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Oltrarno/Palazzo Pitti: Trattoria la Mangiatoia

Piazza San Felice, 8-10r , Phone: 055.224060

Closing day: Monday

Reviewed by: Kevin Clark from Italy, review #1752

When: 2005

Good value, but only for small appetites.

First, based on other reviews on this site, it seems like La Mangiatoia may have recently changed or been remodeled (change of ownership?). The stairs in the front don't appear to be used any longer, instead there's a modern-looking dining area with a dozen or so tables in the back. The window display in the rosticceria still has the delicious looking spread of roasted meats and veggies. The menu still sounds great, with a full page of daily specials, and the prices are definitely reasonable.

The meal, though, didn't live up to expectations. My wife started with risotto di zucca, which was the best thing on the table. I had canneloni filled with ricotta and spinach; the pasta was fresh but the filling was bland and it was drowned in a clotty, lukewarm bechamel. We both had the arrosta mista for our main courses, and while everything was tasty, there was about 6 mouthfuls on each plate. I got two short ribs with very little meat on them, the ribcage of a rabbit (not much meat there, as you might guess), and very thin slices of arista di maiale (excellent but not much of it) and turkey breast. It's the first meal I've had in 12 days in Florence that I left hungry. Mind you, I'm not necessarily looking for super-size portions, but I do expect to feel like I've been fed. As mentioned earlier, the value is still there - under 30 for two including a mezzo of wine and water. Just don't go or choose differently if you're really hungry!

Reviewed by: AlliK from DC, review #1288

When: 2005

Excellent value - we ate here 3 times during our 4 days in Florence

We obviously liked this place since we ate here 3 times during our 4 day stay in Florence. I remembered it fondly from my student days in Florence 4 years earlier, and we visited once for lunch and twice for dinner this time. There are plenty of Italians eating there, but tourists have found their way as well.

There is a little outdoor patio in the back which is nice if you get there early enough (around 7) to nab a table. I'd definitely recommend La Mangiatoia for anyone looking for a break from higher priced restaurant eating. The great value of the various pastas, mains and sides make it very easy to get a satisfying meal here. Now for the food...

For lunch, we ordered 2 quattro stagioni pizzas, a side of string beans (with lots of great olive oil), and sparkling water. I really like their pizzas, and they're a good size. Total = 17 euros.

For our 1st dinner, we split an antipasto toscano (2 types of salami, prosciutto, crostini with liver pate, olives, and artichoke hearts), then ordered spaghetti alla carbonara (probably not the best traditional carbonara, but rich and tasty nonetheless) and spaghetti aglio e olio (spicy!). We shared a very flavorful roast pork loin and had sides of fennel baked with parmiggiano and a caponata with zucchini, peppers and potatoes (the veggies were great). We drank a half liter of the house red (a little rough, but cheap) and had some fresh strawberries in a light syrup for dessert. Total = 34 with a couple euros tip for our nice waitress.

For our 2nd dinner, we ate tagliatelle ai porcini (yes, they were frozen but still had good flavor), spaghetti all' amatriciana, the caponata (again), eggplant alla parmigiana (very good), and peas (mushy, but good flavor). With sparkling water, the total only came to 21.50.

Reviewed by: Texas Jim from TX, review #876

When: 2004

All in One: Trattoria, Tavola Calda and Rosticceria

Directions: Past Pitti Palace on same side of street

Stumbled on this unpretentious place as we passed the tourist traps across from the Pitti Palace. The roasted chickens, ribs, and "thumpers" in the window called out for a taste but we almost passed it up since my wife's feet indicated that we needed to sit.

I didn't believe that this could also be a Trattoria, but the sign indicated otherwise. Stuck my head in and saw the tiny steps leading to the basement. We took the plunge and were pleasantly surprised.

Very small place; only ten tables. Only one other table filled (12:45) at the time, but as soon as we got there it filled completely up (with locals). We thought it was pretty warm inside and were right. As soon as three more groups came in, they turned on the air. Only one waitress, but she was equal parts of friendly and energetic.

We had crostini (OK), split one canneloni with ricotta and pureed spinach, one order of roasted meats (great flavor), and one order of fried zucchini (crisp and delicate). The meats and canneloni came from the tavola calda, but were respectively still good and not too dry or soggy.

Although we didn't see it on the menu, we asked for and got sliced strawberries with lemon juice and sugar. We added a bottle of San G. Vernaccia and water and got out for 30 euros.

A bit farther down the street is an entrance to the Boboli Gardens which is closer than having to retrace steps.

Reviewed by: Doru from Canada, review #714

When: 2003

Delicious food, very good value, a simple meal with all the trimmings.

Directions: Just up Via Guicciardini, a few steps from Palazzo Pitti

For us it was a return visit to what we remembered from years past as a pleasant, inexpensive yet a good quality rosticceria.

In fact, la Mangiatoia is a factotum type of restaurant, but still foremost a rosticceria, and this is what one should have here, whether chicken, pork, beef, etc. There are in fact three rooms: the front, where the bar counter is and where the locals eat on the go at the bar, then a lower level room, which mostly visitors find because the few steps going down are the first thing one notices after ignoring the bar, and another room up a few steps, which one has to know the place to see, or to be directed to by the staff.

The menu is simple, and we ordered two quarters of chicken, roasted to perfection, skin crackling under the fork and between fingers, excellent fries, water and beer, coffees and prompt service from a competent waiter who was being helped by a dumbwaiter which brings the food down from upstairs. The lunch added up to 22 euro with tip, and it was delicious.

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

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