“Cotta A Puntino”

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Just outside of Porta Romana and the historical center, “Cotta a Puntino” is on the old road that leads to Siena. Don’t let the traffic deter you, it is worth stopping. This neighborhood restaurant unfolds in a series of rooms, allowing for tables to be spread out and to keep noise down.

The busy pizza oven turns out wonderful breads, including a thick doughy focaccia topped with tomato sauce and herbs that helps keep you sated while you wait. Service is friendly and informal, and the young staff all speak English.

This is a neighborhood restaurant. Not surprisingly pizza plays a strong role, but don’t let this dissuade you from the pastas; both options are equally enticing. The classic Pizza Margherita comes on a thin foldable crust, resulting in a light pizza topped with a thin layer of flavorful tomato sauce and a light topping of creamy mozzarella. On the contrary, Pici with Calamari and Eggplant is rich and substantial. Thick, chewy pici (thick spaghetti) add body and heft, while meltingly tender strips of fried eggplant enrich a thin tomato sauce, creating a luxurious richness.

Many of the appetizers are perfect for sharing; get one for the table to share, and let that and pasta or pizza be the meal. Forego the typical sliced meats or the disappointing burrata and opt instead for the fried polenta topped with four different sauces (chicken liver, meat sauce, porcini, sautéed vegetables) or the Impepato di Cozze (Sauteed Mussels) which are small sautéed mussels in their natural saline broth.

Try to leave room for the housemade desserts. Tiramisu is a classic, creamy and sweet with a dusting of bitter cocoa and dose of coffee; but better still is the Torte al Cioccolato, a very thick, dense slice of rich chocolate torte, more truffle than cake; one doubts that any flour goes into its recipe. You don’t usually see desserts this rich served in portions this big, enjoy it! Savor it. It’s fantastic.

A short wine list of nearly all Tuscan wines, and a surprising number of wines by the glass. The restaurant also has its own wine made by a producer near San Gimignano. Young and fruity, it is fresh tasting and simple; it isn’t remarkable by any stretch, but at 10 Euro it makes a decent accompaniment to a convivial meal with friends. There are also a number of artisan beers available.

Signature Dishes: Pizza, Spaghetti alla Carettiere (Spaghetti with Garlic and Tomato)
Get It!: Pici con Calamari e Melanzane (Thick Spaghetti with Calamari and Eggplant), Torte al Cioccolato (Chocolate Cake)

Via Senese, 17, Firenze. 055 2298936. www.cottaapuntino.it. Closed Monday.
Via G. Biagi, 6/8r, Firenze. 055 6121937 www.cottaapuntino.it. Closed Monday.

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