PRESSPHOTO Firenze,Buca dell’Orafo Foto Gianluca Moggi/New Press Photo
Located a few steps away from the Ponte Vecchio in what was at one time a medieval palace, this restaurant serves a traditional menu of dishes made with regional ingredients. Their beef is sourced from a farm in the Maremma countryside and the wine list highlights Tuscan producers. Even the restaurant’s name is a nod to the local culture—orafo means “goldsmith,” and this neighborhood was where gold workshops were once located. Start with Tuscan white beans drizzled with olive oil, with a serving of fennel salami, then move on to the pasta course. (The taglierini ai piselli freschi, pasta with fresh peas, is particularly good in season.) For dessert, try the pear slow-cooked in wine or cantucci cookies dipped into vin santo, a strong sweet wine.
North Italian Comfort Food
Armed with only a recommendation, a description, and the general location of the restaurant—but no actual restaurant name—we found Ristorante Buca dell’Orafo, near the Ponte Vecchio. The small restaurant is below street level off an alley-wide passage close to the Arno River. Even though it’s been there for decades, the current incarnation under chef-owner Giordano Monni delivers wonderful Tuscan basics and seasonally-inspired interpretations of northern Italian specialties. It was the best restaurant recommendation, with the worst directions, I’ve ever been given.