Enoteca Caffé Coquinarius

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You would never know that this bright, open restaurant was just steps from the Duomo, tucked away on a small side street. A far cry from the sidewalk buskers in front of the cathedral, this is a relaxed and friendly restaurant to enjoy a glass of wine and something to eat to go with it.

Wine is the focus, and the charming front room displays a full wall of bottles from the lengthy list. That list represents the greatest hits of Italy, featuring wines from small producers throughout Italy at very fair prices. This is an excellent place to try a radical Radikon wine, a white wine aged on the skin, for only 30 euros a bottle. Ten to twelve wines are also offered by the glass, mostly for 5 euros each.

Talk with the friendly owner, and he can tell you about the winemaker, the vineyard, the landscape where it is grown, how the wine was made – nearly anything you want to know. He loves wine and it shows. Best yet, he is eager to share without overwhelming or becoming pedantic. Express interest and he may give you a guide book to look up more information.

The large menu was designed expressly to go with wine. It features a lot of small snacks, salads, and carpaccios. There are a wealth of crostini (breads with toppings) and crostone (large toasts topped with meats or cheeses), as well as more traditional salumi and cheese plates. An appetizer platter for two features Eggplant Rotolini with provolone and sundried tomato, Stuffed Zucchini, Goat Cheese Crostini with Fig Jam, bresaola wrapped around a creamy herbed robbiola filling, a thick chick pea cake topped with lardo, and rich sliced chicken liver pate.

A level of detail shows these aren’t just your typical antipasti. A large antipasto of soprassata comes on homemade brioche with a side of white beans flecked with fragrant orange zest. The orange sparkles. With beans, brioche and fatty, rich soprassata, this appetizer could easily be lunch. Another appetizer of smoked duck breast is thinly sliced and served with balsamic glazed onions.

There are over a dozen main course salads and and at least half as many carpaccios which range from bresaola (cured beef) with grana and arugula, to a cod carpaccio to wild boar. About a dozen pastas round out the menu, many of which break from tradition. Tagliatelle come with rabbit, bacon and pumpkin puree. It takes a skillful hand to ensure that the delicate flavors of rabbit remain on the forefront, but they did. The pumpkin formed a slightly sweet backdrop and the whole dish was nicely offset by crisp salty bacon.

Signature Dish: Mixed Antipasti Plates, Carpaccio

mixed appetizers at coquinarius restaurant and wine bar in florence
Antipasti with chicken liver pate, stuffed zuchini, smoked beef with robbiola, goat cheese crositini, eggplant roulades and lardo

Get It!: One of the unique wines from their list

Via delle Oche, 11r, Florence. http://www.coquinarius.com, tel: +39 055 2302153. Closed Tuesday.

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