True Thanksgiving in Florence, 2018
Luckily for the students and U.S. residents living in Florence today, Thanksgiving festivities have gained popularity over the past decade and is now widely celebrated across the city. Many local restaurants will participate in the tradition by serving some of the holiday’s iconic and beloved dishes on this Thanksgiving Day, November 22.
Designed for a growing international community and Italian friends, there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge in the culinary delicacies as well as the spirit of giving. For those preparing Thanksgiving at home or are invited to another’s house, where to go to order an authentic pumpkin pie, pecan pie, carrot cake or red velvet cake made with genuine ingredients at a reasonable price is the Vanilla Bakery (055.046 2755).
Thanksgiving dining choices include a fundraiser for charity (Golden View); traditional (Ristorante Accademia, Francesco Vini, Porcopsino); modern gourmet (Bar e Cucina and Di Giovanni); a mix of the two (Ghianda); an unbeatable €5-6 turkey plate or sandwich excluding beverages (Pino’s deli); luxury (Harry’s Bar and Il Palagio); gluten-free (Ristorante Quinoa); American-style with a vegetarian option (Hard Rock). Reservations are recommended. Two of the locales (L’Accademia and Bar e Cucina) are using the leftovers either as a delectable platter or in the form of a sandwich at lunch on Friday, November 23.
The following is a guide.
GOLDEN VIEW RESTAURANT (Via de’ Bardi, 58/r; 055.214502)
According to owner Tommaso Grasso, Thanksgiving represents above all, “an opportunity to give back.”
The restaurant will give back to the community while offering guests a stunning view of the Ponte Vecchio and Arno River and a traditional Thanksgiving Day menu on Thursday. The meal will begin with a vegetarian quiche, followed by turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pan-fried pumpkin with walnut sauce and creamed corn. Following this feast, the restaurant will serve pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
The special menu will be available from lunchtime starting at 12:30 pm until midnight for a price of €40 per customer and €20 for students. Half of the proceeds will be donated to The Foundation for Healing Photo Art, a nonprofit organization which gives beautiful nature photos to bring comfort and hope to patients, their loved ones and caregivers in hospital rooms.
BAR E CUCINA (Via dei Neri, 12/r; 055.282634)
This restaurant opened just one year ago when owners Matteo Mechelli and Matteo Boglione returned to their birthplace, Florence, after careers in New York. The location is a comfortable space for spending time and meeting people.
The establishment will prepare a special menu on Thanksgiving day for €35 per person. The first course will include a choice of sweet potato or pumpkin soup with kale and truffle shavings; for the main course, guests can feast on turkey roll stuffed with chestnut apple stuffing. These dishes will be accompanied by sides of cornbread, fennel, honey-glazed roasted vegetables, green bean casserole, garlic mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Last but not least, the restaurant will top off the meal with a sweet selection of desserts: dark chocolate tart with pecan caramel sauce, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and sweet potato pie. A glass of spumante is also included with dinner, which will be served in two sittings at 7 and 9 pm.
On Friday, November 23 the leftovers will be served for lunch in delicious sandwiches for €10 each.
SALUMERIA VERDI (Via Verdi, 36/r)
Pino’s Sandwiches has a longstanding tradition of sharing the holidays with its loyal customers, many of whom are American students. For those craving the beloved dishes and warm, welcoming atmosphere typically found at Thanksgiving dinner, Pino and his family are adding a specially-created holiday sandwich to its menu on Thanksgiving Day.
The panino will combine turkey, gravy, chestnut stuffing and brie nestled between two pieces of schiacciata (focaccia bread). The deli will also prepare turkey breast, chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole as a main course. Salumeria Verdi invites their guests to stop by at any point throughout the day (restaurant hours are 9 am – 9 pm) for this tasty treat and to share what they are thankful for this holiday season. Sandwiches cost €5 and a plate of food costs €6.
Readers are invited to participate in a special Pino’s giveaway! Magenta Florence will pick four lucky winners to receive a free Thanksgiving or meatball sandwich; check the Magenta Florence facebook page for details.
RISTORANTE QUINOA (Vicolo di Santa Maria Maggiore, 1; 055.290876)
Quinoa opened its doors in 2014 as the first in Florence to specialize in gluten free cuisine. Located not from the Duomo and Piazza Repubblica, the former 16th century cloister ushers guests out of the bustling heart of the city and into an oasis. The dining area and courtyard are filled with aromatic plants and a flourishing vegetable garden, and the kitchen offers a varied menu free from risk of contamination for gluten intolerant diners.
For those whose dietary restrictions require it or for those who simply want to branch out and try a new style of Thanksgiving, Quinoa has prepared a three-course gluten free Thanksgiving Day menu. Guests can feast on butternut squash soup, turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, vegetables and pumpkin cake served with ice cream. The meal will cost €25 per person and includes a glass of water.
RISTORANTE ACCADEMIA (Piazza San Marco, 7; 055.217343)
This restaurant in the heart of Florence’s historic center is known for its delectable pasta, genuine Tuscan dishes and fine wines. Thanks to the influence of owner Gianni Lacovitti’s American wife, the establishment has also been serving Thanksgiving dinner for years.
