Two words: Irene Firenze.
Do you want to taste fresh fruit in your peach bellini?
Yes you do.
Do you want to drink it while having the most crispy and tender calamari made by Italians who know how to make a good sweet & sour sauce?
Yes you do.
Do you want to wash it all down with a delectable yogurt parfait with strawberry rhubarb sauce?
Yes you do. (I mean who knew you could even find rhubarb in Italy)
Do you want to do all this while you listen to musicians in Piazza Repubblica and people watch as the vintage carousel goes round & round?
Yes you totally do!
Whether you're looking for that special spot for a romantic date or relaxing lunch with the girls, Irene is your new best friend.
Outdoor eating in Florence
During the summer months, for tourists and residents alike it can be a big gamble finding the perfect place to eat outdoors with the right combination of quality and ambiance. But, if you want a sure win when in Florence, check out Irene Firenze, central location and no fuss scene.
This hotel restaurant is one of those sidewalk bistros seemingly typical next to all the surrounding outdoor restaurants littering the center of Florence, which can vary in value and quality, but in this case, it is far from typical.
A truly excellent Tuscan fare with a simple elegance.
Centrally located in Piazza Repubblica, right in the middle of every tourist route, it somehow is able to maintain a purity of its bistro class without feeling exploitative.
Irene Firenze Tuscan Bistrot
This past Sunday, we were invited to dine at Irene Firenze for a fun double date with Georgette (fabulous & sweet @girlinflorence). We’ve been meaning to go for some time now and always needing a night out without the kids, when Georgette suggested Irene’s, I was ecstatic.
It has been two years since the renovations took place at Hotel Savoy and with culinary genius chef Fulvio Pierangelini and head chef Giovanni Cosmai manning the kitchen, Irene Firenze should wear a crown.
I won't talk about the history of the Sir Rocco Forte family hotel or the beautiful Richard Ginori plateware or even the chic vintage décor... today, we are here to talk about the food.
Oh glorious food.
Perfect peach bellini
The bistro was already busy when we arrived at 8:30pm and the outdoor area was filled with impeccably dressed patrons holding a private party. We were immediately greeted and seated with menus.
The night began with a pretty pink bellini, tasting of fresh fruit and served in a beautifully decorated vintage glass.
Perfectly peachy and my crush began.
My inner fat girl tendencies got the best of me after scanning just the appetizer section of the menu.
I wanted everything listed.
I mean listen to these choices: octopus salad with radish & beetroot, fried calamari & vegetables, raw amberjack on Himalaya salt with lemon sorbet, red prawn tartare with ricotta & herbs, duo of chicken liver paté & foie gras…
Yes, I know. Shall I go on?
Obviously there was no doubt that I would order the fried calamari, since we have a long history together and if it is on the menu, I almost always need to have it.
All about the details
While we waited for our food, we received freshly baked bread and grissini. I loved the small Sicilian tomatoes (pomodori costoluti) that arrived with the bread, very flavorful and sweet.
You can make your own bruschetta adding the tomatoes to the bread or eat the babies no carb style, drizzled with the restaurant’s own production of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.
What a nice touch!
Fried calamari and vegetables €22
My crush turned into full-blown stalker material when I tasted the calamari fritti.
Oh, the crispy crunchy batter.
Oh, the sweetly tart sauce.
Oh, the perfectly cooked vegetables.
The fantastic batter was light & crunchy that didn’t fall apart when you ate it. The calamari was really tender and the vegetables were cooked perfectly. I hate when you order fried vegetables and they are undercooked or worse, soggy! Quite easily my favorite dish of the night.
Seabass with olive oil, mashed potatoes & sautéed porcini mushrooms €33
Already quite satisfied with my fried calamari, I wasn't sure if I would have room for my second dish, the seabass.
When my plate arrived, it had the perfect portion size of fish on top of a creamy layer of mashed potatoes and topped with an abundant portion of sautéed porcini mushrooms.
Finished it all off.
Yogurt parfait, coconut wafer, rhubarb & strawberry salad €12
I'm usually not into yogurt as my go-to dessert, but can I say this may have been the
second highlight of my night (tied with the calamari).
I was expecting perhaps a simple cup of soft yogurt topped with fruit.
Instead this parfait... was something else.
Each bite of this yogurt parfait was light & creamy, but with a slight crunch. This is not your typical soft yogurt, I am not sure I can even describe it.
Imagine a delicate frozen yogurt cake with a fantastic friable outer layer that at the same time melts in your mouth. Now, hold that image and throw some coconut wafer flakes in the mix. YUP.
I couldn't stop eating it, so addicting! Good thing husband hates yogurt, I didn't need to share!
Great company & great food
Thanks Irene Firenze and Georgette (ok and the hubbies) for a wonderful evening!
The night was entirely too relaxing and food was so divine that we did not realize that midnight had come and gone, it was way past time to return home to the kiddies.
Attentive service with a smile
Okay I'm cheating here, one last note, non-food related.
I have to give a shout-out to the staff.
They were gracious and attentive, always ready to pour more wine and water. They checked on us just enough, warm with enough distance, and quickly answered any of our questions without hesitation. Thumbs up!
Irene Firenze makes it look easy.
I can’t believe I haven’t stopped in before this past weekend. This Tuscan bistro is fresh and unique while remaining familiar.
This delightful bistro is a gem if you love good Italian food, and if by chance you don't (?!), well you should go to Irene Firenze for a coffee break and stay for a dessert and drink a bellini, which I will be doing in the very near future.
For more food pics and another look at Irene Firenze, read what Georgette calls the sexiest new bistro in Florence.
Breakfast from 7.00am to 10.30am
Lunch from 12.30pm to 3.30pm
Afternoon from 3.30pm to 7.30pm
Dinner from 7.30pm to 10.30pm
Don’t Miss Dish: Fried calamari and vegetables
End With: Yogurt parfait, coconut wafer, rhubarb & strawberry salad
Drink This: Fresh peach bellini
Occasion: Date night, lunch / dinner with family & friends
Bonus during the fall and winter season: Prix fixe lunch (fixed price menu) daily rotating specials with one, two or three courses priced at €15, €20, €25