L’OV Vegetarian Restaurant
A new gourmet restaurant, which offers vegetable friendly renditions of traditional meat based dishes, has added shades of green to Florence. Open just over a month, L’OV (L’ Osteria Vegetariana), piazza del Carmine 4/r), provides diners with healthy alternatives to complement a vegetarian diet, and with certain menu options, a vegan diet. Click here to see a slide show.
Previously a fish market, customers can enjoy L’OV’s rustic atmosphere. Laced with hanging plants, bohemian inspired decorations, the venue has a temperate ambiance thanks to the stone architecture and a white marble wall that was once behind the fish counter. The menu is 40% vegan and nearly 100% gluten free, as described by the restaurant manager, Luca.
The restaurant values fresh food—nothing is frozen or refrigerated. Delivered by bike every day, the fruit is not exposed to changes in temperature maintains flavor and consistency of the product.
Divided into starters and main courses, the first six menu items are fixtures, while the remaining change week by week, depending on the freshest available ingredients. No desserts are listed because different varieties are made daily. The light menu options are perfectly paired with the restaurant’s rosé. Originating from an estate in Montecarlo near Lucca, the wine was recently judged the second best of its type in Italy.
Every meal begins with a basket of warm bread, something rare to find in a restaurant. The starters are light, but appetizing. One appetizer, Insalatina di Anguria, Finocchi, Feta e Olive di Grecia (€10) embodies the coolness of a summer night. Watermelon paired with rich cheese, seasoned olives and fennel creates a juxtaposition of flavors that satisfies the palate.
One starter in particular, that stole the show, was the Millefoglie di Stracciatella Fior di Latte e Pesto Leggero di Pomodori Secchi (€10) which is a stacked toasted bread dish, with each thin, soft slice separated with a plump amount of smooth and creamy mozzarella cheese, topped with a decadent sun-dried tomato pesto. The mozzarella itself makes it difficult to keep your fork constantly digging into the plate. The naturally smooth cheese, airy bread, and rich tomato pesto creates an experience where there is a lovely balance of cream and spice.
The Zucchina Tonda Pipiena di Miglio con Friggitelli all Fiorentina (€9), which is round zucchini tuffed with quinoa, served on top of sweet peppers, dressed delicately with an olive oil drizzle. The quinoa is perfectly seasoned, while the natural flavors of the peppers and zucchini justify its aroma.
There are multitudes of entrée options of Italian, Japanese and Greek origins. The Gran Frittura dell’ Orto con Salas Tartara (€16) has a tempura approach. Instead of deep fried meats, seasonal vegetables, such as zucchini and eggplant, are substituted. Another savory dish Ravioli di Ricotta e Spinaci al Sugo Finto al Profumo di Ginepro (€14) reflects Italian history. Generations ago, the poorer Florentines could not afford a meat ragu, so they created a tomato, vegetable and herb sauce base, “sugo finto.” The restaurant has modified its flavor, by adding delicacies to the mix, such as soy and juniper berries.
The mastermind behind the recipes and Quinoa, Florence’s first gluten-free restaurant, Simone Bernacchioni has carefully instructed his highly skilled staff to recreate his masterpieces. Luca, the restaurant manager, is responsible for the styling.” At the L’OV’s preopening, over 50 people sampled Simone’s exquisite dishes, and as the perfectionist he is, Simone adjusted the menu after receiving feedback; only the best will be served.
The restaurant is divided into two sections, a front bar and a back lounge. The front is well lit due to the vast number of windows, and has a breathable atmosphere thanks to the antique, high vaulted ceilings. The back is an intimate setting, perfect for birthday parties, graduations, or other special events.
For both the lovers of gourmet food and the health conscious individuals, L’OV (open 7 – 11 pm, Monday – Saturday) does not disappoint. The staff is attentive to provide the best service available, and create a fine dining experience. Reservations recommended; phone: 055/2052388. (jennifer klammer)
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