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Santa Croce: Acqua al Due

Closing day: Monday

Reviewed by: Marie Smyth from Ireland, review #2120

When: 2006

Rudest waiter ever experienced in any restaurant.

This restaurant was recommended to us by one of the waiters in Trattoria Anita, also in the Santa Croce area, as they were not open on the Sunday night of our first visit to Florence.

We were seated in the back area of the Acqua al Due restaurant which was quite crowded and busy. The menu was in Italian with no English translation so we had to request assistance from the waiter to translate for us. He did this in an extremely unfriendly and abrupt manner. Having got over that hurdle we placed our orders.

Only one of us requested a first course. Shortly after this being served the other three main courses arrived at the table. Our friend finished his first course and as the waiter was at the next table he told him that he was now ready for his second course. The three main courses were long eaten and the waiter had still not served our friend's main course. Eventually our friend politely brought the matter to the waiter's attention again. After another 10 minutes the missing main course arrived, very obviously having been forgotten and then re-heated.

We subsequently ordered desserts and asked for tea. The waiter again rudely replied that they only served espresso coffee. There were three American visitors at the next table with whom we were chatting and who were also expressing shock at the rudeness of this waiter. The waiter brought both bills, and biros (pens), without having been asked and threw them on both tables. He returned with the credit card slips and also threw these on the tables.

While we were still finishing our desserts a lady arrived at the end of the Americans' table and rudely requested the seven of us leave the restaurant, without giving any reason. This was despite the fact that we were the last people to enter this part of the restaurant and customers who were there before us were still seated. We were so stunned by the bad service and the rudeness that we were only too glad to leave at that stage!!

Reviewed by: Kevin Clark from Italy, review #1782

When: 2005

A tale of two evenings. Our first visit was excellent, one of the best meals of the trip. The second was terrible - poor service and indifferent pasta.

Very touristy, but we really enjoyed our first meal here. Reservations were essential, even in December. We had French neighbors, but I don’t think anyone else near us was speaking anything other than English. The walls are decorated with pasta bowls that have been signed by previous customers, mostly in Italian. My comment was that judging from our visits, they’ve probably had to get every Italian who has ever eaten there to sign a plate to accumulate this many signed in Italian!

That said, we had a great meal. Service was excellent and friendly. We had, of course, the pasta assortment to start – five sorts of pasta, served one at a time (not all at once, as we had feared). Naturally we liked some better than others (the maccheroni al vodka was my favorite) but all were good and the serving sizes were small enough that we weren’t stuffed. We both followed that with filet steak in a balsamico sauce which was tender and perfectly cooked. The sauce was rich but not too strong. Amazingly we both had room for dessert, tiramisu and torta al cioccolato, both of which were very good. Even with a bottle of a nice Chianti Classico Riserva, the bill was a reasonable €110. We enjoyed it so much that we made a booking for a return visit the following week before leaving the restaurant.

What a difference a day (and a room) makes! On our return visit we were at a shared table in the back room which was completely packed and very noisy. I literally could not hear a word my wife or the waiter said. Since we had booked well in advance (we were the first booking taken for that night), I expected a slightly nicer table. The waiter was in a hurry and was not very pleasant. We had the pasta assortment again and were not as impressed this time with the selection or the quality. Neither were we happy with the plates being thrown down very abruptly with no explanation of what we were getting. When we finally did ask what one dish was, the waiter did answer but was quite unpleasant about it. Frustrated with the noise and the waiter’s attitude, we left after the pasta course.

On the basis of our first visit, I expect we might try Acqua al Due again on a nother trip, but then again, with so many other good places to eat in the area, we might not.

Reviewed by: Rosalie M from NY, review #1058

When: 2002

Outstanding food, perfect for tourists, and great atmosphere.

I spent several months in Florence during 2002, and found this restaurant to be amazing. I went 7 or 8 times. Each time the service was excellent. This restaurant caters to tourists, but has plenty of local folk who drop by. Make sure to make reservations! If you don't you could be waiting an hour or two, depending on the size of your party.

I suggest the Bistecca al aceto balsamico, €13 (filet mignon in a balsamic vinegar sauce) and also the bistecca al mirtillo, €11 (filet with a blueberry and red wine reduction sauce). If you are a pasta lover, get the pasta sampler. My favorite pasta is the fresh gnocchi (about €7). If you are with a big group, the dessert sampler is also great. The tiramisu is amazing.

The house red wine was a tasty Chianti, at a very reasonable price (about €12 a bottle).

For this quality of food, I found it to be extraordinarily inexpensive. But let me emphasize, the food was just amazing. The service can be a bit slow, but that is Italy. But they are always friendly!

Reviewed by: Liliana from MO, review #696

When: 2002

Excellent food, great ambience.

I went to this restaurant with a friend whose teacher from the Apicius cooking school owned the place, and it was fantastic. They have a sort of pasta sampler where you are given various small portions of pasta dishes (which ones change each day), and it's a great way if, like me, you can't decide. The spinach souffle is delicious too.

It's a really lovely and cozy place, especially on the basement level. The only difficulty we had was a group of very loud American tourists celebrating a birthday at the next table. The serving staff do a fantastic job, too, and manage to be both professional and lots of fun. I don't recall the prices exactly, but they didn't make me wince, so I don't think it's too much.

Interestingly, if any of you learn Italian with the textbook "Prego," they have a little bit about Acqua al 2 in it, which made me blink when I noticed it.

Reviewed by: Barb from KT, review #35

When: 2001

Acqua al 2 is wonderful.

Acqua al 2 is wonderful ... they have a web site, and also a branch just opened in San Diego! The steak with the basalmic vinegar glaze is outstanding! Get there EARLY!!!!!

Reservations recommended. Acqua al 2

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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