My first experience of an Italian restaurant brought me to a tiny cozy place called La Giostra Ristorante nearby the central Duomo and hidden in a small alleyway on Borgo Pinti Street. The cabin like space was lit up with a cascading assortment of flickering ceiling lights, aisles of rustic wine bottles, melting wax candles on every table, laughter, and a warm welcoming by the pirate like passionate owners. I came here my first day and last day, so I’ll be posting on both these occasions at this wonderful restaurant which I’d highly recommend for a tasty enjoyable meal. If you dig into their site, you’ll find a set of pictures taken by celebrities who have been there, which are also plastered on the restaurants interior.
More pics and yummy food after the jump.
Their biz card!
The restaurant resides in a somewhat hidden alleyway near the touristy Duomo but far enough from the flocking crowds. Even though the place had Italian only menus, many tourists were here though not apparent. I guess it’s been highlighted on many lists.
The interior space is extremely warming, wooden planks, white walls lit up by real candles, hanging pictures everywhere, flickering christmas lights cascading down every ceiling, and a charming crew of owners. The space was tight when filled which added to the cozy environment.
Their chef was this passionate character or prince according to their webpage that brought an essence to the environment and food. He’d tell stories of the food, place, and make you feel like a kid listening to an ancient story craving to eat whatever he spoke of. He served wine like no other, pouring a small portion into one glass, whisking it around, then pouring the remainder of that glass in to the next allowing it to be coated with a thin layer before finally pouring it all into a beautiful decanter allowing the wine to breathe in preparation with our meal. One good memory at both occasions at the place was when he described the donkey meat followed along with a few chirps or honks of a donkey sound. a ho oink! ( I can’t type what he sound like)
Our first taste and experience consisted of two large plates filled with a variation of Italian bites ranging from eggplant, buffalo mozzarella, liver canapes, donkey meat, fresh tomatoes, marinated peppers, salami, bruschetta, anchovies, and many other delights. These plates vanished fast! Everything was delightful, savory, and just enough to set the tone of the place.
My next dish was an amazing risotto. Light, a bit creamy, and not too heavy by any means which I am use to in the states. I think it had shrimp or lobster mixed into it along with tomatoes and some fresh basil. From what I recall, I ordered this dish because it was the only word on the menu I could read…..others did this as well, but I was a bit more adventuresome the next time around.
Round 2: This was my last night in Florence and second time at La Giostra. We walked around aimlessly for a bit starving ourselves and curiosly stumbled upon La Giostra again. We had to wait for a bit, but we knew it was going to be delightful considering a few bad meal selections throughout the week in Florence. Even in a city known for food, there are bads one lurking in every corner.
The meal started off with the large appetizer I posted about above….it was then folowed up by two wonderful simple dishes….above is the amazzzing buffalo mozzarella balls again atop some freshly sliced tomatoes and leaves.
Next came a carpaccio dish with some kind of meat, tomatoes, cucumbers, and o so yummy cheese topped with lemon juice. This was very good!
This was not my dish but Steves who sat next to me. It was a pear filled ravioli. I was not sure what to expect but OOooo my gosh!!!! This pear filled ravioli rocked! It looks so simple outside, but was very powerful flavorwise on the inside. The pear was much like a puree with a bit more juice if not a bit of something else added for a small kick. Incredibly simple, surprising, and magical! I’d order this again for sure!
Next came a dish some people outside kept insisting us to order. “Get the goat!..it’s amazzzing”….hence I ordered the goat along with some vegetable and flower tempura pieces.
I wasnt sure what to expect from the presentation of the plate, but I picked up a piece of the delicate goat and took a bite. UNBELIEVABLE!!! Juicy, tasty, warm, delicious, tender, flavorful! OMG, this was awesome! I wanted more! It’s really hard to describe, but if you have tasted the difference between say chicken meat and rabbit or frog, its that big of a difference if not better. The meat literally melted in your mouth as you chewed and the juice was just AWESOME!
At last, dessert after eating wayyy too much….We capped off the evening with a simple Tiramisu and a strawberry cake of some sort below. both were very fluffy and light… we of course followed up with a round of expresso as we did pretty much for every meal.