Via del Corso number 6 is essentially paradise on earth. Gourmet restaurant Chic Nonna di Vito Mollica has opened in the historic palazzo that was once the childhood home of Beatrice Portinari, Dante Alighieri’s muse.
Vito Mollica (former executive chef of Four Seasons Florence and Milan) returns to Florence after heading up the opening of Mine & Yours Group’s sister Chic Nonna gourmet restaurant in Dubai. Florence’s Chic Nonna di Vito Mollica is the chef’s coming of age, a stylish cabinet of curiosities layered with art, history and the finest culinary delights.
Discretion rules in the Cosimo I de’ Medici courtyard, a place for all-day casual dining served at Salotto Portinari Bar & Bistrot, where a Chic Negroni (18 euro) whets the appetite: rooibos gin, Campari and chocolate-infused red vermouth served with an oversized ice cube imprinted with the palazzo’s logo. On the way into dinner at Chic Nonna, we peep into the Sala Beatrice private dining room. Blissfully appointed with a gold shot silk and mirrored wall, a celestial brass and Murano glass chandelier, and a vaulted ceiling, the rounded-edged table seats up to 18. The adjacent bar is a moodier, more happening locale: think backlit bottles and a black lacquered counter. Navigating the water wall, which feels slightly off-message for a restaurant entranceway, and stepping momentarily outdoors due to the centuries-old layout, the dining room is glorious at first sight and only improves with gazing. We sit in silence for a few minutes, surveying our surroundings: the stained-glass ceiling bears symbols of prosperity (the palazzo formerly housed Banca Toscana); the intricate mosaic floor is protected with a glass top; Alessandro Allori’s sixteenth-century frescoes elicit wows; and niches pop with contemporary artworks. Food is forgotten as the history feeds us, although that situation is swiftly changed when the maître presents the jewel-toned, gold-embossed menu, which matches the emerald seats, reminiscent of The Ivy’s Art Deco vibe in London.
The Corte degli Imperatori menu is our choice, a five-course tour de force of Vito Mollica’s culinary prowess. The amuse bouche threesome—tuna, watermelon and parmesan are the primary flavours—as head sommelier Clizia Zuin gets playful with the wine pairings. A sparkler fills our glasses: apple-y, with a measured body and a petrol-like finish, Riesling or Timorasso is my bet as Zuin reveals that it’s actually alcohol-free! Next come a small-grower Blanc de Noirs Champagne for me and a San Miniato spumante for Marco to match with the savoury and herbaceous scallops dressed with lettuce oil and crème fraiche. “I love the bread guy,” proclaims my comrade-in-forks: together we watch the innate poise of the white-jacketed waiter as he moves from table to table.
Vito Mollica is The Risotto Guy, no holds barred. Several times down the years, I’ve watched him mantecare before amazed eyes, that final flourish of stirring butter and/or other fats into researched rice kernels. His risotto caprese with langoustine at Chic Nonna is no different, with a depth and delicacy that display expertise. Laura Peri’s chicken meat fills the house tortelli, while a rich porcini-enhanced jus elicits richness. A quail and foie gras duo is the main course, entwined with jocund green apple jellies: it’s a masterclass in plating and flavour pairing, as too is the resident wine wizard’s choice to serve us a scintillating orange Vitovska from Friuli and a 12-year-old Chianti Classico Riserva respectfully.
Pastry chef Tim Ricci’s sweetness-and-light dessert with a seductive ruffle of peach, verbena and lime would usually mark the end of a gourmet menu, but Chic Nonna has more surprises up its refined sleeves. Do not leave before ordering a speciality coffee. Prepared at the table, watch the show (and learn something new) while the maître weighs, boils and extracts the beverage using a Cona. Plus, having made an acquaintance in the stellar sommelier, we were invited to glimpse inside the decadent Dante Alighieri suite. Available for overnight stays on the piano nobile, the temptation to stay in paradise after indulging in Vito Mollica’s Chic Nonna is strong indeed.
About Chic Nonna
Palazzo Portinari Salviati
Via del Corso 6
Wednesday to Sunday, from 7pm. Tasting menus start from 125 euro; wine flights from 75 euro.
Reservations +39 055 5353555 / firstname.lastname@example.org
This review was written based on a dining experience kindly offered to The Florentine.