I just came back from a nine-day vacation in Italy full of delicious meals. But of all the pasta, pizza, and prosciutto I scarfed down, one meal stands out the most.
A friend recommended I go to a restaurant in Florence called Il Latini. It’s a short walk from Ponte Vecchio and the hotel where I was staying. Buried on a little side street, it’d normally be easy to miss the restaurant.
But as we approached the spot at 7 PM, a half hour before the restaurant opened, there was a crowd gathered outside.
That crowd quickly grew to 50 people. The restaurant looked small and I was confident I’d never get a chance to eat at the curious place.
But at 7:30 the doors opened and a jolly man stepped outside.
“Don’t worry, and please don’t push!” he said. “There is room for all of you inside to eat, even if you don’t have a reservation.”
We entered the restaurant and were ushered to a side room full of long cloth-covered tables. Another couple was seated at our table, where a massive bottle of red wine and homemade olive oil was waiting.
What followed was the best Italian meal I’d have that week, and one you definitely shouldn’t miss if you’re headed to Florence.
The best part: the endless food and wine only costs 50 Euros per person.
It's a four generation, family-style restaurant that's been in business for over a century. The doors open at 7:30 PM and a big crowed was gathered outside when we showed up at 7:00.
At 7:30, one of the hosts came outside and assured everyone that, reservation or not, there was plenty of room inside for all of us to come feast. So we filed in. We sat with two other couples, a Polish couple visiting from England and an American couple who was celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.
On the table sat the largest bottle of house red wine you'll ever see, a bread basket and home-made olive oil. For 50 euros a person, you can drink all of the glasses you want, plus have a multi-course, mega family-style meal. Naturally, we payed the 50 euros.
The first plates of food out were meats, melons, and a caprese salad. Each couple had their own set of plates to split.
Next were three different pastas, including cheese-stuffed ravioli, a meat sauce fusilli, and gnocchi with rabbit.
Il Latini gives you three meat choices for the main course, but it's best known for its steak. The steak was the size of my face. You can see its was longer than the knife we used to cut it, and it was at least two inches thick.
In case that isn't enough for you, there are two sides served with the steak: the best potatoes you've ever tasted and some spinach. The potatoes tasted like mashed potatoes wrapped in a crispy, golden-fried crust.
The steak may have been big, but I can eat. And I ate almost all of it. By the way, you better like rare meat if you eat at Il Latini. The steak was still mooing and they never asked how we wanted it cooked.
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