Once, the only thing a restaurant needed to be memorable was good food. Times, it seems, have changed. The latest addition to Fabio Picchi's mini-food empire (Cibrèo and Caffè Cibrèo) in Florence is Teatro del Sale (111R Via dei Macci; 39-055/200-1492; www.teatrodelsale.com; dinner for two $50), a members-only restaurant/theater/social club (annual fee: $6). A sign on the wall displays cheeky, manifesto-style commands: "The sole ethical rule of the circle is the ability to listen." There are no menus or waitstaff—diners help themselves from heaping platters at communal tables. Visitors sit among workers from a nearby market and society types who come for Picchi's bonito with chopped herbs and polenta with cinnamon. As an added bonus, at 9 p.m. a curtain falls over the kitchen as another rises on the stage for a musical or theatrical performance. We applaud this new twist on dinner theater.
Teatro del Sale
Snowy-bearded chef Fabio Picchi announces dishes through his open kitchen window at Teatro del Sale, a restaurant and theater club. At Picchi’s command, patrons queue up for platters of tender boiled meats, or risotto al dente with salty mussels. The performances, usually a play or musical act, start at 9:30 p.m. To join, simply call ahead; then pay your $6 annual fee at the door.