Saturday Brunch

Targa Lungarno Colombo 7Targa
Lungarno Colombo 7 (bus 14)
Brunch on Saturdays (except August) from 11:30 am – 3 pm, reservations suggested
Open for lunch 12:30 – 2:30 pm, dinner from 7:30 – 11 pm; closed Sunday

The most delicious scrambled eggs and bacon I have ever eaten in my entire life were during Saturday brunch at chef Gabriele Tarchiani’s “Targa.”

I would normally be at a loss to explain how an Italian chef could possibly make such an exquisite version of this British and American breakfast specialty if I weren’t already acquainted with Gabriele.

As evident by the brunch buffet menu and décor at Targa, Gabriele has his own view of things.

“Nature is restful,” says Gabriele, and in fact, he designed Targa to resemble a greenhouse.  With a view of the lazy Arno river, Targa can be best described a glassed-in chalet with wood floors and tables (with the exception of a blue Bahia marble top), accented by potted and hanging plants.

For 25 euro (all-inclusive), the guest has access to a plentiful buffet, accompanied by open bottles of wine like Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montalcino, or water, beer and fruit juices.  In Italian style, espresso is served after the homemade cakes are brought out.

Before that, during my visit, the groaning table hosted an artichoke quiche; a display of cheeses ranging from taleggio and gruyére to the less common reblochon, a French mountain cheese; smoked salmon and fennel; asparagus soup; basmati risotto with grilled vegetables and mushrooms.

Those were just the starters.  Gabriele came out holding a pasta dish—again, delicious is an understatement.   The penne were sauced with a base of potatoes, leeks and mushrooms, to which the chef added a dash of oil made from the stems of beet greens.  The final touch to the al dente pasta was creamy chunks of cooked beet greens and peas, topped by shaved aged pecorino cheese.

Then the main courses arrived.  The black-aproned wait staff would appear periodically with just-cooked roast pork (arista) with sweet, red onions; polenta with hare sauce (alla lepre); mussels and potatoes; spicy broccoli and fresh anchovies as well as mini, grilled hamburgers.

At this point Gabriele asked, Chi vuole uove strapazzate? (Who wants scrambled eggs?), and we approached him with our plates. Just afterwards, however, a basket of tangerines was lowered from the beamed ceiling and the desserts were carried out, which included roasted chestnuts and a signature lemon mousse.  Then, some moved to the counter for a shot of strong coffee.

Overall, Targa’s atmosphere was festive, the food paradoxically light and delicate yet marked by decisive flavors—a truly memorable experience.  (rosanna cirigliano)