Florence’s Takeaway Thanksgiving 2020: A Guide
Over recent years, Thanksgiving, which this year falls on November 26, has become a popular American tradition that even Italians and other foreigners like to partake in. Despite a worsening COVID situation, many around Florence have not let that stop them from getting into the holiday spirit. Since the city and the Tuscan region have slipped into the red zone, the prospect of celebrating becomes a creative task, with safety the priority.
Though the worst of the current health emergency is not over yet, there is nothing better than a delicious meal meant to express gratitude. Not everyone will be able to get together physically due to the limitations about travel and guests from other households, but there is a way to help minimize the distance. No one says you can’t have dinner together over Zoom!
Thanksgiving is a tradition that dates as far back as 1621 when some of the first New England settlers came together with Native Americans to celebrate their bountiful harvest. The foods that were indigenous to the Americas at the time created the standard for today’s meal: wild turkey, squash, corn, green beans, and cranberries. Potatoes, however, did not appear on the menu until almost half a century later, and pumpkin until the 19th century. Unlike typical Italian meals that are served in courses, Thanksgiving is usually served all at once with the turkey as a centerpiece and all of the accompanying sides surrounding it. People have built upon the standard to incorporate their own traditions like macaroni and cheese, roasted Brussel sprouts and bacon, bread pudding, and more.
For those feeling ambitious enough to take on the grand dinner themselves, it’s easy to find all the ingredients. You may have to go to several markets and grocery stores to get them all, but the result at the end will be worth it.
Vivi Market on via del Giglio supplies all the good American stuff from cranberry sauce and canned pumpkin, to graham cracker crusts, marshmallows, and sweetened condensed milk. Sweet potatoes, yams and ground spices can be found at local Conad or Esselunga supermarkets or the greengrocer. Several butchers are taking orders for just the breast to the whole bird, ready to roast at home. Polleria Lanini at Sant’Ambrogio (055 248 0629) will actually deliver the turkey to your door. The six Macellerie Vignoli locations throughout the city in addition to Macelleria Tordi (055 490820) on viale Don Minzoni will customize the stuffing to your liking, from truffle, to artichokes, and more – the creative possibilities are endless. If preparing a turkey seems too arduous, La Mangiatoia in Piazza San Felice (055 224060) and the Rosticceria in piazza Ferrucci (055 680 1351) will do the roasting for you, cooked to perfection.
For those not so savvy in the kitchen or overwhelmed with the number of dishes to make, there are a number of choices available displaying traditional or modern flair, brought right to your home.
The Djària American Bar on via de’ Serragli will be preparing an abundant, traditional-style meal for €30 a person (with a special price offered to families) and is accepting pre-orders until November 19. Founded and run by the New Jersey native Sarah Webb and her Italian husband Nicolò Scanferlato, Djària was named in honor of their dogs: Django (a setter and springer spaniel adopted after being found in a dumpster) and Aria (a boxer). With 14 years in the business, Sarah is the reputable cook. Given her background, she knows all the right flavors, while Nicolò, who was the barman when the restaurant was open to the public before the Covid shutdown, will be making the deliveries. On Djària’s Thanksgiving menu are all the typical dishes such as roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy or sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, green bean casserole, cornbread, and a choice of pumpkin or apple pie—two hefty dessert servings are included per person. Can’t forget the cranberry sauce! Contact on WhatsApp at +39 348 913 9531.
Another transplanted local personally cooking up Thanksgiving favorites is the woman behind The Dolce Vita Experience, also accepting pre-orders but only until November 19. Here personal chef Ileana Collado from New York will provide an elaborate, gourmet set up for only €15 a person. Each person has a choice of white or dark turkey meat; up to three sides such as creamy green beans and mushrooms, sausage cornbread stuffing, chive mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and more; and a slice of pumpkin, apple, or even pecan pie. When asked about the incredible deal, Collado says, “It’s an important holiday, and it’s the little things that make us happier.” She even serves a turkey sandwich option made from the “leftovers” available for €6. Contact on Instagram @thedolcevitaexperience or WhatsApp at +39 331 579 6997. Pick up is on November 26 or 27 from the Sant’Ambrogio area between 10 am and 12 noon.
