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Oltrarno/Santo Spirito: Trattoria La Casalinga

Via del Michelozzi, 9r , Phone: 055.218.624

Closing day: Sunday

Reviewed by: Kevin Clark from Italy, review #1780

When: 2005

A great local trattoria - nothing fancy, but excellent food and an extensive menu.

Directions: Just off Piazza Santo Spirito

My first visit here was an interesting case of a meal I didn’t really enjoy but a restaurant that I knew I would like if I made better choices.

I was wavering between La Casalinga and Borgo Antico Ristorante around the corner when an Italian gentleman (a visitor from Rome, he said) saw me looking at the menu and suggested that if I wanted to eat with the tourists I should go to Borgo Antico, but that if I wanted to eat where the Florentines ate, I should try La Casalinga. Hard to resist an advertisement like that, so I gave it a try!

This is not a fancy place, more like what I would call a “typical” trattoria. It is very popular with both tourists and Italians, many of whom seem to be regulars. There were a few other tourists, but the crowd seemed to be largely Italian as the gentleman outside had suggested. The menu was extensive and therein laid my problem, I think, as I made a couple of quick choices that I wasn’t terribly happy with.

I started with an insalata di carciofi which I expected to be marinated or steamed. What I got was a large serving of thinly sliced raw artichokes which were not at all to my taste. They were tough and the flavor didn’t really come out. The tagliatelle con sugo di coniglio was better, but I thought the sauce was too rich and the texture wasn’t quite right. Still, I really liked the place and the service was friendly and quick. The torta della nonna (one of my favorite desserts) was homemade and the best of the trip. Though I hadn’t really enjoyed most of what I'd ordered, I had enjoyed the meal (if that makes sense) and decided to come back for another try. With drinks, dinner was about €24.

A return visit, for dinner with my wife this time was much better. The place was hopping and we had to wait around 15-20 minutes for a table; not bad for a Saturday night without a booking. We both started with pasta - I had the pappardelle con sugo di cinghiale and my wife had ravioli and both dishes were excellent. The wild boar sauce was especially good and was not as overwhelmingly rich as games sauces often are. For mains I had scallopine al limone and she had cinghiale with polenta and porcini. Both were excellent, especially the cinghiale. I had to have the torta della nonna again, but we had to share one as we were both too full to have our own! This time, dinner for two cost under €50 with drinks.

I returned a third time for a solo lunch. There was a long line, so I ended up sharing a table with two other solo diners, neither of whom spoke English or wanted to try to converse which made the meal a little awkward. It was still a very nice lunch. The spaghetti all'Amatriciana, one of my favorite pasta dishes, was very good and a big portion. The chicken breast with butter and sage was nicely done too, with plenty of sage. I was way too full for dessert on this visit! Lunch cost just €20 with a mezzo of house wine, water, and coffee.

Reviewed by: Marian from NJ, review #1025

When: 2004

This is a terrific little trattoria with delicious fresh food and pleasant service.

Directions: Right off Piazza Santo Spirito

This is yet another restaurant that I wish I had eaten in more than once. I had lunch there on my own one weekday. The meal consisted of excellent ravioli con ricotta e salvia (sage), insalata con tonno, a 1/4 carafe of red wine and 1/2 water. Total was €15,30. The other diners were a mixture of locals (workmen and business people) and other tourists. The service was extremely pleasant, not at all rushed.

Reviewed by: Tom from CA, review #48

When: 2001

If you want a good, quick, and cheap dinner this is the place for you - as long as you get there early. Recommended ... with caveats - see review.

Directions: Near Piazza Santo Spirito

The food here was fairly good and definitely inexpensive, however, we were turned off by the pace of the dinner and their obvious desire to turn the tables quickly.

There were 15 or so people lined up at the door watching us eat and waiting to get in. Our dishes arrived almost before we finished ordering them.

Now that we know not to expect the leisurely dining experience that one usually gets in Italy, I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem.

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

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