Sherman's Food Adventures: Ristorante Romantico il Paiolo

Ristorante Romantico il Paiolo

Since we were trying to dine on something quintessential to Florence, we were on the hunt for Bistecca alla Florentine.  This famous item consists of an adult Tuscan ribeye that is aged and has to be minimum 1.2kg in size.  Furthermore, the thickness has to be 3-4 fingers high and can be only cooked to rare.  Well all of this sounded awesome to us as and we decided to give il Paiolo a try since it is highly-rated and wasn't far from our apartment.  Similar to many other restaurants serving bistecca, they have a display at the front with all of the whole prime ribs.

Of course we had to eat other dishes too, so we started with another Tuscan specialty in the Crostini Misti su Polenta Grigliata featuring toasted polenta topped with chicken liver, blue cheese, mushrooms and meat sauce.  Really enjoyed this as the polenta was firm, yet wasn't hard.  The chunky chicken liver Pâté is something I've had before from Fiorino in Vancouver and this was similar, if not better.  The bits of liver were tender while the rest was buttery and well-seasoned with the sweetness of masala.  Even though blue cheese can be pretty sharp, this one here was creamy and well-balanced.  I particularly loved the bolognese as it was meaty and rich, going well with the polenta.

Next, we had the Sformato di Carciofi con Fonduta di Burrata or Artichoke flan with burrata fondue.  This was certainly something different that we've never had before.  I didn't find the flan particularly fluffy due to the amount of artichokes compared to the amount of eggs.  However, I didn't mind that as it gave the flan more substance.  Even before we talk about the burrata fondue, the flan itself was plenty nutty and cheesy.  However, it got even more creamy and cheese with the fondue.

Trying to get all of the greatest hits, we had another Tuscan specialty in the La Nostra "Ribollita" Toscana or Traditional Tuscan Bread Soup with mixed vegetables.  This was certainly hearty due to the addition of bread but it was hardly dense and not heavy.  Rather, the bread had soaked up all of the sweetness of the vegetables.  We actually could eat this with a fork and it was so comforting with the mix of tender veggies and fluffy bread.

Before we got to the steak, we had a few pastas first in the Pappardelle al Ragù di Cinghiale.  This featured extremely al dente pappardelle which was fine by us.  It was simply tossed in stewed wild boar and the accompanying stewing liquid.  Hence, this was a rather meaty dish with chunks of lean wild boar and the sweetness of the sauce.  Although lean, the boar was still plenty tender and moist.

Just because the kids love it, we also got the Lasagna Tradizionali al Forno.  This was actually very good with a bevy of thin sheets of fresh pasta with a noticeably creamy bolognese.  We found the pasta to be firm despite being layered with meat, cheese and sauce.  About that sauce, it was plenty meaty with the aforementeioned creaminess.  Hence, any tomato flavour was completely tempered.

Now to the 1.2kg Florentine Steak cooked on the bone.  This was cooked to rare as evidenced in the picture.  We found the meat sufficiently tender, yet it had a bit of a chew.  Not surprising since it is a ribeye.  It had good natural meat flavour while mildly salted.  There was a good char on the outside.  In the end, we found the food pretty good, but was wanting a bit more.  Service was friendly, yet very slow.  It took us quite long to finish our meal and to get the bill.

The Good:
- Super friendly staff
- Decent eats

The Bad:
- Friendly, but super slow service


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