It is an experience in itself to visit some of the world’s top restaurants. Although we have been disappointed with some of the 1- and 2-star Michelin restaurants; you can be sure to always get the best food and service at their top restaurants. This time we return to Enoteca Pinchiorri. Last time we visited this fort in Florence, we were amazed at the 16-course tasting menu where all the dishes were magnificent. This time we wanted to explore the dishes on their new menu.
The adventure of Enoteca Pinchiorri started in the 70s. French Annie Feolde traveled to Florence to visit family, and she met Giorgio Pinchiorri, a passionate wine collector. He had an incredible ability to obtain the best vintages from the most important vineyards.
Together they established the wine bar Enoteca Nationale, where Annie cooked light dishes and gourmet food carefully selected to fit with the wines in Giorgio’s collection. By serving wine by the glass from these exquisite wines, they set a new trend on the market.
Customer feedback stated that the food was great, but the wine was amazing! The feedback triggered Annie to become more competitive, by ensuring that the meals were of the same high quality as Giorgio’s wines, which were already legendary. After working at 3 selected restaurants in France and Italy, she returned to Florence with newly acquired knowledge. In the 80’s, the restaurant, which had changed to its current name, received its first Michelin star.
The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the palace of Jacometti-Cioffi, a large and glorious 1800’s palazzo close to the wonderful Santa Croce church.
We are welcomed by, Antonella, the daughter of Giorgio and Annie, who shows us to a lovely corner table in one of the restaurant’s five main living rooms. We are served a glass of Champagne while we look at the menu. A pianist plays in the background. Annie even comes to our table and asks if she can help us with the menu. We have a lovely chat, and she tells a bit about the history of this place. We notice later on that she keeps walking around, chatting to the guests. For the menu, there is no 16-course menu “Degustazione” as on our previous visits; however, Annie explains that they like to vary and surprise their guests. We opt for an 8-course “Contemporary” menu, dedicated to “the Italian cuisine’s ingredients, technique and taste”.
The sommelier (wine waiter) Antonio, who has worked here for decades, guides us through the wine selection this evening. This restaurant has one of the largest wine lists in the world, with a very rich wine-pairing list. By choosing the varying 8-course menu, we are drawn towards the latter. The wine pairing menu is one of the great advantages of this restaurant. There is a choice of 5 different wine-pairing menus, with prices range from expensive to extremely expensive, The most expensive wine menu costs 10.000 euros. We take a deep breath and settle for a menu in the middle price range.
After some delicate Amuse bouches, we were served dish number one: steamed cod with mimosa potatoes, shallots and parsley sauce. Then followed another fish dish, John Dory and octopus with sprouts of spinach, béarnaise sauce, served with lemon and chamomile jelly. Dish number three was Tagliatelle mixed with herbs, scampi, green beans and pancetta. Then another pasta dish followed, an Agnolotti filled with white polenta and “Chiocciole vignaiole”. (small, local snails). Throughout the meal, we spot Giorgio in his best clothes, walking around the restaurant, ensure that all the guests are pleased.
The fifth dish was a croquette of rabbit with olives and salad. Mora Romagnolas, dish number six, consisted of suckling pig with parsley, green sauce and lemos. This was followed by Gorgonzola semifreddo, i.e. half-frozen with beans. For pudding, we were served Lemon delight, a dessert based on limoncello, almond milk and herbs.
We have reached the conclusion that it was all incredibly tasty. Although the dishes were quite traditional, the evening was full of surprises, and most importantly, the food was succulent. Their combination of food and wines are exquisite. However, I think we had a bit too much to drink…
After dinner we were invited on an exciting tour of the wine cellar. We first walked through various security systems and iron lattices. With an estimated value of well over 100 million euros, high security is clearly a must in the basement of Palazzo Jacometti Cioffi. Some of these bottles are unreplaceable, such as a Sassicaia from 1872, while a Metusaleh (6 ltr) is available for 300,000 Euro. One of the guests who wanted to buy the first Romanée-Conti 2 million Euro bottle from Giorgio, got a polite decline. In this basement you find treasures from the world’s wine history. All the important wine houses in Italy and France are represented and with vintages that most wine collector can only dream of.
The wine cellar has expanded since the 1970s and today it is one of the most impressive wine cellars in the world, with over 120,000 bottles from more than 4,000 different wines. These are carefully considered and purchased according to strict quality criteria. The most impressive, however, is that the wine cellar probably has the largest collection of historical first editions and top wines among the world’s best wine houses. If you visit the restaurant, make sure you get a tour.
Master chef Riccardo Monco has worked at Pinchiorri for 24 years; however, Annie is in charge of the menus. Together, Riccardo and her discuss new flavor combinations based on the ingredients, considering availability of raw materials, area, smell and taste. They have worked together for years, both equally engaged in the process. Giorgio is in charge of the wine selection and, with a genuinely charming staff, they all make a special team.
The food at Enoteca Pinchiorri is amazingly tasty. However, the restaurant distinguishes itself from other three-star Michelin restaurants through its wine selection and wine pairing menus. If you have the slightest interest in food and wine, you are in heaven here.
As we leave, Annie, appearing with the couple’s two dogs, waves us good bye, which shows that Enoteca Pinchiorri is a family run gourmet restaurant of the best quality. We already look forward to our next culinary visit.
Unfortunately, our camera stopped working, so instead, we bring a number of pictures of some of the delights you can experience at Enoteca Pinchiorri.