Category Archives: Regional food

Review: Ristorante Natalino in Florence, Italy

Ristorante Natalino in Florence, Italy

Ristorante Natalino in Florence, Italy

Vino Bianco

Vino Bianco

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Review: Il Cantinone in Florence, Italy

Il Cantinone

Il Cantinone, street view

Il Cantinone in Florence, Italy

Il Cantinone

Artichoke Flan

Artichoke Flan


Ciao! I am back from two wonderful weeks in Italy, whereupon I had the chance to savor a delightful variety of Italian food from both the Tuscany and Lombardy regions. We traveled through Florence, Fiesole, Siena, Milan and also to the northern lake region, each stop giving us a chance to try local specialties – and no doubt come home about ten pounds heavier for the experience (I refuse to even look at a scale for a good two weeks.) I will be trying my best to review each notable stop along the way, today beginning with Il Cantinone.


Il Cantinone is located in the Oltrarno district of Florence, across the Arno river and not too far from the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge and high-cost shopping district. Yet it’s just far enough off the beaten track that it tends to be passed over by many tourists, who must be afraid to descend the stairs to this cellar-level restaurant which does little to announce its presence from the street, save a small rooster sign and posted menu. Yet those who take the plunge (and mind the low ceilings) and will find a delightfully cozy restaurant serving authentic, seasonal Tuscan food. We had discovered Il Cantinone on a previous visit to Florence in 2006 and were pleased to find little had changed there in five year’s time.


The menu at Il Cantinone is fairly simple, emphasizing meats, cheeses, pastas, various styles of crostini and seasonal vegetables. We chose to begin with a simple bottle of house red wine and two antipasti: artichoke flan with shaved cheese (Sformatino di carciofi su un letto di foglie di parmigiano), and a crostone with tomato and pecorino cheese (Crostone con pomodoro e pecorino). Both were truly excellent. The flan was richly flavored yet delicate in texture, delightfully set off by the salty hard cheese. The crostini was one large slice of Tuscan bread, topped with cheese and very ripe tomatoes and served with arugula. Delicious. Tuscan bread on its own is not much to write home about, generally very dry and flavorless, but it makes for the perfect bread for wonderful grilled crostini.

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(Almost) Italy-bound

Bistek Florentine, as authentically prepared in Florence, Italy

Bistek Florentine in Florence

Although I have a few more reviews I’m hoping to get posted before then, in two days I’m off for two weeks in Italy. Of course, enjoying the food there is one of my top priorities (weight loss goals for the year be damned!) I will be spending most of the first week in Florence, which I haven’t visited since 2006. Then spending a few days for the first time in Siena before most of the second week in Milan, another city I’ve never been before (besides Florence, I’ve only ever been to Venice and Rome in Italy). So this blog will likely be silent until toward the end of June, when I promise to return with lots of detailed dining reports from these three cities.

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My Philadelphia Dining Guide

Duck fat french fries at Village Whiskey in Philadelphia

Duck fat french fries at Village Whiskey

Food in Philadelphia is about far more than cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. The city is a vibrant scene for top chefs (even some Iron Chefs!), hot BYOBs, gourmet food markets, great gastropubs and more. In my Guide to Dining Out in Philadelphia you’ll find lots of useful information including my picks for some of the city’s best restaurants, the latest blog headlines from some of Philly’s best food blogs, as well as links to many city guides. Whether you’re looking for great lunch deals, romantic locations, top sushi or seafood restaurants, you’ll be sure to find what you need to know. You can also cast your vote in several polls and surveys about Philadelphia’s finest offerings.

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Need Great Italian Recipes? Check out my Top 10 List of Italian Cookbooks

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