Luxurious. Elegant. Sexy. Historic. That’s Florence’s Guelfi e Ghibellini Restaurant.
The Music Room
I arrived for dinner an hour early to enjoy a cocktail from the bar in the Music Room on the piano nobile in the historic Relais Santa Croce Firenze Hotel. I slowly sipped my negroni taking in its true grandness. The parquet floors. The vaulted ceilings. The enormous glittering chandelier and the removable panels in the wall that once hosted a full orchestra when the Marchese Baldinucci entertained in the 1700’s. I pinched myself. It’s 2015 and now, I’m here. Really? Fancy that. You can’t help but to feel special in a such a beautiful and truly historic palazzo that invites you to experience and enjoy it as you would your own home.
Guelfi e Ghibellini Restaurant
Once seated in the restaurant, we were swept away with the elegance of fine dining. Service was relaxed but excellent as we were guided through the Mediterranean menu and its excellent wine list.
As beautiful as the Guelfi e Ghibellini is I wasn’t here to just to admire the art. I was there to indulge in some serious Florentine cuisine with their signature Mediterranean twist. And so our three hour dinner began.
Honestly, I’m not sure how the Italians do it. Antipasto. Primo. Secondo. Then desert, fruit and coffee. Mamma mia! For me it’s always a bit too much but I put on my game face and tried my best. Everything on the menu was truly tempting such as: Chianina beef tartar with artichokes and pecorino cheese slivers and crisp vegetable strudel with ewe’s ricotta and Mediterranean gazpacho. There were even some classic Roman favorites such as: Spaghetti with ‘Cacio’ cheese and black pepper and Amatriciana spaghetti with tomato sauce, bacon and hot pepper.
Il Primo: Paccheri from Gragnano with seafood, tomatoes and lemon zest
For the primo, I opted for my favorite type of pasta: paccheri, which are very large tubes that collect the sauce expertly. Fantastic! The slightly nutty flavor of the Gragnano flour with the seafood was a lovely combination. It was a shame but I had to leave some in my bowl to make room for the secondo.
When in Florence it’s obligatory – at least for me – to try the Grilled Florentine T-bone steak, which was cooked to perfection and very juicy. The flecks of salt on top brought out even more flavor and blended perfectly with my bold Chianti.
Il Secondo: Turbot fish in a pistacho crust with potatoes from Cetica and sweet peppers
If steak isn’t your taste, try the fish. Although Italians aren’t famous for their seafood, truly they are masters in its preparation. After all, Italy is surrounded by the sea.
Il Dolce: Trio of crème brulée Pistachio, Passion fruit, Strawberry
Then after una pausa (little break) it was time for desert. I’m a fan of all things citrus and I love that flavors that it gives to deserts. Not too sweet, like the Cantucci parfait with orange, ginger and vin santo sauce. And for cherry lovers the variation of cherries: cheese cake, broiled custard and sorbet is a must try. Fruity and refreshing, it was the perfect end to the truly memorable three hour meal.
For its elegance, fine dining, and historic setting dinner at Guelfi e Ghibellini Restaurant is a Tuscan experience to hold and remember. I know I will.
*Images courtesy of Relais Santa Croce Florence
*I was a guest of Relais Santa Croce Florence and Guelfi e Ghibellini Restaurant