Pizza Margherita & More at the Sophia Loren Restaurant
Neapolitan pizza made UNESCO’s Intangible Culture Heritage list on December 6, 2007, and the anniversary was commemorated with a Google Doodle on the same day in 2021. Although it takes some searching, good Neapolitan pizza can also be found in the quintessential city of the Renaissance.
The legendary Italian actress, Sophia Loren, has collaborated in a new restaurant and pizzeria in the heart of Florence. The restaurant, Sophia Loren Original Italian Food, has a Neapolitan focus, which is directly connected to Loren’s roots in Naples. The new venue is perfectly placed between via Brunelleschi and Piazza della Repubblica, close to the magnificent Duomo (designed by Brunelleschi) directly in the historic center.
The interior is lush with hanging plants and velvet chairs. There are various seating arrangements to welcome single diners, couples and large groups. The lighting is bright, which creates a more casual ambience. The kitchen is open so it is possible to watch your pizza being prepared. The staff is friendly, multi-lingual and knowledgeable.
While it is possible to have a typical “first course” here, the focus is really on the antipasti and wood-fired pizza. The offerings of salumi and cheeses are plentiful and of good quality. The salads are colorful and fresh. The “melanzane a funghetto” is an exceptional appetizer of lightly fried eggplant and tomato, with added fresh basil.
A test of a pizzeria is to sample the most basic of pies, the margherita. The Loren pizza did not disappoint. The balance of ingredients is on point with its combination of sauce and mozzarella. Beyond the classics, there are many pies to tempt your tastebuds. Maybe the “Parmigggiana,” (eggplant and shavings of parmigiano cheese) “4 Formaggi,” (four cheeses) or “Salsiccia” (sausage) would be your choice? The “Ricordo di Nonna” with thin-sliced potato, fior di latte mozzarella, red and green sweet and sour peppers and cacioricotta cheese was incomparable! The pizza was a delight to both the eye and the palate.
The restaurant has its own team of stars that contributed their expertise to the planning of the menu. The menu was created by Gennaro Esposito, chef of the two-star Michelin rated Torre del Saracino near Naples. The award-winning pizzaiolo, Francesco Martucci of I Masanielli in Caserta, developed the pizza recipes for the restaurant. And, Carmine Di Donna, a long-time colleague of Gennaro Esposito, oversees the pastries and sweets.
Some people might consider the Sophia Loren restaurant to be for tourists. The beautiful setting, delicious food, and fine service, however, is for visitors and locals alike. It’s definitely a popular spot, so a reservation is recommended; tel. 055/493 4400. (pat thomas)