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It was the final night of my weeklong trip to Italy. I had eaten enough pasta to make the gluten-free among us truly afraid. Readers of “Wine Spectator” would give me a score of 100 points for the glasses I sniffed, swirled and sipped.While I quite enjoyed all the gluttony, consecutive days of wine-tasting and carbo-loading had left me a little bloated and ready for a good night’s rest.
There was also the issue of my flight back to LAX from Florence — on KLM via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol: It was scheduled for 6:30 a.m., meaning I had to check out of my room at 4 a.m.
The thought occurred to me to skip our characteristically Italian late (and long) dinner scheduled that night in favor of fasting and sleeping.
But, anxiety be damned, the dinner reservation was too alluring. Simone Amorico, CEO of luxury tour operator Access Italy and an arbiter of good taste, had booked my group at La Bottega del Buon Caffe, a Michelin-starred establishment owned by the folks behind Borgo Santo Pietro, a high-end hotel concept set on a lush organic farm in Tuscany.
The restaurant’s interior of exposed brick, textured walls, natural materials and neutral colors recalls the medieval cobblestoned towns of Tuscany but with some welcome touches of modernity — namely, the exposed kitchen where the jovial chefs can interact with diners.
The simple decor also helps spotlight the food. Seventy percent of the restaurant’s ingredients come from the farm at Borgo Santo Pietro, and as such, the focus is on the vibrant produce starring in each dish.
Israeli chef Erez Ohayon welcomed us after we sat down, and multiple staff attended to our needs, but they did it with graceful ease. La Bottega del Buon Caffe is out to prove that it’s possible to be a Michelin darling without being stuffy.
That sense of levity is reflected in the food, from the introductory parmesan grissini that dramatically spilled out of a small vase like cheesy pampas grass to the final beverage of our white-wine tasting menu: a homemade kombucha.
Throughout the meal, my vegetarian menu stood up to its omnivorous counterpart. One of my favorite dishes was the risotto. Fluffy and comforting, it seemed to puff out of the bowl that was made expressly to house it. But, like everything else at La Bottega del Buon Caffe, it was artful and fun: A pattern of shapes and colors — made of simple ingredients such as radishes and fennel — it could have passed as a painting.
Clusters of magenta balls appeared to be caviar eggs, but they were made from tapioca. A small but delightful touch among many, it kept the focus on the meal and the moment. That night, against all odds, leaving Florence was far from my mind.
The DetailsLa Bottega del Buon Caffewww.borgointhecity.com