Ricotta and Spinach pasta roll with tomato sauce at the boutique della pasta fresca restaurant in florence

Boutique della Pasta Fresca

The name says it all. This is the boutique for fresh pasta, a humble working pastaficcio (pasta shop) which turned extra space in the storefront into a quick-service restaurant. A counter still sells fresh and filled pasta to take home, while a few small tables fill the space.

Locals flock here, squeezing in to fill every seat, sitting alongside strangers, or adding a stool to the end of the counter. Tables turn quickly, it’s bustling and chaotic, and service while efficient is going to hustle you in and out as quickly as possible. Manual workers on their lunch break sit alongside neighborhood moms pushing strollers and college students eating on a budget. It is a slice of the neighborhood, and  an inexpensive working lunch. You won’t find a better deal in town.

Sit down, order one of the daily pastas off the chalk board menu, a carafe of water arrives at the table. A hairnet clad waitress drops off a plate with crostini while you wait, dry unsalted Tuscan bread topped with the classic Tuscan chicken liver pate for instance. Soon your pasta arrives. The pasta is wonderful. The sauces, less so. But you can’t complain with the 5 euro price which includes your crostini and carafe of water — and does not come with added cover charge, as is so often the case in Italy.

Pasta is expertly executed, and comes with a daily assortment of sauces; there is always Olio e Limone (Olive Oil and Lemon), Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) or Pomodoro (Tomato) but there are also other choices which may be Roman style Tonnarelli alla Carbonara (thick round noodles with egg and bacon) or a modern whole wheat pasta with zucchini “pesto.” Sadly the sauces aren’t up to the same standard as the pasta. Carbonara lacked the needed peppery kick, while a recent Cacio e Pepe had an overdose of salt.

Filled pastas are a better bet. Ravioli al Tartufo (Truffle Ravioli), Tortellini con Ricotta e Spinaci (Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli), Ravioli con Carciofi e Taleggio (Taleggio and Artichoke Ravioli) or a thick Rotolo (roll) with ricotta and spinach where the pure and delicate creaminess of the Rotolo takes first position.

Homemade desserts are simple cafeteria style fair, small foil tins of Chocolate Mousse or Crème Caramel or a slice of Ricotta Tart, a simple cheesecake which lacks the overindulgent richness of its American counterpart. This is simple Italian cooking, where Pasta is king.

Signature Dish: Fresh Pasta
Get It!: Rotolo di Ricotto e Spinaci (Spinach and Ricotta Roll)

Via Domenico Cirillo 2c, Florence. tel: +39 055 578087. Closed Sunday. Lunch only.

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