Upon arriving in Florence, my friend Axel told me about this small restaurant which I had to go to. He said that they had the best food, so good that even Kylie Kwong had written an enthusiastic report about it (she went three times in the week she was here on holiday) and of course I had to check it out.
Mario’s is only a short stroll from the city centre but is hidden on a small quiet street. When you get close however, you will notice a line of people standing outside. Its opening hours are lunch times only, from 11am – 3pm which explains why it is always full. The front window is lined with reviews saying that is it the best place to eat in Florence, along with glowing awards from as early as the 90’s until present on display.
The restaurant itself is quite small; when you enter there is a great familial atmosphere from the busyness and crowd. Tables are packed really close together and are shared with the public. Today we are seated with two Italians travelling from Sienna, an air hostess and pizza chef who make for great company and conversation throughout our meal. The menu is hand written daily with specials pending on produce and is read out to us by the waitress. Dishes are then crossed off as items run out.
Pasta with tomato sauce – €5
My first course is a simple pasta with tomato sauce. Rich and tomatoey, it is covered in a lot of sauce which is exactly what I like. The pasta is made fresh and small sprinkles of cheese on top bring the whole dish together. Simple and delicious.
Tripe, Florentine style – €5.50
I decide to be adventurous with my second course and see an item on the menu which is made in Florentine style, so I order that. I’ve only ever had tripe before Chinese style at Yum Cha, but the Italians do a great version of tripe. Here, it is covered in a strong tomato taste with cheese on top again. Soft and chewy, it goes down easily and I find it not as rubbery as how the Chinese cook it. I quite like the dish but personally find it a bit big or too much tripe in one go – I recommend you share this dish.
Roast pork (€7.50) with additional side of potato chips (€2.50)
My friend orders the roast pork as her main along with some chunky chips. The pork looks quite plain as there isn’t any accompanying sauce or gravy on the plate. When you eat it however, you realise why. The pork is very soft and tender and is seasoned so well that it doesn’t really need any sauce. It is a very juicy and simple dish.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with my meal at Mario’s. All the food I’ve had in Italy has been extremely delicious but this restaurant has been the most affordable in terms of value so far. Not to mention the great atmosphere and fresh food. It’s hard to compare Mario’s with the other restaurants since I’ve only tried a few dishes, but if you’re in Florence looking for affordable tasty food, this is the place to go! But expect to wait for a table – we waited 15 minutes which wasn’t too bad but when we left I heard a customer that had just arrived that they would have to wait for an hour, ouch!
Fiaschetteria – Trattoria Mario
Via Rosina 2, Florence
Ph: 0039 055 299 1397