Head For The Hills At Giglio Trattoria Fiorentina
Chef Manuelo Pintore, formerly of Bottega di Luca and Appia, is the every bit the laid-back genial Florentine chef-patron when he chuckles and says, “Yes, what we serve is based largely on what was, and still is, the food of Tuscany’s peasant class—simple dishes created from what rural folk found growing in the hills and mountains around them, earthy but nutritious and tasty: game like wild boar and duck, trout from mountain streams, beans and pulses, and lesser-known herbs, mushrooms and vegetables. The idea then, as it remains today, was to eat simply but eat well. Nothing got wasted either. Uneaten salsiccia sausages were re-purposed as a meaty sauce covering homemade pici pasta and yesterday’s bread became part of tomorrow’s panzanella,” he smiles.
Pintore is talking in the relaxed pale green banquette- and bar-lined confines of Giglio Trattoria Fiorentina, the restaurant he co-owns in Sathorn Soi 12. Meaning lily—a device of the Bourbons who once ruled Tuscany, Giglio offers an inviting space, warm and welcoming after weeks of enforced home dining. The walls sport a mistura of maps and pieces of art depicting the capital of his native duchy and the effect is elegantly simple and in good taste, just about the perfect description of Pintore’s cuisine, which he says “isn’t hung up on presentation but concentrates on flavour.”
The panzanella he mentions is a prime example. He is referring to the famous tangy Tuscan summer salad comprising soaked stale bread with chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumber and celery. A similar no-frills antipasti is ribolitta, a hearty Tuscan potage also made with old bread, vegetables, beans and black kale. Traditionally it was cooked to use up leftovers and so recipes varied from house to house. Pintore’s version is authentically rich but nicely cut through by the mild bitterness of the kale.
Primi piatti choices based on pasta and gnocchi combinations cover Tuscan stalwarts such as the aforementioned pici al ragu di salsiccia, or hand-rolled pici pasta with an unctuous sauce made from sausage meat and porcini mushrooms, and pappardelle al cinghiale, which is broad-cut ribbon pasta with a wild boar sauce. Both are satisfyingly rich and filling.
Secondi selections on the compact but balanced seasonal menu include tonno ubriaco, or pieces of baby tuna braised in red wine, and organic chicken in a sage butter sauce. These and other sizeable dishes like arista, which is a generous piece of succulent roasted pork rack accompanied by rosemary-roasted potatoes, and a classic sausage and bean stew called fagioli all’uccelletto, are complemented by a selection of healthy vegetable-driven contorni, or side dishes such as sauteed spinach and a refreshing tomato, onion and basil salad. Also be aware of the meatiest of all options, a 300-gram piece of 270-day grain-fed Australian rib-eye steak prepared al la bistecca Fiorentina. In fact, prices are very reasonable and so if you are venturing out in a group, order away and pick and share in the local fashion. It’s all good.
You might find room at something a premium after such a repast. If so, finish off with a coffee and shot of grappa to help with digestion. Alternatively, you have a choice between tiramisu and panna cotta for dessert. The tiramisu is a classic, heady with booze but lovely and light. Do try the panna cotta though, which is baked (al forno) to give it a nice twist. It sets you up for another great Italian tradition—the afternoon nap. So buon appetito or better still, as the locals in the high country simply say, mangia bene—eat well!
Giglio Trattoria Fiorentina
149 Sathorn Soi 12
Open daily. Lunch: 11am-3pm; dinner: 5pm-11pm
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