Ristorante Parione – Florence
Florence has some of the best restaurants in the world. Now, I’m not a food expert in the sense that I can tell you the science of nutrition or the ingredients of a dish simply by taste. But I do love food. When I’m eating good food in Italy, I’m always in my happy place.
But eating good food in Italy isn’t necessarily a rare phenomenon. How then can we discern between a good restaurant and a favorite restaurant worth returning to time and time again? For me, other than the necessity for the food being incredible, the answer is in the atmosphere, and even more so, the service.
The restaurant I am featuring in this post has it all, and it is certainly in my top list of favorites. Ristorante Parione, located on Via del Parione in the center of Florence.
My very first experience at Parione was back in 2014 and was nothing short of perfect. After eating spaghetti al tartuffo followed by the Florentine classic bistecca alla fiorentina, the restaurant’s owner, Marco, offered my friend and I grappa on the house. When he brought over the bottle for us all to have a shot, I noticed that it did not say Grappa on the label, but instead said Acquavite. When I inquired, Marco explained that grappa and acquavite are essentially synonymous. It was at that time when I started ordering acquavite back in the United States at Italian restaurants, only to hear the waiters (and even the owners) say, “no, we only have Acqua Panna and Pellegrino”. I’ve had some good laughs over that one… So if you want to check whether an Italian restaurant in the US is authentic, as for some acquavite after dinner and see what they say…
Following this experience with the delicious food and owner’s generosity, it occurred to me that Marco is a food enthusiast, and a man after my own heart.
For lovers of food, it is imperative that we surround ourselves with restaurateurs who literally find pleasure in feeding others, and introducing their patrons to the very dishes and dining habits that define them as leaders in the culinary arts. Offering my friend and I acquavite and sitting with us to learn about our background immediately placed Marco and Parione above the rest.
Over the following few years, I returned to Parione many times and as expected, Marco continued demonstrating his generosity and selfless enthusiasm for food and patronage like no one has ever demonstrated for me.
One day back in 2012 I dined at another well-known restaurant in Florence with a local Florentine lawyer/friend, Ennio. Ennio ordered a dish called Animelle, which is the thymus of a lamb, also known as a sweetbread. It is soft in texture, and a Florentine delicacy, as Ennio explained. He let me taste a piece, and immediately I was hooked. For the following 2 years, however, I could not find a restaurant in Italy that offered Animelle on their menu (even the restaurant where Ennio and I ate which never seemed to have it again). This was disappointing, so I shared this problem with Marco. What did Marco do? He did what any first class restaurateur would do for his beloved patrons: he solved the problem.
Marco explained that Animelle is hard to find because it needs to be cooked very soon after it is cut from the animal or else it will go bad. Nevertheless, he told me to call him at least two days before I dine at Parione and he will do his best to find Animelle for me at the local markets.
So far Marco’s found it for me three times and he has never let me down, not to mention the way he prepares it is amazing.
This type of service is what separates the typical good Italian restaurant in Florence, to a fantastic restaurant worth returning time and time again. When the restaurateur bends over backwards to accommodate you, spends time with you, offers you items on the house, and is happy to see you return – that is when you know you found a restaurant to include to your list of favorites.
For more information, please visit: http://www.parione.net/en/. If you end up going, tell Marco that Anthony sent you, the American who always special orders Animelle!
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