Lunch at Mario’s

Tom Fork
January 17, 2013

Trattoria Mario's is not for the faint-hearted. It is not the place for those who prefer a quiet dining experience with an elegant ambiance, a romantic view of the Ponte Vecchio, an impeccable wait staff, shiny silver cutlery and freshly pressed tablecloths and napkins. Mario's is chaotic, loud and cramped. You can't make reservations and you have no choice but to sit on wooden stools, elbow-to-elbow with strangers. It's open only at lunch and you'll be lucky enough to eat there before 1:30pm: the long queue is evident in the perennial mass of would-be customers standing around on via Rosina.

 

Run by three generations of the Colzi family since 1953, Mario's serves authentic Florentine home cooking. The menu changes daily, although some stars make repeat appearances. Expect fish on Fridays, braciola on Wednesdays and ribollita and their mouth-watering lombatina every day. That the ingredients are fresh and seasonal is ensured by its close proximity to the Central Market-and the fact that Mario's has no freezer. Even the mixed salad and boiled potatoes are delicious.

 

But what makes it unique in Florence, and maybe even in Italy, is the fact that it's not you, the customer, who decides. It's the Colzi family. And it's the food, itself. So, when Fabio Colzi finally calls your name and you take your place at one of the bare-wood tables, leave your pretensions at the entrance. This is a trattoria with history, soul-and an attitude. There are rules you must follow when ordering, and, in case you forget, they are handwritten on sheets of paper and proudly posted to the glass dividers that separate the kitchen from the dining area.

 

Customers must not complain about the long wait, the noise and chaos. They are not allowed to ask for ketchup or mayonnaise, coffee or wifi. Customers may not talk about (or even mention for that matter) the ACF Fiorentina's archrival, Juventus (Mario's is a conclave of die-hard Viola fans). But that's not all: the bistecca alla fiorentina is only served rare and you must eat the meat right off the bone-if you don't, Romeo Colzi will call you on it from the kitchen!

 

Most importantly, at Mario's, everyone eats together: Qui si mangia con quegl'altri dal 1953! declares one, fundamental rule. You'll find yourself part of an eclectic mix of local habitués and tourists, all there to eat, be merry and make friends.

 

So give in to the authentic cuisine, camaraderie and good times-if even just for one afternoon. By the end of your lunch at Mario's, you'll feel like you've eaten with family.

 

Trattoria Mario

via Rosina 2r, Florence

T 055/218550, www.trattoriamario.com

Open for lunch, Monday to Saturday

 

Photo Credits: Sofie Delauw http://thecuriouseater.com

 

 

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