Live here long enough and you will find a favorite; everyone is partial to a particular Panino con Lampredetto. The list involves the usual roster of favorites; and Pollini deserves to be at or near the top, although quality seems to have fallen slightly as they doubled their hours.
The corner stand is just a stone’s throw from Sant’ Ambrogio market, nearly at the foot of the steps for the church of Sant’ Ambrogio. Arrive at 1pm and join the crowd of people massed around the stand. The wait doesn’t last long, and it is part of the fun. The father/son team work quickly, son slicing up lampredotto and slapping sandwiches together three or four at a time, dad taking payments and serving plates of Trippa Fiorentina (Stewed Tripe in Tomato Sauce).
Listen to the jostling banter and jesting between the crew and the crowd, friendly jibing abounds. Soon the son will catch you eye and call out for your order; now’s the time call loudly declare “Panino con Lampredotto, completo.” If he asks, in his thick Tuscan accent, “Picccante?” nod your head yes. The sauces here are a masterpiece.
Watch as he works quickly, grabbing a round crusty bun from a large sack; slicing it in half horizontally and quickly scooping out the center from the top half of the bun. This creates a large cavity to hold the meat. Then he spears a thick section of simmered lampredotto from the broth and slices it quickly into thin strips. This goes on the bottom roll. A quick dash of salt, and then a liberal dollop of vibrant salsa verde (parsley, olive oil and garlic sauce) followed by a dose of spicy chili oil. Now that empty top half of the roll takes a dip in the cooking broth, the bread sopping up its flavors. Quickly wrapped in plastic, the sandwiches are doled out to the eager crowd. Grab a plastic cup, and pour yourself a glass of cheap table wine. Its rusticity just manages to stand up to the brash flavors of the meat.
Take one of the spots at the side of the counter and tuck in. The sandwich gets better as you go. It also gets messier. (See How to Eat a Panino con Lampredotto.) Finish you wine. Wipe your hands a final time, and hand over 4.50 euro for your lunch and wine. It was fun, wasn’t it? This is Florence.
Signature Dish: Panino con Lampredotto (Lampredotto Sandwich)
Get It!: Panino con Lampredotto complete (Lampredotto Sandwich with Salsa Verde and Chili)
Via de’ Macci (corner of Borgo La Croce), Florence. tel: 334 7782350. Open until 3pm, Closed Sunday.