This year’s menu will include pumpkin soup, cornbread, turkey with stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and creamed corn. For dessert, customers will have their choice of apple strudel, pumpkin pie or pecan pie.
The dinner will last from 6 – 10 pm and cost €35 per person excluding beverages. If customers find themselves hungry for more the next day, they can return on Friday, November 24 for a main course lunch of leftovers at €15 per person.
LA CUCINA DEL GHIANDA (Via dell’Agnolo, 85/r; 055.386.0534)
La Cucina del Ghianda serves creative, quality dishes under the supervision of Dr. Iacopo Iandelli. The former oncologist opened the restaurant with a group of friends during a year’s sabbatical from his long medical career. After years of reflection, he permanently traded his doctor’s jacket for a chef’s hat and apron, becoming a full time chef and owner of the restaurant.
Ghianda’s Thanksgiving menu will include pumpkin and pear cream soup with amaretto croutons, pumpkin gnocchi with speck in turkey broth, roast turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and Brussel sprouts. In addition to these savory dishes, the doctor and his team will offer their customers pumpkin pie or sweet potato pudding, a small carafe of wine, bread and water.
The delicious meal will cost €28 per person.
FRANCESCO VINI RESTAURANT (Borgo dei Greci, 7/r; 055.218737)
Owners Fabio La Brusco and his Floridian wife Jody have prepared a special meal for their delighted customers every Thanksgiving for the past eight years. Dinner will be served in their unique wine cellar-style restaurant at 7 pm on Thanksgiving Day for €35 per person, beverages excluded.
The meal will comprise cream of pumpkin soup, turkey with stuffing, corn on the cob, sweet potatoes, green beans, mashed potatoes with truffle shavings, and apple pie with cinnamon ice cream. Thanksgiving will be the day’s special, allowing guests to also order from the regular dinner menu.
L’OSTERIA DI GIOVANNI (Via del Moro, 22, tel. 055.284897)
As a restaurant that prides itself on its international staff and influence, it is fitting that L’Osteria di Giovanni will prepare an authentic American Thanksgiving dinner to offer its customers.
Beginning at 7:30 pm on Thursday, the restaurant will serve turkey with chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and apple pie. The menu will also include creative vegetarian appetizers and a first course of risotto with chestnuts and leeks. For dessert, there is a choice of pecan pie, pumpkin cheesecake, eggnog cake or Carole Latini’s signature brownie.
The large-portioned meal will cost €50 per person and include premium Frescobaldi wine and a complimentary glass of sparkling spumante.
HARD ROCK CAFE (Via dè Brunelleschi, Piazza della Repubblica, 1; 055.277841)
The Thanksgiving meal at the Florence establishment of this rock ‘n’ roll themed franchise will begin with savory corn chowder made of a vegetable base, pureed corn, celery, potato and onions and garnished with bacon bits and parsley. For the main course, a plate of buttery roasted turkey, chestnut/sausage stuffing, golden mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and cranberry sauce will come to the table.
Dessert is a slice of pumpkin cheesecake topped with whipped cream. Dinner with a selection of sodas costs €28 per person and €33 per person for the meal with sodas and an additional bottle of beer. There will also be a children’s menu with a reduced price of €15 for kids up to 10 years old.
Vegetarian customers can order the corn chowder without bacon and seitan with chestnut stuffing only instead of turkey.
TRATTORIA IL PORCOSPINO (Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini, 11/r; 055.217700)
This restaurant celebrates Italian culinary tradition from its location in front of the Medici Chapels, just a few steps from the Duomo. Il Porcospino is not only known for only attentive and refined service, but for a tasting room with original terracotta vaults where customers can discover Tuscan wines.
This Thanksgiving, the restaurant will uphold a long-standing tradition with special decorations and a menu of turkey with stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, sweet potatoes, green beans and apple pie.
The meal will cost €27 per person including drinks.
HARRY’S BAR (Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci, 22/r; 055.239.6700)
Harry’s Bar has the longest standing tradition of Thanksgiving dinner in Florence. Since the 1960’s, the sophisticated restaurant has catered to its international customers’ cravings for the holiday fare.
This year’s meal will include corn on the cob and sweet potatoes, creamy pumpkin soup with crunchy bacon, roast stuffed turkey with chestnut stuffing, carrots, onions, and cranberry sauce, followed by citrus cheesecake. Guests will also be offered coffee, miniature pastries and water.
The menu costs €65, not including wine that is ordered.
IL PALAGIO AT THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL (Borgo Pinti 99; 055.26261)
The elegant atmosphere of Il Palagio Restaurant of the five-star Four Season Hotel is an unforgettable setting for a gourmet Thanksgiving dinner. Executive chef Vito Mollica has designed a creative menu which features the traditional holiday main course: turkey, served with an herb stuffing, cranberry sauce and sweet potato purée.
This will be preceded by a starter of lobster with green gazpacho with lime and chili pepper and a truffle pumpkin risotto with seared scallops. Dessert offers a choice of a creamy chestnut honey cake, rosemary-flavored bavarian cream, orange and apricot sorbet.
The tab for this memorable dining experience at the Four Seasons is €110 excluding beverages. (leigh van ryn & trent garrett/reporting by rosanna cirigliano)