Chef's Tour: Fulvio Pierangelini's Florence
On the heels of his new restaurant, Irene, opening in the Hotel Savoy, the chef shows T+L his Florence.
“The Florentine food scene is constantly changing—tourists want traditional cuisine and Florentines, who have never forgotten the glories of Renaissance, are quite conservative,” says chef Fulvio Pierangelini, the Italian chef who became a culinary legend at the now-shuttered two-Michelin-starred Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo. “But while the older Florentines each have their favorite trattoria and rarely experiment with new restaurants, their children want something new, and from this, a small revolution has come about with fish restaurants popping up around the city, where meat had always been the central ingredient.”
Pierangelini is now the executive chef for Rocco Forte Hotels and just opened the new bistro Irene at Florence’s Hotel Savoy, recreating the famous Tuscan classics that made him one of Italy’s most revered chefs inside a redesigned contemporary space on the edge of Piazza della Repubblica.
“I have fun reawakening this environment with simple delicious food full of nostalgia,” he says. “The best offerings in the city are from the restaurants that combine traditional Tuscan cuisine and modern décor, while bringing the best local products to the menu.”
When he's not dining at his own restaurant—"The only restaurant I feel like suggesting is Irene at any moment of the day!"—you'll find Pierangelini at one of these six spots around town.
“The San Lorenzo Market is famous for its Liberty architecture, and the beautiful stalls of fruit, vegetables, fish, and cheese and offal, including the classic Florentine lamprey (tripe). On the first floor of this historical location, you can take a journey through Italian gastronomy. Marvelous bread, wines, truffles, and food for every desire fill the market, and large benches and tables provide the perfect spot for an aperitif or an informal lunch or dinner.”
“As one of the oldest restaurants in Florence, Sostanza has a traditional atmosphere, one that has been maintained for many years. A wood stove and coal are still used to cook, and as you sit at the communal tables, you can enjoy dishes like artichoke pie, chicken breast with butter, and meringue with berries.”
“Eataly is the new way to shop in Italy. High quality products fill this market-like shop, from pasta to vegetables to truffles, all of which are displayed with their source information. Restaurants lie adjacent to the food shelves, where shoppers can enjoy a meal while they browse.”
“Within the beautiful Barthel interior design shop, Desinare has a cooking school and grand table where chefs prepare the dishes.”
“On a small street a few steps from the Uffizi museum, Ino is a gourmand stop to for sandwiches stuffed with a selection of Tuscan and Italian products.”
“Carapina is the new gelateria of Florence with surprising and unusual flavors.”
Nate Storey is an assistant editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Instagram at @storeys and Twitter at @storeysTL.
Read T+L’s Florence Restaurant Guide for more restaurant ideas.