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Santa Croce: Trattoria Pallottino

Via Isola del Stinche 1 , Phone: 055.289573

Reviewed by: Jeff Whiteaker from Slovakia, review #3844

When: 2011

Pallottino used to be a reliable standby, but having eaten there recently for the first time in four years, I feel that they've slipped a little in quality.

On trips to Florence in 2005 and 2007, I was quite wowed by Pallottino's pasta and risotto dishes, particularly a farfalle with truffle oil and zucchini shavings, and a risotto ai funghi porcini that was without question the best risotto I've ever had. However, coming back here in October of 2011, I noticed the food was a little lacking, a little less memorable or distinctive. Whereas I once recommended them pretty highly, they've slipped down my list to the point where I'm not sure they're worth mentioning anymore.

I ordered tagliatelle ai funghi porcini, which was good, but it came in a thick cream sauce, and they were really heavy-handed with it. This kind of dish works best when the sauce is light, and when the pasta is not drowning in cream. The porcinis were quite flavorful, though. My wife ordered farfalle with truffle cream sauce and slices of zucchini (similar to the one I mentioned above), but it just seemed to lack that "wow" factor that their pasta used to have. At least the pasta for both dishes was cooked perfectly al dente. So, not bad, just not that great.

For a secondo we split the chicken al mattone with roasted potatoes. Again, this was merely good. The chicken was pretty flavorful and tender, the potatoes were nicely roasted, but the whole thing was a little over-salted. Honestly, my wife (who, I admit, is a professional chef) makes this dish much, much better.

So, this review is really just an update to say that I don't recommend Pallottino as strongly as I used to. Based on this recent experience, I'd give them about a B-. You can find better food at places like I Tarocchi or Ristorante del Fagioli.

Reviewed by: Elizabethwix from USA, review #3605

When: 2010

The worst food we have ever had in Italy. Bloody under cooked chicken. Tasteless fiacciaria. Slow, unresponsive service.

My husband and I went to dinner there on Tuesday November 2nd 2010.

The service was very slow. No bread offered.

My husband's pasta fiacciaria was tasteless --not piquante at all. Just like tomato sauce.

His chicken was undercooked and bloody. We should have refused it. The waiters noticed when they removed his plate of uneaten food, but no explanation was given.

Waiter had to be asked twice for bill. Ungracious and depressing.

We have been travelling in Italy for 40 years and our experience here was HORRIBLE.

Price was 47 euros for two inferior dinners.

Reviewed by: Jeff Whiteaker from CA, review #2478

When: 2007

Pallottino is my favorite restaurant in Florence. I've eaten here multiple times now on several trips, and it has proven to be consistently stellar.

Located on an unassuming corner in the network of narrow, curving streets in the area just west of Piazza Santa Croce, Pallottino has been a consistently stellar experience with each visit. I should state, however, that the word on this place is out, but don't let that scare you.

Maybe it's because Sandra Gustafson gave it a rave review in her "Great Eats Italy" guide, but some tourists are onto Pallottino. However, rest assured that the locals seem to hold Pallottino in very high esteem (as one can clearly observe from the clientèle) and the food here is most definitely the real deal. On our most recent trip to Florence, my girlfriend and I ate here twice.

Pallottino's pastas have consistently dazzled my palette. My absolute favorite was a farfalle in a cream sauce with truffle oil and thin, grated zucchini shavings. The truffle oil is so potent you can smell it when someone else across the room orders it. The flavor was stunningly awesome and intense. Simple, basic, yet the mind blowing richness of the dish left me positively floored! *This* was exactly the kind of dish I came to Italy for.

My girlfriend had a risotto ai funghi porcini, which again, was jaw-droppingly amazing. With perfect texture and consistency, the wildly rich, earthy, fresh flavors made us both want to jump up and down and run around the block in sheer excitement. We decided this may very well be the best risotto either of us have ever had.

Other highly memorable primi include linguine with pesto, which had to be some of the very best pesto I've ever had. On a previous trip, I had their pesto with gnocchi, which was, again, perfect. My girlfriend had penne with gorgonzola and arugula, a simple dish made rich with what was some pretty potent gorgonzola in the cream sauce. For secondi, stand-outs include the veal scallopine with funghi porcini sauce, and the same with a cheese, tomato and oregano sauce. Both were excellent examples of this Tuscan standard, with perfectly prepared, tender veal and surprisingly rich, flavorful, yet simple sauces.

The prices here are totally reasonable: a good place for the budget-conscious. Also, the house red wine is excellent and perfectly smooth. It actually became the standard by which we judged other house reds throughout our trip. So, based on my experiences here, I can't recommend Pallottino enough.

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

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