Where to eat Florence: Da Que Ganzi
The historical centre of Florence is quite small, and despite not being laid out in a grid like many modern cities, quite easy to navigate. On a very hot night we headed out from the air-conditioned confines of our hotel towards an osteria that came highly recommended, Da Que Ganzi on Via Ghibellina.
From the number of ristorante, trattoria or osteria that line the streets of every Italian city, the local folk are obsessed with eating out. For a visitor, there’s almost too much choice. Greedy Girl started this Italian tour by attempting to look at menus; that usually resulted in someone dashing from inside the restaurant to try to drag us in. Not a good look. That, and the spruikers abounding in Venice and Rome in particular, is a sure fire way of getting Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband to do a quick U-turn.
Quite aside from all that, there’s very little point in reading menus – to a large degree, they all do the same dishes. In Florence, for example, you’d struggle to find a venue that doesn’t offer the sought-after bistecca alla fiorentina. Greedy Girl wonders how they manage to set themselves apart from the others.
At this particular restaurant, it was undoubtedly the service. An authentic welcome, enthusiastic suggestions (particularly where the wine was concerned) and the proffering of a business card at the end of the night, with hopes expressed that we’d return on any future trips to Florence. Wow. It was a level of warmth matched only by the soaring temperatures outside.
Opting just for a couple of glasses of wine, we were intent on having a light dinner. We ordered a starter to share and then gluttonous husband announced he’d like the bistecca. Hah. These huge t-bone steaks are Florence’s ‘go to’ dish but they are absolutely enormous. A couple at the table next to us pointed out the remnants of their steak – that both of them had tried to finish, and failed miserably. The waiter suggested gluttonous husband try a variation on the bistecca theme, a tagliata. Done.
Our first dish was a red onion flan. This delectably light-textured morsel rested in a dish of parmesan ‘fondue’. Even though Greedy Girl was labouring under the sheer volume of food consumed on this trip, even she dipped into the bread basket to mop up every last trace of the sauce. Utterly delicious. We had a glass of Sangiovese to pair with this. Perfetto!
Next up, gluttonous husband moved to his tagliata di manzo. This was the coarse side of the t-bone steak, grilled over coals and cut into strips, served simply with roasted potatoes. Initially, he looked at the colour of the meat on the plate and thought it a little overcooked for his tastes, but, as he chomped on, came to appreciate the rareness. It was still a gigantic serving and while he tried not to fill up on the potatoes, they were just too good, tasting as though they’d been roasted in a very good oil. The drizzle of a balsamic reduction also worked well with the meat. The waiter brought him a slightly heavier red wine to accompany the dish.
Greedy Girl was taken with the idea of a langoustine risotto (pictured at the top of this post). Beautifully presented, the risotto was cooked perfectly, slightly oozy from the stock and being finished with butter. Gluttonous husband’s skills in levering seafood from shells were brought to bear and he was rewarded with a small piece of the chargrilled, sweet langoustine.
Done. We paid the bill and prepared to head into the night and find a bar for gluttonous husband to sample another Amaro, having fallen for the Italian tradition of a ‘digestivo’.
A note on the service: we called ahead to reserve a table, but many diners who turned up at the front door were turned away, even though there were quite a few vacant seats. It was the restaurant’s last night before its annual summer holiday and Greedy Girl estimates they’d worked down their stores to ensure as little as possible went to waste. It’s a cautionary tale if you’re travelling in Italy in August – a great many places close down for their summer break. At any event, do your research and ask your hotel to call and make a booking, lest you be disappointed – and hungry.
Da Que Ganzi
Via Ghibellina, 70, Florence