Ristorante La Giostra

img_4537Dining With Royalty: An Interview With La Giostra’s Ubaldo Tonarelli
By Jennifer Canace and Rachael Grossman
A “must-see” restaurant in the heart of Florence, La Giostra is a delectable dining option. The room is adorned with thousands of strands of dangling Christmas lights, greetings with a sparkling bianco, and old photos of Chef Tonarelli. The building, which has survived for almost 400 years, has a unique feel, as you glance around the dimly lit, romantic room. Twenty years ago, the Hapsburg Lorena Princes decided to open their very own restaurant in Florence: La Giostra, which seemed unlikely to most. Who would have imagined royalty handling dirty dishes and serving customers? We had the opportunity to sit down with Tonarelli at his beautifully decorated restaurant and get down to the nitty-gritty of how La Giostra came to be.
We left the restaurant feeling like royalty. Feeling like we had escaped to a completely different town, it was time to return to reality. Chef Tonarelli was ecstatic to see our interest in not only his remarkable food, but his unique family history. It is not everyday that you are able to sit down and speak with a prince, but today was that day. While this was our first visit to La Giostra, this most certainly will not be our last.

La Giostra
Borgo Pinti 12/r
Tel. 055 241341
Hours: Monday-Friday 12:30-2:30pm; 7:00pm-1:00am Saturdays-Sunday 7:00pm-1:00am
Continue reading to hear about our delightful conversation.

Jennifer Canace & Rachael Grossman: We see all of these photographs covering the walls. Could you name some of the most renowned people that have visited?
Ubaldo Tonarelli: People come to visit us from all over the world. We’ve had many celebrities visit, who you might know…Bruce Springsteen, John Travolta, Anthony Kiedis, Tara Reid.
JC & RG: Jennifer Canace and Rachael GrossmanWhere did the passion to start your own restaurant originate?
UT: It all started in Wien, when our grandmother began taking us to the kitchens of the castle and only once had servitude been dismissed so we could look around. We began asking the chefs of the restaurants on the estate for their recipes, which worried them a bit. But, they told us how to prepare the meals. This is how we came to be.
JC & RG: What are some of the most popular dishes?
UT: The whole menu! Tourists come in and go straight for our burrata, pear ravioli, and balsamic steak.
JC & RG: What is the atmosphere of the restaurant?
UT: The restaurant rooms are all built with sixteenth century arches in red brick, so I would say it is, uh, romantic. There are just sixteen tables, where couples, beautiful women, famous guests, and theatre groups now sit. I would like to believe each of them come here for the love of passionate, true Italian cuisine. We wanted a pleasurable experience for our visitors, somewhere they could fall in love over a true Tuscan meal.