You’ll see a lot of people dining at Re Matto, but you won’t see a tourist. The traffic-filled Viale dei Mille which leads to the stadium, and one of Florence’s concert halls is a bit of the tourist track. At lunch the restaurant is empty, but at night it fills with local families and friends celebrating birthdays, graduations, or just a night out. They are drawn to the extensive menu, convenient location, relaxed atmosphere and most importantly the prices.
That said the menu is divided into meat and seafood dishes, with appetizers, pastas and main dishes in each category; and then there is the pizza, with plenty of more options. Pizzas are easiest on the wallet, but unfortunately not the restaurant’s forte. Thankfully the restaurant makes up for it with good appetizers and seafood pasta. Get a large bubbling dish of Moscardini al Guazetto and you’ll have to be very careful not to burn your tongue on the small octopi in their rich tomato sauce; and while the pizza doesn’t measure up the Coccoli con Strachino e Prosciutto certainly does.
Risotto, when available, is perfectly cooked, tender and full of flavor, and pasta likewise. Diverse daily specials add plenty of other options to choose from including, such un-Italian standards as a German Beer Braised Pork Shank or American Style BBQ Ribs & Chicken on one recent evening. This is not your typical Italian menu, although the majority of the menu is firmly grounded in Italian tradition, plenty of surprises pop up.
Desserts are homemade and include a Warm Apple Cake with Mascarpone Cream and a Torte of Ricotta and Pear; better bets than your typical Panna Cotta (too firm) or warm chocolate soufflé (really just your standard molten chocolate cake.) The Crema di Mascarpone with the apple cake is delicious, sweet, creamy and almost mousse like with its lightness. Like everything else, the portions are large, and while they aren’t the best desserts you will find, they are better than desserts at many restaurants. That is really what this neighborhood restaurant excels at; giving you just a bit more and a bit better than what you can get at most other restaurants, at a fair price.
Signature Dishes: Trionfo allo Scoglio (Spaghetti with Shellfish), Frittura Mista di Pesce (Fried Mixed Seafood)
Get It!: Risotto con Carcioffi e Gamberi (Risotto with Shrimp and Artichokes), Torta di Mela con Mascarpone (Warm Apple Cake with Macarpone)
Viale dei Mille, 152, Florence. www.osteriarematto.it; tel: 055 583851