If you’re not too big on having an elaborate meal but still want to try all the fixings, Salumeria Verdi – Pino’s Sandwiches, via Verdi 36/r (055 244 517), offers a delicious, hefty, all-in-one holiday sandwich composed of sliced turkey breast, gravy, chestnut stuffing, and brie cheese toasted between two slices of schiacciata for only €6. They can be ordered from Monday, November 23 on the Firenze A Domicilio platform. From there, people have the option to have the Pino’s signature turkey sandwich delivered (9:30 am – 10 pm) or choose a date and time to pick it up (9:30 am – 7:30 pm) between November 26 and 27.
Marking their 20th annual traditional Thanksgiving lunch and dinner, Ristorante Accademia returns with a truly American menu thanks to the owner’s wife from New York. For €25 a person, diners can feast on turkey with stuffing and gravy, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, and cranberry sauce preceded by pumpkin soup; for dessert, there is the choice of pumpkin, pecan pie, or apple strudel. Delivery begins the day of and goes into the weekend until Saturday, November 28. Pre-orders are available until 8 pm on November 24. Pick-up and delivery is by appointment starting at noon from Piazza San Marco. Contact on WhatsApp at +39 335 561 8116.
Looking for child-friendly options? The owners and chefs behind Melaleuca, Australian Chloe Guest and Italian American Marco Cappellari, are taking orders for their take on Thanksgiving until November 23. For €15, they are offering smaller portioned meals for kids with the main components: turkey, stuffing, sweet potato mash with a savory crumble and side of cranberry sauce. Inspired by their experience in the restaurant business, they’ve created a wonderful spread for €30. Of course, in addition to the classical turkey and cranberry sauce, there are sides such as house milk rolls with honey butter; sage and sweet potato casserole (optional crumble topping); sourdough bread stuffing; crispy kale and Jerusalem artichoke salad with walnuts, persimmon, blackberries, and thyme; and roasted Hokkaido pumpkin. To confirm your order, payment can be made in person with cash or credit card from 9 am to 2 pm at their storefront or through wire transfer. Take-away and delivery are by appointment. Email email@example.com or phone +39 055 614 6894 for more info.
For those celebrating more intimately, Hard Rock Cafe is offering dinner for two at a special price of €37.97 that includes a slice of strawberry cheesecake for dessert, while an individual meal costs €17.95. On the menu is slow-roasted turkey, classic stuffing, fresh grilled vegetables, mashed sweet potatoes and gravy, and cranberry sauce. Pre-order online for delivery on their website. For take-away or other questions, contact the restaurant at +39 055 277841 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The menu will be available the day of and into the weekend until Saturday, November 28 from 11 am to 10 pm.
Jackie Pollis has created sugar cookie kits in fun shapes such as turkeys, pie slices and fall foliage. Either already decorated or in DIY-style, the kits provide an at-home activity to get into a festive spirit. For info, email email@example.com.
To enjoy delicious pumpkin, apple or pecan pies by a London-trained baker in addition to pumpkin bread and cupcakes, pre-order at the Vanilla Cake Bakery in Galluzzo at 055/046-2755 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The pies come in normal, large, and extra-large sizes, starting from €13 with pecan being an additional €2, while cupcakes come in normal or large sizes for €1.30 and €2.50 respectively. Pumpkin cupcakes can be frosted with a choice of cream cheese or buttercream. Carrot cake will be on the menu as well. The cut off for orders is Tuesday, November 24.
On top of dinner, Melaleuca is also providing an extensive dessert list made in-house by hand. Including the usual pumpkin and apple pies, there is also sweet potato pie, and banoffee pie (a blend of bananas, cream and toffee). Prices range from €25-30 for whole pies but select pies (pumpkin, apple, lemon meringue) can be ordered by the slice (€4.50) to half a pie (€15). For those that are gluten-free, be sure to try their key lime or lemon meringue pies. Also available is their pumpkin bread with walnuts (€18) or cinnamon rolls (6/€20 or 9/€27). Refer to the Melaleuca section above for how to place your order.
Though Thanksgiving feels – and looks – a lot different this year, there is no shortage of options to get your holiday fix. As this difficult year comes to a close, it feels that much more important to take a day to remember our good fortunes, all that we’ve overcome, and the good times to which we can still look forward. (cathy doherty/additional reporting by rosanna cirigliano)