La dolce vita
Oooh … a taste of the sweet life is never better than in Florence.
MAMMA MIA!”, the leggie Italian hottie exclaimed lustily, over and over again. The Lord Restrain and I watched her throughout our sublime Florentine lunch.
Clad in an extremely short mini-dress and sky-high platforms, she traipsed in and out of the cramped but cosy Mangiafoco Wine bar/Cafe.
Her mobile never stopped ringing, so she politely kept tottering down the stone steps, and out onto the street to answer her insistent calls.
Halfway through her lunch, a gentleman who had been drinking wine at the narrow stand-up bar walked over to her table.
Handing her the receipt for her meal, which he had paid for, he informed her that his phone number was on the back of the receipt. Which resulted in a disbelieving “Mamma Mia!”
The Lord and I looked at each other and thought, “This is where the action is.” Socially, as well as food- and drink-wise.
The front portion of this charming space may be small, but several more tables are available inside.
Most importantly, a passionate and attentive team have created an ambience that thoroughly reflects the Italian love for the good life.
The waitress who served us both times we were there was very friendly and helpful. She readily suggested suitable wines, pulling out chilled bottles from two large canisters on the bar for us to taste and decide.
Her recommended array of eats were equally excellent.
We started with a dry white wine (‚6/RM26 each) to enhance the small portion of Tagliere Mangiafoco (‚16), a heavenly display of typical Tuscan salami and cold cuts arranged among selected cheeses, accompanied by honey truffle and wine marmalade.
The two bread platters were like wheat on wings – in no time at all they disappeared from our view.
While the Lord mostly preferred the bread, cheese and dip combo, I revelled in every slice of the cured meat, so fresh and full of flavour.
It was an adventure of tasty, contrasting textures: a piece of ciabatta, a cut of salami and a forkful of Brie. I did not want to go home, ever.
We polished off every morsel on the wooden trays and gleefully anticipated our next course.
The Insalata Vegetariana Con Caprino (‚12) duly followed. A tantalising exhibition of tomatoes, cucumber, celery, shredded carrot, spinach and a slab of the most divine goat’s cheese we’ve ever had. The tomatoes were surely sun-kissed, I swear.
Crunchy and succulent, with a light dressing, the salad cooled down our palates in preparation for the pasta to come.
Being in Italy is reason enough to overdose on pasta. And the Bauletti Allo Scoglio (‚9), spaghetti with scampi, was worth every calorie it contained.
Its mini lobsters were buried in a bed of swirling spaghetti lightly tossed in freshly diced tomatoes and herbs. Successive strands of pasta marinated in lobster allowed the taste of the seafood to stand out.
Wordlessly, we chewed on the lobster. Relish and rejuvenation resulted. Deftly diced tomatoes added a certain zing, a hint of the Tuscan sun. The Lord, unusually quiet, ate his serving and a half without the slightest murmur of discontent.
I had found this gem of a cafe by accident the day before, a gorgeous summer day in Florence, all blue skies with arresting wafts of pizza and coffee among the swirling tourists.
The Lord Restrain was busy working, stuck in a suit and tie in a hi-tech, hi-security building.
Meanwhile, I was left to wander alone through the centuries-old, cobbled streets of Tuscany’s capital, and stumbled into this modest cafe on a quiet street.
I knew then that I had to return with the Lord. In fact, the two of us could have just sat there all that afternoon, eating and drinking, simply soaking in the atmosphere without having to speak.
On trips like these the Lord always gets his Euro-mojo back. So, after the extremely satisfying meal, he sat back and proceeded to order his €2 Espresso and an American coffee (also ‚2) for me.
Then we went for the jugular (or arteries, if you prefer). Two types of tiramisu (‚5 each), a traditional, old-fashioned slice and a “dream” version with nuts and sprinkles, lots of cream cheese and a generous drizzle of chocolate sauce. The second version was so delicious that we ordered another piece.
I decided then and there that I could never, ever, live in Italy. If their constant celebration of the sweet life didn’t kill me, then for sure their food and wine would. Mangiafoco, after all, means “eater”. Mamma mia.
Lady Gasak fears the very thin line she treads between vanity and gluttony.
Tel: 00 39-055 265 8170
Facebook: Mangiafoco caffè – Wine bar
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat (10am-10pm)