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“Top notch food!”
Review of Essenziale

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Ranked #128 of 3,025 Restaurants in Florence
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$40 - US$75
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Restaurant details
Neighbourhood: Santo Spirito / San Frediano
Description: Essenziale, a project that is evolving, giving life to simple and essential food in an informal and convivial setting. Essenziale's "cucina" aims to revitalize the Italian and Tuscan tradition by creating dishes that can excite each guest with creative simplicity.
Reviewed 30 September 2017

I am a local Florentine now and always game to try the never-ending parade of new restaurants in town. Frankly I am not a great fan of Italian food, among western cuisine my vote goes to the French. Mostly because I like that my food has taken time to prepare and the combination of certain ingredients elevate the taste of the most mundane items. Essenziale is a pleasant surprise and honestly one of the best Italian restaurants I have ever been to. Granted it is not your typical Italian cuisine but i have eaten at many Michelin star restaurants the world over and this place deserves a Michelin star for sure!
Let's get the bad out of the way first. The place itself is brand new but I did not care for the cold grey decor. It could certainly do with a little warmth by way of table settings, flowers, greenery etc. just for a pop of colour. I wish they had gone for a wood floor, but oh well! At least the bathroom is nice and clean.
It's a very small restaurant with a strange 3 level menu. They have a tasting menu served on high top seating, a 5 course menu served on the main floor and an 8 course menu served at 4 tables on top of the stairs close to the kitchen.
We really wanted to go for the 8 course but it was sold out so we opted for the 5 course, which was just as well as there was so much food. I also noticed, when we got there, that most of the crowd on the 5 course main floor were Europeans and Americans whereas the 8 course comprised of only Italians. Upon reading the reviews I noticed that most of the negative reviews were by Italians. Perhaps because it was a modified version of Toscana food, too adventurous for those seeking a classical Florentine experience.
We started off with an amuse bouche made of lentils which set the tone. The first course was a local poached egg on a piece of blackened bread served with some artichoke and herring caviar and was bursting with flavour! The egg tasted like it did when I was a child growing up in India, in a totally organic world and the herring roe was perfect. I just returned from Russia on a vacation where I had caviar 3 times a day so I really appreciated this one even more! And before I forget, the bread basket was irresistible!
Then came the Oats with pumpkin, citrus and cheese. Who knew oats could taste so glorious! Followed by the Roman pasta dish Cacio Pepe. This was not my fav but hubby loved it and had mine and his, so nothing against the dish itself at all. Then a stylized version of Chicken Parm, a tad too salty for me, otherwise perfect. There were also a couple of sorbets served alongside and in between the courses to cleanse your palate and a little eggplant something on the side too. One was a solid sorbet served on a bed of salt which was a first for me, and the second was a more conventional sorbet served in a glass. All of it delicious and made with TLC. Dessert was a warm apple pie and ice cream. The entire meal was basically high-end comfort food. It left me satisfied and happy, which is more than I can say for my birthday meal last year at another well known Michelin restaurant (check out my review).
The service was OK by European standards but after living a lifetime in Orange County, California and husband owning one of the top Italian restaurants there, you will forgive me if I find the service lacking elsewhere.
The young chef Simone Cipriani, came out to greet my husband Nik, having heard of his legendary restaurant in Dana Point, CA, which was really very nice of him. I had a great birthday dinner and I cannot recommend this place enough. You can be sure I will be returning again and again with all my friends!

    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank bengal-tiger
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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27 - 31 of 246 reviews

Reviewed 27 September 2017 via mobile

If you are looking for something outside the normal Italian restaurant experience, then this is your place. If you are expecting a perfect meal then this is not your place. It's impossible to experiment at the level at this restaurant attempts and not have some misses. That being said, the hits far outweighed the misses.

We opted for the Resalio tasting menu, there wasn't a great deal of difference between the al la carte and the tasting menu. But there was a great deal of difference between the offerings. And it felt like every dish was an modern experiment. Because the menu likely changes regularly, I won't comment on specific dishes, but say that some were fantastic.

The service and people were extremely enthusiastic. It felt like everybody was an owner and really cared about what was happening. Environment is modern, but may be a bit too brightly lit.

Music was important and apparently the chefs decide the playlist. From Bob Dylan to The Smiths, it was as eclectic as the food.

Bottom line, go and check this place out!

1  Thank JaBarton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 September 2017 via mobile

The place is nice, I would say a bit cold for my taste in terms of ambiance, few tables, great service, very nice and organized staff.
The menu is small and the list of wines is good. We had The shrimps that were literally 4 in a cream sauce and they were ok but a bit expensive.(22€). The first was ok but lacked substance (22€) and the piccione was displayed on a stick with the actual bird's legs at the end, also very small plate. They give you complimentary appetizers that are ok a bit weird as they have sweet and salt mixed, desserts are complex but probably the best part.
I would not take kids to this restaurant.
Easy to park.

Thank Justsaying123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 September 2017 via mobile

My husband and I came here on the last night of our honeymoon and absolutely loved it. We shared a 3 and 5 course tasting menu and couldn't find a dish we didn't like. The food was so creative, beautifully displayed with pops of flavor and surprises. It was a perfect capstone of a week of eating and a refreshing change from the more standard Tuscan cuisine of pasta, charcuterie and steak. The service was also excellent - prompt, attentive and on point. Highly recommend.

Thank kibbles12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2017

Excellent food, friendly staff and great wine recommendations. The restaurant is not overly formal so great place to dine and catch up with friends after a long day of sight seeing. They serve an excellent barrel cured Trebbiano. Not a wine varietal I appreciate but the one recommended was fabulous. Highly recommend!!

    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank wenrodatus
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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