Welcome to CiboChat!

CiboChat is the Food and Culture blog of FUA Florence University of the Arts. This blog project reflects our aim to share the cultural and especially gastronomic experiences of our students, faculty, staff, and Florentine locals. Check out our Florentine Food Guide for how to dine like a local!

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Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò

Review by Madeline Fodor, Madeline Gendreau, Mckenna Kowalik, Cara McCarthy, Katlyn Martin
Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò was a hidden culinary gem of Florence. We didn’t have much of a particular expectation upon dining there, other than knowing there are really authentic restaurants on the other side of the Arno. Antica Mescita was very quaint and charming, the ambiance itself in the restaurant was very cozy and slightly antique, the wall was dotted with old wine bottles and paintings of Niccolo Machiavelli. It sat about 20 people on the first floor area inside, with more tables outside and down below that could seat an additional 25-30. The tables were sturdy marble tables and the interior was quite dark, but very cozy. The staff at the Osteria made sure we understood everything on the menu and checked to make sure we did not have any questions.We had heard that the Pappa al Pomodoro was highly recommended so some of us ordered it. It came out piping hot and although it was not very appealing since it’s clumps of soupy bread and tomato, its taste was something completely different. With elements of basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and the velvety tomatoes and spongy bread, this bread soup was gone within 2 minutes. It was light and packed full of flavors, but left room for the primo piatto. One of us got an arugula salad with pear, Brie, and pine nuts. The arugula was very fresh, and the cheese was very creamy and paired very well with the sweetness of the pears. The nuts were also a nice added crunch. Several of us ordered the gnocchi which came out of the kitchen very quick and was quite hot. The gnocchi was served in an herbed tomato ragu sauce that was thin but very savory. The gnocchi themselves were small and buttery, falling apart the moment we put them in our mouths. They were a potato gnocchi, and were quite filling, but we would all definitely go back for more. We also tried the Bistecca alla 
Fiorentina which was large cooked medium rare. This dish turned out to be quite an experience because our waiter came out and cut the meat right in front of us. He was laughing with us and let us take a photo of him. The dish itself was delicious, as it had a very nice char flavor on the spiced outside of the cut. The bite was salty and savory, and the meat cut quite easily. Two of us also ordered the bocconcini di pollo al limone or bocconcini lemon chicken. This dish, while very unappealing looking was delicious! It reminded me of a boiled chicken with a lemon gravy sauce. The chicken was very tender and easy to eat and the gravy on top made for a sort of comforting food taste like something one would find in their home during winter time. The lemon while seeming subtle was in fact not and just the right amount of flavor that it was not overwhelming.Very delicious meal that I would definitely recommend.
Overall, we really enjoyed dining at Antica Mescita with its charm and quaintness, great quality and variety of dishes, and not to mention very accommodating and friendly staff, we would certainly go back there and recommend it to others.

Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò
Via di S. Niccolò, 60 r
Tel.: 055 234 2836
Hours: Daily, 12:00pm-12:30am

La Cova Tapas Bar

Review by Julia Marshall, Stephanie Hebert, Michaela Vivian, Isabella Falco, Daley Burke, Evan Sabin
La Cova is a Spanish tapas bar located across the river; it is an easy to reach location. The clientele of the restaurant is mixed between students, adults, families, teenagers, etc. It has a very welcoming environment. As soon as we walked in we heard Spanish music playing in the background which added to the authentic vibe of the establishment.
Though the waiter knew little English, he was very helpful and answered our questions about the food to the best of his ability; one of our group members is gluten free, and he was able to suggest tapas that she could eat. Additionally, when we asked him for a typical Spanish drink, he suggested the Sangria, which was fruity and refreshing. He explained the process of ordering tapas, and our meals came out staggered, which allowed us to share a lot of food. The menu is a tapas menu filled with a variety of choices between meats, vegetables, seafood, bread and fried food. The drink menu includes wine, beer and cocktails. Overall, the meals were hot and fresh. The sauces that came with tapas, such as the calamari and patatas bravas, were flavorful but not overpowering. We only spent about 20 euros per person, so it was a very reasonable dining experience for the variety and amount of food we ate.
Though our experience at La Cova was surprisingly good, we do not suggest going in a large group, as the restaurant does not have enough space to hold large parties; most tables are made for 4-6 people even though the restaurant itself seats 80-90 people. Another suggestion is to order a bunch of different tapas and split them instead of ordering your own just for yourself.  We would recommend this place to anyone of any age and background, because it is such a casual and cool tapas restaurant.

La Cova Tapas Bar
Sdrucciolo de’Pitti, 19r
Tel.: 055 2670076
Hours: Lunch 12:00pm-2:30pm; Dinner 6:30pm-11:30pm. Open daily

