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Santa Croce: Ristorante Leo

Via Torta, 7r , Phone: 055.210829

Reviewed by: stella from NY, review #1754

When: 2005

A historic restaurant with a warm staff and delicious, traditional Florentine fare. Highly recommended.

Directions: Via Torta is just off of the Piazza Santa Croce, at the end opposite the Basilica

I first read about Ristorante Leo in Santa Croce in the book "The City of Florence," by the late R.W.B. Lewis; the author had lived in the same building I rented for our Florence vacation and he mentioned it as one of his favorites in the Santa Croce neighborhood.

On the night my mother and I dined here, we had just arrived in Florence and were tired, hungry and wandering the neighborhood, looking for a place to eat. As soon as I saw the sign, the passage from the book leapt to my mind. We walked in and were warmly greeted. The restaurant is built upon an ancient Roman ampitheatre, with interesting architectural features to admire while you dine. The decor is cozy and pretty. The waiters were unbelievably sweet.

We started by splitting a light salad of tissue-thin zucchini "carpaccio" with shards of Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh pepper and new Tuscan oil, served with two bruschette of diced fresh tomato. Next, my mother had tiny handmade tortellini in a rich chicken brodo; I had incredibly light gnocchi with fresh tomato, basil and small cubes of buffalo mozzarella. My mother had roasted veal breast with potatoes, which was tender and delicious, and I had an excellent grilled veal chop. It was juicy and cooked perfectly, annointed with more of that new oil. For dessert, we split the house "torta," which was lighter and softer than a cheesecake, topped with an intense compote of local berries.

The menu at Leo was large, and I wish we could have visited one more time to continue exploring it. A very sweet and inviting restaurant in a historic setting.

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

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