Alas, it's time for the last meal I had in Florence. We had made arrangements to eat at Cavolo Nero, another inconspicuous neighborhood-looking restaurant on the south side of the river. My dad had been on his previous trips and had good experiences. Cavolo Nero has a more intimate vibe, with soft lighting accompanying a slightly more modernized menu. It would be a good place to impress a date while soaking in the romantic "we're in Italy!!" atmosphere.
We started with this salad of raw porcinis on a pretty wooden board. Nothing complicated here, just the wonderful simplicity of delicious porcini mushrooms.
A souffle-like custard of cauliflower with a rich, salty, Parmigiano sauce.
This was quite an interesting dish - kind of like a white eggplant parm, minus the breadcrumbs. The grilled pieces of eggplant had a thick, almost meaty texture, but were slightly undercooked for my taste.
They didn't have any white truffles on hand, but they did have some pretty good black ones. The pasta was cooked perfectly. This had a wonderful fragrance, but not quite the punch of the white truffles we'd gotten used to.
Freshly-made, hefty ravioli with a rich filling of pork and ricotta - hard to go wrong. The standard butter/sage sauce was cut with a few blueberries, a subtle but nice twist.
None of us are generally fans of baked pasta, but this turned out to be a surprise favorite at the table. The baking lent a perfect mix of textures to the giant penne - chewy in some parts and crisp in others. Trippa alla fiorentina, as it turns out, is an ideal pasta sauce/topping. The tripe was delicious, and the lightness of the tomato sauce allowed the penne to really stand on its own.
We went pretty pasta-heavy this meal as usual, but wanted to try at least one of the secondi. We settled on this sea bass. The sauce had a wonderful aroma of leeks, and the meat was delicate and flaky. A great piece of fish all around.
We finished off with this warm pear tart. Nicely cooked through, not too sweet, with just a thin layer of pastry. Very good.
Cavolo Nero is a perfect example of the stellar quality one can find throughout Florence. There are little neighborhood restaurants everywhere serving up superb pastas, and just a high level of food in general. I know there must be tons of places that none of us have even heard about. Oh, the joy of eating in Italy.
Next up is Rome, where we returned to some of the places I went to on my first trip to Italy. Stay tuned...