Florence’s restaurant scene is more happening than ever this September with three new openings in the Oltrarno worth checking out: San Niccolò 39, Essenziale and Santarosa Bistrot.
San Niccolò 39
Paul Feakes, former restaurant manager at Irene Firenze, at the Savoy Hotel, tells us about his new venture in via San Niccolò.
“San Niccolò 39 is a new restaurant opening in the space that was once Filipepe in Via San Niccolo, Florence. San Niccolo 39, or SO39 as we fondly call it, is a chic space in the lovely neighbourhood between the historical centre of Florence and the foot of piazzale Michelangelo. The space is chic and comfortable with a small terrace in front of the restaurant, a beautiful raised covered garden behind and air-conditioned tables surrounded by contemporary art inside. The menu starts from a base of Tuscan dishes, all of them seasonal and local but all presented with an aesthetic for today’s tastes. We continue with a large selection of fresh fish from salt-baked sea bass to our exciting baccalà fishburger served in a homemade seeded bread bun. You’ll also find a great beef tartare and fillet steak along with vegetarian and vegan dishes. Our young chef Vanni is creative and skilled in cooking simple dishes that are packed with flavours – his spaghetti with anchovy oil is well worth a try. We’ll be offering regular weekly specials such a tagine made by our Moroccan colleague in the kitchen as well as top-quality mozzarella to name just two. San Niccolò offers a simple yet chic and sophisticated menu and ambience to enjoy for a simple midweek bite or weekend dinner with friends or family.”
Opening September 8
Via San Niccolo 39, Florence
FB San Niccolò 39
Chef Simone Cipriani gives us the lowdown on his new restaurant in piazza del Cestello.
Essenziale, where Pane e Vino once existed in piazza del Cestello, is a continuation of self-expression in my dishes, as if they were an extension of myself. It’s been a long and soul-searching process, in the last four years I totally changed menus every 45 days or so; I was creating about 100 dishes in a year! But while this continual creative flow has been important, it didn’t allow me to focus on other things that, over time, I’ve realized are necessary, or rather essential. When I’ve had the time to stop and reflect about what is truly important in a restaurant, I came up with two crucial points: flavour and wellbeing – it might seem simple, but the direction that top restaurants have taken in recent years is not always based on these principles.
Florence is my home. I basically grew up here and I believe it has much to offer: its history, the potential of traditional food, the dimension of a small city that welcomes people from all over the world every day. A city brimming with influences.
A solo or team project?
Essenziale is all about the team. We share our ideas and put them into practice through teamwork. The aim is to ensure that everyone is happy here and can express themselves in relation to their surroundings. Essenziale aims to be a top restaurant: the food must be superb and well considered, the service attentive but informal.
Creative or traditional?
Without creativity tradition wouldn’t exist. Italian tradition came about during times in history when we only had a few “impoverished” ingredients available to us. The best creatives in the kitchen were our grandparents. Creativity is just as necessary now, to make sure that our traditions don’t use their value and that we spark renewed interest in them.
Essenziale: a fun experience or just dinner?
I hope it will be both. Restaurants are about eating; it’s not easy to wow people, but we love to try, so there’ll be lots of fun, yes.
Opening September 15
Piazza di Cestello 3, Florence
Everyone’s talking about Santarosa.
Everyone’s talking about Santarosa. Tucked away in the lovely garden behind Trattoria Sabatino in via Pisana (which celebrates its 60th anniversary this October), Santa Rosa is fast becoming The Place To Aperitivo in Florence. Decked out in a funky modern aesthetic, grab a Spritz and tagliere or choose from the seriously good wine list, furnished by the sommeliers at Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina. The baristas are true creative mixologists and are only too glad to cater for your alcoholic whims. There’s a green area where potted plants create a special boho ambience, while the surrounding park is dotted with wooden seats and tables where you can enjoy the fresh scent of pines and let your feet sink into the grass. Expect picnic hampers and vegetarian fare: the mastermind behind Santarosa is David Cappugi, accountant-turned-restaurateur, with the support of Libreria Brac (via dei Vagellai, 18, Florence).
Lungarno Santa Rosa, Florence
FB Santarosa Bistrot