by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
August 29, 2005
Instead, we wander down Via Faenza and eventually into Trattoria Alliense. It's owned by an Italian Canadian who moved to Florence about 10 years ago and founded this restaurant. The menu isn’t that imaginative, but the food is superb. The house wine, a Tuscan red, is served in ceramic pitchers and, while not great, goes down easily and is a good bargain. The service from everyone is personal and efficient. The ambience, especially in the front room, where the owner generally hangs out, is warm and welcoming. We decide later it was definitely our favorite restaurant in Italy.
While we are there, we help a couple of young Japanese women figure out what they might like off the menu, argue with a Danish woman whose husky voice reminds me why I stopped smoking, discuss the failings of northern Florida with a woman from Orlando, and defend our Florida position with a family from Jacksonville, Florida, who are very aggressive in singing the praises of their state. It appears that the owner, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, seats foreigners in the front room and locals in the back room, which works out well for all. As we depart and are making our goodbyes, he thanks Tom and me for the free entertainment.
We had so much fun the first time, we return two nights later. Once again, we enjoy both the food and the company. We meet a cross-cultural family from Oregon. He's French Basque, she's American, kind of a stereotypical do-gooder, but much more open-minded. They met in Togo and have two beautiful daughters. We also meet an architectural student from Washington University in St. Louis returning from a field trip to Barcelona. The conversation is scintillating (I think), especially since I own property in Oregon and recently spent a week in Barcelona.
We enjoy the house Chianti so much, we almost wait too long to order. We start with an antipasto platter that is well presented and well prepared. Tom has a single huge pork chop, which he announces is the best pork chop he's ever eaten, this from a Midwestern meat-and-potatoes guy who is a pork chop aficionado. I have a scrumptious grilled veal steak, a dish almost never found outside of France and Italy. Both meats are accompanied by homemade tagliatelle pasta with a sauce directly imported from heaven. Our table neighbors from Oregon have a grilled fish dish that they say is exceptional. We think about trying the desserts, but decide we’d rather have a gelato from a nearby shop.
In summary, this is the kind of place that people imagine discovering on their own. We were lucky to actually find it.
From journal Fabulous, Fantastic Florence