When we were in Florence this past July we had one of the most memorable meals of our life. The simplicity of the dishes, the gruff, “don’t ask too many questions cause everything is good here” service and the down-home ambiance (mama in the corner, the owner is the host, the server and one of the head cooks and happy Florentines laughing, talking, eating and drinking), we left completely fulfilled. The restaurant is Coco Lezzone and even though we don’t live in Florence (and not many people even read this little blog!), I’m still secretly wanting to keep this restaurant all to myself. Truth is, the restaurant is well known with Florentines and is also recommended in a number of travel guides. So why was Florence hopping with (too many!) tourists that warm, lovely Friday evening in July, but there were barely any diners at Coco Lezzone? I’m still puzzled by this and the only thing I can come up with is that tourists can be scared of empty restaurants (especially in a foreign country). Not to mention the owner/host/server/chef Gianluca Paoli leans against the door with his ‘no-bullshit’ attitude and probably won’t smile or encourage people to come in and dine at his restaurant. It’s as if he’s saying in every language, “My food is amazing. I know it, everyone who lives in Florence knows it. I don’t give a F**K if you come or not. It’s your loss if you walk away.” Maybe it’s my east-coast/NYC attitude (not into sugarcoating or being perky or anyone who is perky – see my Rachel Ray/Sandra Lee comments in past posts), maybe it’s how I like to travel (off the beaten path and far, far away from anyone wearing a fannypack and/or those hideously ugly ‘comfy’ shoes they only seem to wear when they go on vacation), but Coco Lezzone had my name written all over it.
I was almost a little nervous walking in. There was about 3 tables taken and everyone was a local. The lights were on super bright and even though I wasn’t wearing my hot pink fanny pack (I decided to leave that at the B&B), I felt very, very American (maybe just very, very non-Italian). The menu made it difficult to order – there was a note saying that “many things on the menu are not guaranteed to be available”, but there was no mention of which items. Gianluca had another note written largely at the bottom of the menu saying things like (this is off the top of my head, mind you): WE DO NOT SERVE COFFEE! DO NOT ASK FOR COFFEE! WE DO NOT TAKE CREDIT CARDS SO THAT MEANS NO CREDIT CARDS! Of course when Gianluca came to take our order, the first thing Jonny and I requested weren’t available – I really wish I knew the cycle of seasonal ingredients availability… but this is why I love the Italians/Europeans…they will wait nine long months just to savor the taste of artichokes for two to three months a year. I settled on starting with the Pappa al Pomodoro (Bread and Tomato Soup) and having the Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Herbs for my main. I just got a shiver through my body thinking about that meal. I’m about to try the recipe for the Pappa al Pomodoro I took a picture of from the wall of Coco Lezzone to see if it even measures up! I’ll update this post tomorrow morning to let you know how it went! If it was a close comparison I’ll post the recipe too. WISH ME LUCK!
CHECK OUT THE END RESULT HERE
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