A new taste of Florence

JT Caffe’ opens in piazza Pitti

Helen Farrell
May 8, 2014

After you’ve explored the myriad museums of the Pitti Palace, walked the gravel paths of the Boboli Gardens and delighted at seeing artisans at work in Florence’s authentic-as-it-gets Oltrarno neighbourhood, you’ll no doubt be in need of somewhere to sit down and rest your weary legs. JT Caffè is the haven you’re looking for, offering a balm to the senses in one of the city’s busiest piazzas.

 

A welcome addition to piazza Pitti, JT Caffè is not your average city-centre bar. As you step in off the piazza, a warm and welcoming atmosphere meets you. Looking around, you notice the red-brick vaulted ceilings that can only date back centuries, the contemporary black and chrome finishes, and the comfortable dove grey sofas. Then, on the tables, you spot the finest hand-made leather touches—the placemats and menus. The ambience is as much as the design as it is about the food and drink, and the attention to detail is palpable. So it comes as no surprise to learn that one of the people behind the Oltrarno’s newest café is Jennifer Tattanelli, the renowned leather stylist born in Florence to an American mother and Florentine father.

‘This space here where we’ve opened the bar was once my clothing shop, JT Casini, and is my father’s property,’

Tattanelli explained to me over a sublime (believe me, I’m picky about my coffee) 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta espresso. ‘My husband, my brother and I have always loved being in the welcome business. I have my store next door, so I’ve always wanted people to come to Florence and have a good experience. It’s not so much about the selling and the custom-made, but about advising people about where to eat and what to see. In short, the experience of local Florence.’

Local is one of the feelings that prevail as you take in the diners. In a spot facing onto the elegance of Palazzo Pitti, you might not expect to hear so many Florentine voices, and yet the locals are frequenting JT Caffè as much as anyone else. Which means, in essence, that the quality must be high. ‘We do Tosco-Emiliano cuisine; we do fresh dishes of the day, plus things that are always on the menu. We serve pappa al pomodoro and a Parmigiano Reggiano tasting experience… I get the carpaccio we serve from a butchers’ near Rignano sull’Arno, a business that has been passed down through the generations.’ There’s even a special touch when it comes to the gelato, as it’s served with a drizzle of 18- or 29-year-old balsamic vinegar on top. Plus it’s unique, given that the producer only makes 20 litres a year.

 

But Florence is, after all, a cosmopolitan city and Jennifer’s family is Italian-American, so international touches are part of the JT Caffè experience. ‘I’m so proud of the bagels that come everyday from Naples, which we serve with cream cheese and salmon or with tomato and mozzarella,’ Tattanelli enthuses. The bagels are brought up from Naples because the water there is similar to the water in New York. ‘I looked everywhere in Florence, but the water’s wrong, so they come out all spongy.’ Then, there’s the American breakfast, which JT Caffè has included on the menu for tourists and expatriates alike, aware that, sometimes, we all crave a little taste of home. ‘I know I miss things like good breakfast in the morning with eggs and bacon.’

 

Florentines and tourists, expatriates and students, JT Caffè offers something for everyone. From Italian and international beers and wines to Arizona iced tea and old-style, lightly fruity cedrate, beverages you can’t ordinarily find anymore. But the new addition to the Oltrarno café scene is not just about food and drink, it’s about creating a comfortable space where people can socialize and develop new ideas at the same time. A café where students can potentially display their artwork, where community groups can organise evenings to brainstorm ideas: JT Caffè aims to be a creative space.

‘My vision is to create a space in which the young fashionista, families with kids and people with dogs all feel comfortable. We just want people to feel good.’

 

JT CAFFÈ

Piazza Pitti 32–33/R, Florence

Open 7.30am to 7.30pm

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