The glass-plated sixth-floor restaurant of the Westin Excelsior affords breath-taking views of Florence as far as the horizon. Now it boasts a chef as far-sighted and compelling as the vistas.
Matteo Lorenzini is a known entity: he was one of the three under 30-year-old chefs who rocked the Tuscan restaurant scene by winning a Michelin star for Le Tre Lune at Calenzano in 2014. The restaurant quickly closed down for reasons that have never become fully clear. Sadly, I never made it out to Calenzano, so when the invitation arrived in my inbox I felt “culinarily” obliged to leave The Florentine editor-less for a few hours.
His signature dish? A black-as-night squid ink risotto with the lightest white squid film in monochrome contrast on one side, which pleases the eye before it tantalizes the taste buds. Complex, grain-perfect and high on dairy (lard and sour cream) cut through with just the right edge of lemon and lime acidity, it’s a rice dish that will have milanesi taking the Frecciarossa down from the fashion capital for dinner in Florence.
Lorenzini describes his cuisine as “Francophile”, a nod to his six-year training with the great Alain Ducasse perhaps, because what the Siena-born chef is actually creating are dishes that embody the Italy of today: international, immediate and intriguing on every level.
P.S. A sweet afterthought: Lorenzini’s Like a Mont Blanc is a dessert destined to move mountains. A redesign of a France-meets-Italy classic, the play on textures (soft and crispy), flavours (sweet and nutty) and shapes (all sorts) will remain imprinted on your memory as long as the views out of Sesto on Arno’s unparalleled windows. And that’s a very long time.
SE·STO on Arno at the Westin Excelsior
Piazza Ognissanti 3, Florence