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Locale Firenze: An Otherworldly Dining Experience In Florence

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By Lucy Cocoran on 5th December 2023

As you walk down the pathway towards Locale Firenze, you will most likely be greeted with a queue. Synonymous with something worth waiting for, passersby find themselves compelled to stop and assess the gathering crowd, before being drawn through the door.

Housed in Palazzo Concini — a historic building with origins dating back to the 1200s — there is an undeniable sense of old-world allure within the venue's walls. Beneath the bar’s floors, you can visit the original cellar (which now holds a selection of the restaurant’s  wine), and admire several artefacts which date back to the early 1700s. Among them, the ancient fireplace and oven, still clearly displaying the original Order of the Knights of Santo Stefano symbol, which was historically stamped on bread before baking. 

The Bar

Above ground, the energy is electric. Dimly-lit with an enchantingly sultry aesthetic, the bar’s interiors are dark and moody . In the summertime, one waiter  recalls how the roof opens up completely, inviting the gentle breeze of the night air to envelop guests, while the light of the stars dance on their wine glasses. 

In the colder months the glass ceiling is kept closed, drawing your eyes to the biggest visual spectacle in the room — the backlit bar. Neatly arranged bottles of liquor are seemingly never ending, filling shelves which almost touch the ceiling. With them, bartenders shake and stir a range of craft vermouths, homemade liqueurs and zingy gins transforming them into punchy cocktails.

The team of Locale Firenze are always innovating, dreaming up new ways to champion fresh Tuscan produce in both the restaurant and bar menu.  Creativity knows no bounds here, meaning recipe changes are frequent and fluctuate with the seasons. These innovations are increasingly being recognised as some of the best in the business,  securing the team a spot on the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2022.

Taking a seat at or opposite the bar, you can sample any tasting notes that take your fancy from the cocktail menu. The signature Nocciolo packs an alcoholic punch, with fruit stone liqueur, rum, scotch and sherry — it’s  a true masterclass in mixology. The Foglia is equally unmissable, balancing gin and hemp with mint and basil for a cutting yet refreshing tipple. Of course, inform the bartender of your preferences and they’ll gladly make anything: whether it be something bespoke or a tried-and-tested  classic. 

If a nightcap is all you seek, you might choose to end your journey here, but for those looking to embark on an unforgettable culinary expedition, the restaurant’s degustation menu is nothing short of exquisite. 

The Restaurant

Executive Chef, Simone Caponnetto,  has set a high bar in the Locale Firenze kitchen, proudly heralding the expansive flavour profiles of Tuscan produce. Having worked in kitchens around the world, his style of cooking pays homage to his Florentine roots, with a distinctly global flair. 

Chef Caponnetto’s goal is to make Locale Firenze entirely sustainable:  a dream which is already in motion with the restaurant’s dedicated garden. Housing poultry, fruits, vegetables and flowers, his team spends equal amounts of time both here and in the kitchen, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of their ingredients. It is this level of meticulousness and care which is reflected not only in the food, but in the presentation of the entire dining experience. 

Mains

Bread knives are sharpened with dramatic flair, before a fresh loaf is carved into slices before you. Mussels are cooked to perfection in the restaurant's own spicy butter,  followed by paper thin wafers which have been artistically arranged, held together with a burnt onion and eggplant salsa. 

At Locale Firenze, you cannot rely on one sense to guide your expectations, as dishes may not be exactly how they appear. Take the miniature balls of burrata which have been artfully created from the milk and pulp of pine nuts rather than cow's milk — a surprising yet delicious twist on an Italian classic. 

Depending on your chosen menu, the culinary journey can continue on for several more dishes. I sampled perfectly cured salmon slices,  arranged in a striking rose formation, encased in flavour-filled herb oils. Vibrant green broccoli paired  perfectly with flying-saucer pasta — a rare shape which expertly retains the flavours of the cedar and candied chilli pepper sauce. 

Drinks

Between each course, a sommelier arrives at the table to expertly match a wine to each dish, carefully introducing each bottle  with a thoughtful origin story and flavour breakdown. A meat-lead ravioli dish is paired with a Montepepe Rosso Special Reserve red, produced only in vintages, whilst  a 2022 Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler Riesling is magnificent with seafood. 

Desserts

Following the savoury sensations, the evening begins drawing to a close, as signalled by the arrival of a 2013 Vin Santo del Chianti dessert wine. The final few courses are theatrically presented , arriving in a glass-encased tower which is placed on the table. Inside lies an assortment of sweets on miniature pedestals —a visual spectacle which commands attention. . Then, sugar-encrusted jelly cubes, miniature macarons and decadent chocolate slices are popped into the mouth one-by-one, each offering their own saccharine flavour. 

With a final flourish, liquid nitrogen is added to a pot, causing a cloud of smoke to appear. Two shards of sugar are plucked from the pot as if by magic, before dissolving in your mouth in a sugar-filled instant — the perfect ending  to a truly remarkable dining experience. 

While Local Firenze may adopt a ‘sky is the limit’ mentality in the bar and kitchen, its humble love of authentic Italian cuisine  keeps it incredibly grounded. Quite literally rooted in Florentine history, there is nowhere better to experience a taste of old world opulence with an innovative twist.  

Address: Via delle Seggiole, 12r, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy

Bookings here.

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