Finisterrae

Review by Kelley Brennan, Linnea Gustafsson, Leigh Heinemann, Caitlin Falvey, Alexis Gigliello, Nicolas Tiezzi
Finisterrae is an Italian/Mediterranean restaurant that offers a lunch and dinner menu, as well as the option to order pastries and paninis from their front case. Reservations are recommended and only taken until 2pm of the requested day. Reservations can be made directly on their website for either their pastry store or their restaurant. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed in English by the host and brought to a spacious table. Our waiter did not speak much English but did his best to accommodate us. Our table was located in one of the back dining rooms which was decorated with beautiful Mediterranean colors and had large windows to let in light. The atmosphere was cozy and relaxed. We were impressed with the location, decor and service. The menu was easy to follow and was available in English. It was broken up by appetizers, salads, first courses and soups, second courses, sides, pizzas, and desserts. They offer vegan and vegetarian options in addition to their classic Italian dishes. Upon ordering our meals, we anticipated a delicious experience.
One of the meals that we ordered was the Winter Lentil Soup with Bread. It was similar to the traditional Tuscan bread soup pappa al pomodoro with potatoes instead of tomatoes. It was delicious and was served hot and a perfect fluffy, but also liquid texture. It was a wonderful “comfort food”. The serving size was perfect, as it would fill somebody up during the time period of a dinner without making somebody too full. We would highly recommend this to anybody, especially on a chilly day! We also ordered fresh pasta with burrata cheese and artichokes. The pasta discs were cooked perfectly and blended together with the creamy cheese chunks and bitter flavor of the artichokes. Another dish we ordered was the “Lasagne Tradizionali al Ragù di Manzo.” The lasagna was perfectly creamy and the portion was quite big. It’s a great meal for either a lunch or a dinner! It was seasoned tastefully and just the right amount and didn’t need anything extra once it arrived at the table. Our meals were all served at the same time and arrived piping hot. Although we got different dishes, each of them was flavorful and cooked to perfection.

Finisterrae
Piazza di Santa Croce, 12
Tel.: 055 263 8675
Hours: Daily 7:30am-11:00pm

Bar Pasticceria Caldana

Review by Ross Powers, Amanda Guido, Annie Farley, Meghan Steines and Danielle Jones
Caldana was the largest pasticceria we have visited in Florence, and when we walked in, we immediately saw so many beautiful and tasty looking pastries, sandwiches, and so much more, along with an ample amount of seating. Most of customers were local Italians, not tourists. It was also very exciting to see that there was both inside and outdoor seating, which would be perfect on a sunny day. In general, Caldana was well lit, simple, and clean, with a large variety of pastries to choose from. After carefully viewing the selection, we ordered a selection of pastries.  The sfoglia alla mela was delicious! It was an apple filled pastry that was light and buttery, with the apples chopped into little pieces in a sweet sugary glaze. The pistachio and white chocolate tart was very sweet and smooth on the mouth and the tart crust was buttery and light, golden brown with a perfect finish. There were also crushed nuts on top. Overall excellent and extremely tasty. The hazelnut puff pastry had a light tan color with a cream colored topping. It was very light and fluffy that was overall good. The white chocolate tart that was much larger than the pistachio tart, roughly 10 times bigger, filled with white chocolate filling with dark chocolate shavings on top and extremely enjoyable. The nutella croissant, was different than other pastry shops make, with a sweet shell and a soft, flaky, inside that was extremely enjoyable. We also ordered a cappuccino, which was served at the perfect temperature! It was very foamy and not too sweet. The cappuccino came in a little white cup with Caldana written on the inside, which was a nice touch, and a black and white drawing of the Florence skyline on the outside, which made it feel very personable. Caldana’s pricing was very similar to other pastry shops, two euros for a pastry and an espresso. Overall, we would highly recommend Bar Pasticceria Caldana to others because of its authentic Italian pastries. Although it is a walk from the city center, the place is very well organized, has a good atmosphere and excellent food.

Bar Pasticceria Caldana
Address: Piazza Pietro Leopoldo 4
Tel.: 055 474045
Hours: Daily from 6:00am to 11:00pm

TuttoToscana Gala Dinner

By Eva Björg Eyjólfsdóttir

Last Saturday, the TuttoToscana Gala Dinner was held. Members of the James Beard Foundation attended with other partners of Florence University of the Arts. At the event, we were lucky to welcome presidents and faculty members from schools that collaborate with FUA. The menu of the night represented an exploration of Italian cuisine from the 1960s, a contradictory decade of industrial boom and socio-political revolution. The era is a mashup of diverging thoughts in Italian society in which juxtapositions occurred between economic optimism in the big cities, traditionalism dominating in the South and in the countryside, flower power philosophy, political unrest, and the industrialization of Italian lifestyles including food production. The culinary and baking and pastry students took some of the most famous dishes from this era and gave them a new and modern look. With each course, the guests were offered wine pairings. The wines that were served came from differing Italian wineries. From Bruni Winery, the Vermentino and the Morellino di Scansano, from Lastra winery, Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG, From Campizzana winery, Barco Reale and Carmignano DOCG, and to end the dinner, guests were served Vin Santo from Fattoria del Teso winery. Following the completion of dinner, our guests were introduced to the front and back of the house staff members. We would like to give a special thank you to The James Beard Foundation for giving Apicius the opportunity to bring their students to New York and to attend the TuttoToscana program.

Follow our journey from Florence to NYC on Facebook.


Florentine Foodie

Osteria Antica Mescita San Niccolò

Review by Madeline Fodor, Madeline Gendreau, Mckenna Kowalik, Cara McCarthy, Katlyn Martin Osteria …

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TuttoToscana - James Beard Foundation

TuttoToscana Gala Dinner

By Eva Björg Eyjólfsdóttir Last Saturday, the TuttoToscana Gala Dinner was held. Members of the J…

More in TuttoToscana - James Beard Foundation