Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cantinetta Antinori

Located in a 15th century palazzo just off of the fashionable via dei Tornabuoni (Florence’s mini “Fifth Avenue”), Cantinetta Antinori is the ideal place to slake the appetite you’ve built up after a morning of power shopping. No one mixes elegance and rusticity like the Florentines, and Cantinetta Antinori perfectly exemplifies both with its white stucco vaulted ceiling, Renaissance-inspired tables and chairs and antique prints and majolica. Both the à la carte and daily specials offer seasonal, classic Tuscan fare such as a delicious antipasto of grilled porcini mushrooms and artichokes topped with a veil of fruity, jade-green Laudemeo extra-virgin olive oil (from the Antinori Chianti Classico estate), minestra di farro (a hearty soup of fresh borlotto beans, sausage and spelt) and trippa alla fiorentina (tripe braised in a sweet tomato sauce), all presented by camerieri in impeccable white jackets, who are professional, but maintain a relaxed air. There are both ground floor and mezzanine dinning rooms, or you can sit at the beautiful antique walnut bar and enjoy a glass of wine, served by the enoteca’s movie-star-handsome sommelier.

I arrived for lunch at 1:00, and by the time I began to delve into my chosen antipasto flan di cavolo nero con salsa di cannellini e tartufi (a timbale of pureed Tuscan black cabbage and fresh ricotta cheese, cloaked with steamed black cabbage leaves, and topped with a fresh cannellini bean and white truffle sauce), both dining rooms and the bar were packed with an interesting mix of locals: a stylish “thirty something” group dressed in black, middle-aged women adorned with large pieces of expensive jewelry (replete with fur coats draped over their shoulders!) and well dressed business men, taking full advantage of their expense accounts. The Antinori have been vintners since the 14th century, and today they produce some of Italy’s finest wines. Understandably, only selections from various private estates are offered on the wine list, so you can sample either bottles or glasses of some of their most notable vintages. I tasted glasses of both the Villa Antinori Chianti Classico ‘96, which was young, fresh and redolent of plums, and an inky-colored, spicy Tignanello’96 that was rounder and more refined, with a velvity texture and ripe current flavor that is tinged with a hint of vanilla (indicating its brief repose in oak barrels). There is a small but excellent selection of Tuscan and local cheeses, and desserts are simple and homey. The castagnaccio (Tuscan chestnut flour, pine nuts and raisin cake with fresh rosemary) is served warm, and is a satisfying end to this upscale country cooking.

Cantinetta Antinori

Piazza Antinori, 3 Florence (They now have a winebars in Zurich, Moscow and Vienna)
À la Carte menu with daily specials
Open 12:30-2:30-7:00-10:30
Tel. 055 292234 – 055 2359827
Closed Saturday and Sunday

All major credit cards accepted Reservations not necessary, but suggested

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