Echoes of the past… An ancient road, left behind by the Romans? The Etruscans? How many individuals have tread across these timeless paving stones that make up the flooring of this 14th century structure? For the past eight decades, these worn stones have been polished to a warm patina by the tread of diners at the Buca di San Francesco. Opened by Mario De Felippis’ father-in-law, Buca di San Francesco is now owned and managed by Mario, who is proud to announce that they have been in business for over 80 years.
Upon entering, I am drawn through arches from one intimate dining room to another, each one with walls that are frescoed and softly lit, inviting one to linger at a table and sample the traditional Tuscan cuisine that has made this such a popular place. As we sit and sip their house wine, the rooms quickly fill with locals who know good food better than any of us.
The tables are set simply, graced with rustic table linens calling to mind a farmhouse kitchen. The menu is extensive and the offerings are pure homemade goodness – the kind of fare Nonna would have made for a Sunday lunch. The heart and soul of this restaurant, Mario moves swiftly from table to table, and I am amazed by his energy. Is it fueled by three espressos, his natural good will or simply his passion for what he does? Perhaps all three. Running the restaurant is a family affair; son, Davide, is one of the chefs in the kitchen and his daughter is waiting tables. Like her father, Barbara ensures that each diner feels welcome and leaves satisfied.
Pampered first with Pappa al Pomodoro, we move with ease from mixed antipasti to a sampling of Bringoli fatti in casa condite con le briciole, homemade noodles with a sprinkling of crunchy, garlicky breadcrumbs. Good is better when it is pretty, and these are garnished with one green and one white heart-shaped spinach ravioli. Everything that comes to our table is prepared with care and a bow to the time-honored cuisine of Tuscany. Bravi!