Osteria dei Baroncelli, located on a tiny street off the Piazza della Signoria, is housed in a 13th century noble residence, once owned by the Baroncelli family. It is a perfect choice for dinner on this chilly mid-January evening in Florence, when a steady rain drizzles, creating puddles between the worn cobbles. Inside all is sunshine, created by walls the color of summer wheat and table linens the color of sunflowers, providing a feeling of warmth that is intensified by friendly service.
A bottle of local Chianti is in order as we dine on purely Tuscan dishes, starting with pappardelle with wild duck sauce and ravioli filled with ricotta, blanketed in a creamy spinach sauce with Pecorino cheese from Pienza. We are pleased to see spezzatino pepato on the menu, a quintessential Tuscan dish of beef slow-cooked in a robust red wine. My husband orders it without hesitation. It is told that Brunelleschi created this recipe this recipe for his workers, a dish that was left to cook all day in the terracotta ovens as they worked to create the tiles for the dome of Florence’s Cathedral. Whether true or folklore, I love the story and the plate is superb – I know this because my fork extends across our table more than once to sample the tender, spicy stew.
The restaurant can seat 300 diners, but the interior is divided into eight separate dining rooms, each one decorated and devoted to a famed Florentine artist – from Michelangelo to Caravaggio, Botticelli to Rafael. Between food and art, Osteria dei Baroncelli reminds its guests that Florence is a city of unlimited treasures.