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Osteria de L’Ortolano – foodie spot near the Accademia Gallery

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While I can be the ‘queen’ of restaurant recommendations by zone in Florence, Italy – the one area that I have always been a little ‘eh’ about was around Piazza San Marco and the Galleria della Accademia.

I received an invite recently to check out a small deli on via degli alfani in this area which unbeknownst to me has been operating for over 50 years, the lovely tiny Osteria de L’Ortolano. Owned by a friendly couple Marta & Massimo, who warmly greeted us with flutes of champagne and fried vegetables upon arrival. Well, allright then! You can win me over with fried food any day ;-). 

ortolanoThis cute place takes pride in what they create, getting much of their seasonal produce from Podere Torricella. You can stop and order food to go or take a ‘sosta’ rest from touring Florence’s most famous art galleries.

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While this place may look like a take-away deli, they have a room in the back for lunch & dinner. Colorful and cute, I liked browsing their jars of marmalade and various Tuscan yumminess before sitting down for a taste of their spring menu.

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We started off with a ‘millefoglie’ of eggplant & tomato with delicate paprika served with a glass {or two} or Nebbiolo” Metodo Classico Rosè di Ettore Germano [great choice]. I have seen a fair amount of ‘millefoglie’ variations on menus across Florence which really is a way to stack and layer dishes, the word itself meaning ‘a thousand leaves’. This dish was a great way to begin this gastronomic evening, the tomatoes were out of this world – it just got you curious enough to anticipate the next course.

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Next up was penne with gragnano I.G.P. (type of fish) with a turmeric sauce, carbonaro nero & asparagus. While the pasta for me was great, the stand out star was the Tuscan vodka ‘O de V’  {yes I said that right! made & distilled with wine and grapes} and which we ate with this seafood pasta dish. Strange sounding? I thought so too, but both the vodka and fish were actually complimentary and an interesting combination I would try again. The vodka is served in ‘tubes’ resembling cigar holders placed in a glass of ice and then poured in a cup to be sipped along with your meal.  

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The last savory treat was roasted guinea fowl with a sauce of Montecarlo and wild chicory, served with Montecarlo ‘Etichetta Blu, Az Buonamico (2012) wine. This was awesome, I am a huge fan of all types of birds and this was certainly no exception, a rich flavor that really went well with the bitter chicory. #winning

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As we were being served, Massimo took the time to explain each dish and you could really see how passionate he was about his cuisine and this menu. I loved how much he stressed that both him and his wife decide the menu together, I reckon many people could take a lesson from that sort of collaborative relationship.

The grand finale was a variation of different torta Martarè (in a liquid, creme and cake form). This delightfulness is created using four different kinds of cacao {at least 75% from different areas around the world, namely South America} in various dosages with butter, egg, sugar & Jamaican rum. It’s consistency is super rich and melt-in-your-mouth worthy – a must try!

Not ever being a crazy chocolate kind gal, this cake is something I would eat for breakfast lunch and dinner – it’s that good! I also really enjoyed the dessert wine, ‘Recioto della Valpolicella, Roccolo Grassi (2002)’ . Probably one of the best dessert wines I have ever tried {and usually cost a pretty penny too}.

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How much? 

The antipasti {appetizer dishes} are all 8 euros, very reasonable for Florence, especially when you consider just how awesome that millefoglie was. The primi {first courses} are all 9 euros (and you can add the vodka if you want to mimic how we tried it) for an extra price while secondi {second courses} are 14 euros and dolci {desserts}| 7 euros {which is quite high but man, oh man did I love this dessert!}.

So next time you happen to be in this area, I highly recommend having dinner here. I love that I now have a great foodie recommendation for the Piazza San Marco, Accademia area of town and I am certain you will love both Marta & Massimo, their happy energy is contagious at best.

Osteria de L’ Ortolano
Via degli Alfani n° 91/r – 50121 Firenze

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