“Do you know the difference between restaurant and trattoria?”
My wonderful B&B host Biagio instantly launched into an explanation, “a trattoria is owned by family. Local! Traditional Tuscan – is very delicious. Trattoria da Tito is one of the very best in Florence. Restaurant is just…restaurant.”
Antica Trattoria da Tito turned out to be about five doors down from my B&B on via San Gallo. It’s a quiet street, less than five minutes walk around the corner from the home of Michelangelo’s David and just over ten minutes from the city’s spectacular Duomo. It being so close, I figured perhaps Biagio was purely recommending the trattoria to help out his neighbours, and yet when I walk down around 8.45pm on a Tuesday evening there is a queue out of the door and a waiting list. Luckily it’s only a half an hour wait, so I grab a glass of red wine and wait my turn for a meal in what is quite clearly not a struggling business down a quiet Florentine street after all.
My wait over, I’m led to a table towards the back of this bustling restaurant, Hotel California acting as the soundtrack to the electric atmosphere. This is the kind of restaurant – or, forgive me – trattoria, where they explicitly say on their menus not to ask for your meat to be cooked more: “WE DON’T DO IT!!!” And don’t even think about asking for a cappuccino. This is true Italian authenticity, both in the food, the atmosphere and the service. Don’t mess with it. And why would you want to? The staff all look like they’re having ridiculous amounts of fun as they rush around serving with bright smiles, squeezing between each other at high speed, sharing quick jokes on the move and cheering raucously when one of their colleagues smashes a tray of glasses. They remember your name and they pull you the other side of the bar to do large shots of limoncello at the end of the night, before making you promise to return.
Smug with my choice to act on Biagio’s recommendation, I settled in to enjoy the buzz of laughing patrons at the tables around me, ordering half a litre of Chianti for a mere €6. An order of the tomato and basil bruschetta (€6.00) arrived shortly afterward, and I can confirm with confidence that it’s one of the most delicious bruschettas I’ve ever had. It was just so fresh. The perfect starter.
Next up was the wild boar pappardelle (€12.00), freshly made that day, as it is every day at Tito’s. It was as good as you would expect pasta to be in Italy, the simplicity of the dish delivered at high quality. The steaks and other mains such as traditional ossobuco being delivered to their tables looked amazing too, though I just can’t handle the amount of food Italians eat in one sitting, to my true despair. Which I guess just means I have to go back someday, as I promised. What a chore.
Via S. Gallo, 112, 50129 Firenze, Italy