzarella of Angelo and Emanuele Campomaggiore of the Caseificio Antico Demanio Pignataro (Caserta); cheeses from all over the world selected by connoisseur Franco Parola of Saluzzo (Cuneo); the Chocolate Passion universe of Cristian Beduschi (chocolate, jam and ice cream) based in Tai of Pieve di Cadore (Belluno), and the breads and pastries by David Bedu, French baker and Bakery World Cup champion in 2005.
Here we also find Romualdo Rizzuti’s Pizzeria Sud, the classical and creative fresh pasta of Genoese master pasta maker Raimondo Mendolia and the Enoteca Chianti Classico.
At the center of the structure are the must-try truffle delicacies of Luciano Savini; the lampredotto of Lorenzo Nigro; a café with Sicilian specialties of Arà and sandwiches prepared by the young staff of Amblé. Across lies Birra Moretti’s vast tasting space and, to round the experience off in a healthy manner, the bio fruit and vegetables and vegetarian and vegan offerings of Marcella Bianchi’s Veg & Veg.
I’m sure by now you are also feeling a little peckish ...