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trattoria coco lezzone

June 8, 2011

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i had imagined eating there before i made my travel plans. Trattoria Coco Lezzone appears right at the start of one of my favorite food books, ‘beaneaters & bread soup‘ by lori de mori and jason lowe (owners of the towpath in london; jason is one of my photo heroes). and it always sounded so damn good to me – the food, oh yes … but also the people behind this florentine restaurant and the vibe that comes through in the words and photographs in this book. you can’t help but feel the passion and dedication of the owner, gianluca paoli. and when i visited last month, gianluca was there chatting with customers and serving lunch, along with his mother and his wife and the rest of the staff.   that dedication certainly comes through in person. it was a lunch that left a huge impression on me, so much so that i left the restaurant in a happy daze, overwhelmed by the experience and even now as i write this, i have a hard time describing it and how much i enjoyed it.

i like what lori de mori writes in ‘beaneaters’ about the impression Coco Lezzone gives:

“morning light streams through the windows. ceiling fans whir overhead. the place has the unpretentious appeal of certain sturdy, wide-hipped women – the sort who wear sensible shoes and whose gentle, open faces make you want to lay your head in their laps like a child. utility and sensibility are on common ground here, and the effect is undeniably lovely.”

it’s so true. it’s not fussy, or fancy, and it doesn’t feel slick or hip. but the food was insanely good. farfalle with fresh peas (in season when i visited and only on the menu for a short time, shucked that morning i’m sure). and then arista di maiale, the roast pork loin whose recipe appears in the book. on the side, a dish of the white beans that are so important in florentine (and tuscan) cooking, dressed simply with good extra virgin olive oil, salt, and cracked black pepper. this will sound crazy, but those beans rendered me speechless. they were perfect. everything was, really.

i had a strangely emotional reaction to my meal here. partially because i couldn’t believe i was actually eating there, that i had the good fortune to be in florence and to experience something like this. but also because there is a sense of family here, of history, of pride. i was really in awe.

needless to say, if you are ever in florence, go here. bring cash (no cards), and order the beans. you won’t forget it.

  1. victoria permalink
    June 8, 2011 9:32 pm

    Brian, this post made me emotional! Beautiful description of what sounds like a wonderful experience.

  2. June 8, 2011 9:40 pm

    I got a very similar experience at Ristorante Da Danilo in Modena (Reggio Emilia), the food was so good I couldn’t believe it.

  3. June 9, 2011 6:18 am

    That sounds delicious Brian… We really need to go Italy with Jolayne!

  4. June 9, 2011 6:28 am

    I really like the menu photo!

  5. June 9, 2011 10:13 am

    I came upon this place with my family a few years ago and keep reading about it on blogs ever since. We took a day trip to Florence which was quite stressful with 13 people of different ages and ideas of holidays! We darted down a side street and found this restaurant. The food was delicious, the staff were so friendly – charming my 1 year old cousin! They also made no fuss about my vegan sister who was also not eating wheat and made a dish for her. It was a highlight of our holiday and I am always glad to read about it!

  6. June 9, 2011 1:33 pm

    Rich photos.
    Savoureux !

  7. sueysong permalink
    June 9, 2011 2:20 pm

    great photos and writing!
    and for speaking of Italy, family and food… i recommend you to see movie ‘i am love’ directed by Luca Guadagnino if you haven’t seen it yet.

  8. June 9, 2011 3:22 pm

    got introduced to tuscan cooking working at La Cuccina (for Marco Canora in his pre-Craft/IronChef days, great guy) on the “Vineyard about 10 years ago. love it. going to go have a plate of beans right now! photos are killing me brian! J

  9. June 10, 2011 2:46 pm

    Sounds just perfect!
    I actually spent four hours in Florence yesterday. It was not planned, so I had not done any research on were to eat. Wish I had known about this place.

  10. June 11, 2011 2:48 am

    I really need to taste what really good olive oil + the freshest ingredients + authenticity is like. Nice words you used to describe this experience.

  11. June 13, 2011 11:19 am

    I’ve been really enjoying your Italy posts. My brother and I are spending the Summer in Europe. After our trip to Spain next week we are headed to Italy & Sicily for 10 days with stop 1 in Florence. This just got added as a stop for lunch on Tuesday. Thanks!!!!


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