San Paolino Restaurant: contemporary Tuscan cooking with a tropical jungle vibe

San Paolino Restaurant: contemporary Tuscan cooking with a tropical jungle vibe

Playful risottos and sustainable food in a spectacular setting.

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Tue 30 Jan 2024 12:51 PM

San Paolino Restaurant at 25hours Hotel rocks a tropical jungle vibe in via Palazzuolo. Helmed by talented young chef Lorenzo Vendali (Gucci Osteria, La Ménagère), the green trope continues in the philosophy of zero waste while delighting diners with a blast of culinary creativity.

The vast restaurant and hotel lobby at 25hours Hotel. Ph. Dario Garofalo

After checking into our Paradiso room on the third floor, complete with a toy mouse, winged light bulbs and a faux bird trapped in the table lamp (bizarre), we are already in fine fettle on sitting down for dinner beneath the colossal glass roof and between the potted plant fronds. Perched on oversized bar chairs, the open kitchen with a quintessential brick vault directs the gaze to the centre of operations, where the chefs perform a merry dance and myriad sublimations. 

Cuttlefish and beetroot risotto. Ph. Marco Badiani

In addition to an a la carte menu, evening dining entices with three four-course tasting menus divided simply into meat, fish and vegetarian options. While my other half opts for the fish, I decide to balance my recent meat-centric experience at Korean restaurant Hallasan with the veggie variation. A fun and funky wine list presents a smorgasbord of Tuscan gems. From a San Miniato sparkler to many a natural Sangiovese and a handful of local whites from all over the region, Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara’s sumptuous ‘Selvabianca’, a Vernaccia of gravitas and grace is a match made in heaven to complement both our dinners. 

Chef Lorenzo Vendali. Ph. Marco Badiani
Pear dessert

First up is a red ramekin resembling a crème brulee that’s actually a pumpkin soup topped with a Parmesan crisp and bottomed with an onion confit, lending a curious sweetness to the starter. Perhaps as a tribute to the paradise-themed room that awaits after dinner, an all-white antipasti of seared calamari and bagna cauda is presented to my companion. The rice and pasta courses are stellar indeed: self-saucing house-made tagliatelle confected from ground chestnuts swirled above a smoked provola condiment and twirled with cavolo nero pesto. It’s a recipe we published in The Florentine last year, and for a host of good reasons. Meanwhile, the hotel’s other extreme theme, hell, is evidenced in the captivating risotto. A dusting of deathly black cuttlefish ink powder reveals a bloody beetroot rice dish below: the flavours are exceptional. Is there anything more wholesome and well-rooted as celeriac? Not in my mind, especially steamed, charcoaled and studded with hazelnuts before being served with a soy milk reduction. The nearby fireplace beckons with winter warmth, despite being emblazoned with gigantic toy mosquitoes, as the desserts are placed on the terrazzo tabletop: a perfect red wine-mulled pear and a salted crumb tiramisu take us full circle to the sweet-savoury playfulness of the soup starter. 

The night is still young, we’re not yet old and a nightcap at the on-point Companion Dolceamaro bar entices, but paradise is calling. Off we aspire into the third sphere for a very specific sleeping experience. Toy angel wings, anyone?


San Paolino Restaurant at 25hours Hotel

Via Palazzuolo 9A

+39 055 2966955 / restaurant.sanpaolino@25hours-hotels.com

Open daily.

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