Note: This article is from our April 2017 trip to Italy. We’re currently back in Italy touring Piedmont and Liguria with an Italian wine expert, so be sure to follow on Instagram so you don’t miss out on any of our exclusive experiences and sign up for our email list for upcoming travel giveaways.
Legendary Chef Fabio Picchi presides over a magical little corner of Florence, with four restaurants on the same block: Ristorante Cibrèo and Trattoria Cibrèo sharing the same kitchen, Cafe Cibrèo immediately across the street, and his newest restaurant, Cibleo, a few doors down.
Ristorante Cibrèo has served legendary Tuscan cuisine since 1979, and this Florence institution is one of our favorite restaurants in the world. You may have seen Chef Picchi’s guest appearance on Culinary Renaissance with Giada De Laurentiis, and Ina Garten was inspired by a dish she had at Ristorante Cibrèo leading her to create her Herb Roasted Fish in Make it Ahead.
Ristorante Cibrèo’s menu consists of elegantly presented dishes with comfort food roots (e.g. a beef stew like Chef Picchi’s mother would make) and changes with the seasons. One of the most unique things about Ristorante Cibrèo is that one of the managers will pull up a chair, take a seat at your table, and recite the day’s menu, taking as much time as you need to select your first and second courses and dessert. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the options or provide further details on a specific dish. You select all of your courses up front, so for the rest of the evening you can sit back and enjoy.
While this is a high-end restaurant, be sure to come hungry, as portion sizes are generous and the appetizers consist of an entire spread of Tuscan delicacies like tripe salad, fava beans and pecorino, chicken liver pate on crostino, soppressata, dried plum tomatoes, yogurt pudding with turmeric, ricotta flan with parmigiano, and various seasonal delights. If you’re lucky, you might run into Chef Picchi making his rounds. He came over to our table, tore off a piece of crusty bread and scooped a generous heap of his Scordiglia (a savory almond spread similar in texture to hummus), handed it to Sarah and instructed us to use it generously, because “it’s not Nutella.”
The first course usually has several soup options. Previously, we had our favorite yellow bell pepper soup — a Cibrèo classic. On this visit, we had a fish stew and Chef Picchi’s classic meat ragu with a soft ricotta and potato cake. We loved it so much we asked Christina, the manager to send us the recipe.
Our second courses included the beef stew mentioned above, as well as a roasted leg of lamb, off the bone, and rolled with artichoke, sage, rosemary, garlic and black pepper, served with green peas and prosciutto.
Whatever you do, be sure to leave room for dessert! We tried the cheese cake with bitter orange marmalade, flourless chocolate cake, and a beautiful raspberry tart piped with bavarian cream.
If a trip to Florence isn’t in your immediate future, you need to get Chef Picchi’s books ASAP. Our personal favorite is his newest book, Papale Papale, which is available as a Kindle download in English. We brought home two signed copies. His previous book is also fascinating (and entertaining!). Ristorante Cibrèo is closed on Mondays, so you’ll want to plan ahead. We recommend making a reservation. You can have your hotel call for you if you like.
Thank you to Chef Picchi and Ristorante Cibrèo for hosting us for our second visit to such a special restaurant. We can’t wait to return!