Sunday, July 22, 2007

Il Latini (Florence)

Given the good experience with Zàzà, we decided to try another one of the guidebook's (and concierge's) recommendations. We were pointed to Il Latini (Via del Palchetti 6r, off Via della Vigna Nuova, Near Piazza Santa Trínita), which seems to be a tourist favorite. We were told that it would be impossible to get in without a reservation, but we decided to try our luck. We were seated promptly without any problems, albeit in one of the back rooms that seemed to be an expansion for the restaurant. It didn't have the same feel as the other rooms (with the hams hanging all over the ceilings), but we were happy to have a table.

As soon as we sat down, our waiter asked if we would like to start with a sampling of appetizers. We said sure, bring it on. We were then treated to a variety of plates including proscuitto with melon, a caprese salad, crostini with chicken liver mousse, and a barley salad. The prosciutto with melon was excellent, especially since the cantaloupe was very fresh and sweet. The crostini with the chicken liver mousse was tasty as well, but the caprese salad and the barley salad were just okay. After we finished our appetizers, our waiter came back and tried to get us to just trust him to put together a sampler of pasta and a sampler of meat course for us. We still had not seen a menu all this time, so we had no idea what price range this restaurant fell in. We found out later that the waiters there try very hard not to let you see the menu. We finally convinced the waiter to give us a menu and we ordered a couple of pasta dishes, gnocchi with pesto sauce and ravioli with tomato sauce. The pasta course was very average unfortunately. The gnocchi was overcooked and was too soft, and the sauces were quite oily. We hoped that the meat course would be a lot better, but it was disappointing as well. We ordered grilled steak and roasted chicken. The steak was quite a large cut (meant for 2 people), and it was good steak but nothing too unique. The roasted chicken was very dry though. We were quite stuffed by now, but we decided to try their almond torte dessert, and it was pretty good. The best part of the meal though was when our waiter brought out some Moscato dessert wine for us on the house (there's nothing that makes a customer happier than free alcohol! :-)

Clientele was mostly tourists. No Q's, but you can expect friendly service (and most likely free dessert wine)! As for food, it was a bit of hit or miss - appetizers were pretty good but the entrees, especially the pasta dishes, were very so-so. So if you are looking for great Italian food, this restaurant probably won't meet your expectations. However, if you are just looking for a fun atmosphere with friendly service, Il Latini could be a good choice

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