Quattro Leone is one of the most beautiful and charming restaurants in Florence, but it doesn’t let this go to its head. The restaurant combines casual and friendly service with beautiful surroundings. In summer, you can’t beat the flower-lined patio of the charming Piazza della Passera. In winter, you can enjoy the warmth of the beautiful dining room, separated into a number of intimate spaces.
All the young servers speak excellent English and the restaurant is far from formal. Instead it is charming and atmospheric with a sophistication that would suggest prices much higher than they are. This restaurant skirts the line between neighborhood trattoria and destination restaurant.
The chefs at Quattro Leone have captured the Tuscan spirit, and have elaborated on it. While the majority of the menu is very traditional, bright sparks of innovation shine through; but even these relatively modern creations fit into the general Tuscan context.
The signature Fiocchetti di Pera in Salsa di Taleggio (Pear and Ricotta Ravioli with Taleggio Fondue) creates a harmony of flavors. Quick and elusive sparks of sweet pear brighten tender ricotta stuffed ravioli cloaked in a rich, creamy and slightly salty taleggio fondue. This is an incredibly sophisticated and adult interpretation of mac n’ cheese.
On the other hand Taglietelle con Pomodoro e Basillico (Tagliatelle with Tomato and Basil) has an elegant and pristine simplicity. Silky thin fresh tagliatelle elevate this dish far beyond spaghetti pomodoro; the light tomato sauce and herbal basil strike a perfect balance.
Meats too, are excellently executed. Ossobuco comes spoon tender, cloaked in a rich sauce, an amalgam of long braised meat, red wine, and aromatic vegetables; while a delicate rabbit loin is the exact opposite, delicate meat tender and almost sweet, offset by the bright flavors of a pea puree.
The house red wine is light and quaffable. While it falls flat at the finish, it offers nice fruit upfront and is eminently affordable. This is an easy drinking unsophisticated wine, that pairs nicely with the food.
Signature Dishes: Fiocchetti di Pera in Salsa di Taleggio (Pear and Ricotta Ravioli with Taleggio Fondue)
Get It!: Fiocchetti di Pera in Salsa di Taleggio (Pear and Ricotta Ravioli with Taleggio Fondue)
Via de’ Vellutini, 1r (Piazza della Passera), Firenze. www.4leone.it; tel: 055218562. Open daily noon to midnight.