Osteria Personale is the Best Restaurant in Florence
Osteria Personale is a visionary masterpiece. The owner Matteo Fantini is a former veterinarian turned brilliant chef and mad scientist that has prolifically pushed culinary taste, texture and creativity to an unchartered territory of innovative deliciousness. Florence is home to many amazing restaurants that cook traditional Italian food, but that’s not what you’ll find here. The affable Mateo has taken traditional dishes and reimagined them in smart and inventive ways. In fact, he does not even serve pasta!
Personale has a very comfortable and intimate setting further enhanced by a seductive jazz soundtrack that creates an inviting ambiance. Matteo, himself, warmly greets you at the door. The restaurant only seats 28 and was virtually packed on a rainy Friday night. This profoundly visionary menu is so complex, yet so simple with only 15 dishes to order from. It’s impossible not to get excited after reading the menu.
The journey began with a vibrantly vivid Carrot “Soup” sprinkled with miniature morsels of herring. While it was called a soup, it was far lighter than your typical carrot soup. Any lighter and it might have just floated away. It was adeptly fine and silky smooth, reminding us of Scarpetta’s velvet like polenta in its delicate consistency.
The show really started when Mateo’s brilliant take on burrata graced our table. His Burrata Cheese with Tomato Sorbet, Olive Crumble, Peas and Crispy Rocket was by far the best burrata we have ever had. Two beautiful scoops of this soft cheese lay atop a celestial olive crumble. The magnificent olive crumble added such a beautiful level of oral depth and texture to the phenomenal cheese. It was akin to cookie crumbles on a sundae or Bacos on a salad that adds a glorious and much needed crunch. The mound of tomato sorbet atop the olive crumble was original, tasteful and refreshing. No crumb was left behind on this epic dish.
So if you think your experienced gourmet mouth has tried everything out there, get ready for his take on mollusk. His Calamari with Potato and Lemon Cream, Agretti Parsley Oil and Capers was a new flavor combination for us. The Calamari was supple, fresh and seductively enveloped by a buoyantly light cream. The cream contained such a harmonious balance of both potato and lemon that is a brand new experience for your gluttonous taste buds. This sexy dish is so stunning that you are reluctant to disturb it with your spoon.
The next astonishing dish to be bestowed upon us was the Steak Tartar with Asparagus Ice Cream and Sweet Garlic Cream. While we are both not huge fans of steak tartar, we really enjoyed this version. The true epiphany though was the asparagus ice cream. This diminutive scoop of green cream irrevocably altered the way we will look at asparagus. Upon first impact your brain is overloaded with immense endorphins from its pure astonishing delight. There is a slight asparagus taste to it but it is coupled with such an enrapturing cream that it literally mesmerizes you. Our only complaint was that we could not get a huge sundae style scoop of it.
The phenomenal finale came in the form of a dessert that was captivating in both taste and appearance. White Chocolate and Olive Oil Hot Cream with Lavender Slush and Passion Fruit Jelly. This is a dish that most chefs would need a genie to conjure up. The mix of hot olive oil cream and white chocolate was insanely gratifying, addictive and would have been a stellar dessert just on its own, but it did not stop there. There was this lavender slush in it that was simply divine. It was the perfect exclamation point to one of the best meals we have ever had and our favorite restaurant in Florence.
Osteria Personale is an absolute MUST to eat at in Florence. It is one of the most creative and delectable restaurants in the world. It is a place where you can experience brand new flavors and eat ingredients like you have never imagined before. This sensational food is also reasonably priced. He has a four-course tasting menu for only 40 euros or 6 courses for 55 euros. You probably will not find more delicious, rare and creative food anywhere else in the world at these prices.
If you go to Florence and do not eat there you have failed miserably. We missed out by getting there too late and only tasting a fraction of his 15 dishes. On our next trip to Italy, we look forward to going back and trying them all. Osteria Personale is an unadulterated and special gift to the world. We hope that Michelin will reward it soon with well-deserved stars. Thank you, Matteo, and keep up the ingenious work!