Showing posts with label Piazza Santo Spirito. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Piazza Santo Spirito. Show all posts

Friday, May 6, 2011

Trattoria Casalinga: The Price is Right for This Eatery in Florence

Located near the Piazza Santo Spirito south of the Arno River, Trattoria Casalinga offers one of the best culinary deals in all of Florence. The place is sprawling. Set in a Renaissance building with lofty high ceilings, there are two large dining rooms crammed with simply-dressed tables. Unfortunately, the eatery lost most of its grand Renaissance appeal during renovations through the years. Modern pine panels line the walls, and plaster covers the once-beautiful cross-ribbed ceiling. In other words, it's no Pitti Palace (which, by the way, is close by). But what Casalinga lacks in design, it amply makes up for in good regional cooking at bargain prices.

We skip the Chianti tonight and opt for another variety of Tuscan grape, Montescudaio, light with a delicately dry flavor. The liter of house wine, coupled with a basket of fresh bread and rolls, makes us think we're in the right place.

Ignoring the regular menu, we choose our dinner from the piatti del giorno, or "the dishes of the day" hand printed on sheet of butcher paper. The ravioli alla panna, a generous helping of small, round pasta packed with creamy ricotta, aglow in a cream sauce and attractively garnished with bits of ham, is as sensational as the Florentine favorite pappardelle al coniglio, wide ribbon noodles flavorfully paired with a robust tomato-based rabbit sauce.

Tonight, like every night, Casalinga is crowded. Everyone from starving students and artists to international tourists pack the room or press their noses against the glass, ready to pounce on the next vacant table. Dinnertime chatter echoes loudly against the white-washed dining room walls. The energy is lively but not overbearing.

Feeling the pressure to eat and run, we proceed to our next course of faraona arrosto, a succulent, roasted guinea hen whose fresh, gamy flavor is far better than chicken, and trippa alla fiorentina, a Tuscan specialty of slowly braised tripe and minced beef in a hearty tomato sauce, dashingly presented with a healthy sprinkle of parmigiano cheese. Other dishes range from a hearty ribollita (a thick Tuscan soup with bread and beans) or tagliatelle panna e funghi (pasta with cream and mushrooms) to the delicate carpaccio di bresaola con rucola e parmigiano (thin slices of raw beef with arugula and Parmesan cheese) or cinghiale polenta e funghi (wild boar with wild mushrooms and polenta).

Follow the map to Trattoria Casalinga
After dinner, we walk a block to the Piazza Santo Spirito, where a concert is underway. The sounds of Mozart provide a wonderful dessert (instead of Casalinga's signature cantuccini or almond biscuits) as we sit with our backs against the outside wall of the massive cathedral.

Trattoria Casalinga
Via dei Michelozzi, 9
Phone: +39 06 218 624
Closed Sunday
Approximate cost of our meal: 45 euro