At the Florentine Caffè dell’Oro, owned by the Ferragamo family, the Italian-American chef has built his line of cuisine based on contamination from the world and research on the best Italian ingredients.
The result is excellent The Lungarno Collection is a solid reality in the world of Florentine hospitality offer (and not only, since there will soon be the new Milanese opening in Corso Venezia). Let’s say that the Ferragamos had seen us well when they decided to enter the hospitality business, inventing a format that is absolutely unique in style and elegance, declining it according to different segments of the offer. With the Hotel Lungarno, the Gallery Art Hotel, the Continentale and the Portrait (in Rome as well as in Florence) the Ferragamo family has shown that they have studied very well how the tourist clientele selects their holiday and business destinations and has therefore able to grasp the desires and aspirations of gourmets in a continuous search for the best with great sensitivity. We had proof of this during a recent visit, which confirmed feelings already experienced previously. Already with the Borgo San Jacopo restaurant, a Michelin star and with the Fusion Bar & Restaurant, a careful segmentation of the offer had begun, but it is with the Caffè dell’Oro, the Portrait restaurant (director the good and wise Diego Roggero) that the Ferragamo family has created an innovative format but of substance, far from vaporous and fancy flights and firmly anchored to concreteness and clarity: the beauty of the place, overlooking the Lungarno in front of Ponte Vecchio, adds charm to the experience. Here you can breathe modernity, with a good dose of contamination, ideal for those who want to leave the conventional while remaining within the scope of a series A culinary offer, tested and guaranteed by the professionalism of those who work in the kitchen and in the dining room. Caffè dell’Oro is the realm of chef Antonio Minichiello, who in his work expresses a mix of rigor, discipline and pure, courageous passion.
And the room is excellently led by Claudia Rosati, a discreet presence but attentive to every detail. Antonio, born in 1983, was born in New Jersey but grew up in Italy, in Atripalda in the province of Avellino. His father, a computer technician, has always had a strong passion for the countryside and Antonio grew up surrounded by fresh products, in the midst of nature, among chestnuts and aubergines, hazelnuts and tomatoes, officinal herbs, fruit and vegetables. . And then the breeding of chickens and rabbits, the production of wine, Aglianico and Falanghina and extra virgin olive oil. From a very young age he learned to deeply know the ingredients and raw materials; the real revolution is when he understands and metabolizes the right moment to collect them, select them, use them and, in the end, enhance them in their authenticity. Not particularly fond of school attendance, his father decides to find Antonio, at the age of thirteenth, a seasonal job at his uncle’s restaurant.
Little by little, what was initially just fatigue and seemed to have no precise meaning, begins to be experienced by Antonio with a different awareness, with a curiosity that pushed him to test himself and, at the same time, to increase his skills in the field. Awareness becomes appreciation and everything soon turns into passion by supporting my uncle and mother in the kitchen “It took me little to understand that cooking was my life and that I would not have chosen a job but simply what I really loved to do”. Eager to learn, he chooses to attend hotel school, where he graduates with flying colors. Antonio spends the first ten years of his career in Italy, perfecting his skills. In 2005, he arrived in Tuscany at Bagni di Pisa Resort & SPA and – only a year later – at the starred restaurant La Terrazza of the Eden Hotel in Rome, whose cuisine was made famous by the great chef Enrico Derflingher in the late nineties. His international experience began in 2008 when he began his ten-year adventure in Four Seasons: first London, then Prague, as sous chef at the Michelin-starred restaurant Allegro. In 2010 he arrives in the United States, his hometown where he had always dreamed of being able to return.
In Las Vegas he is head of the Veranda restaurant where he successfully carries on the concept of authentic Italian cuisine. In his mind a single desire guides him: to transfer all the passion he had in his dishes, because “if you cook with love, you can see”. At 26, he is the youngest chef on the Las Vegas Strip, a city that has given him the opportunity to shine for 10 years. And it is in Las Vegas that he marries Carmen, like in a movie, in a pink Cadillac in the Little White Chapel and, a few years later, their little Francesca arrives. In 2020 there is a very strong desire to return to Italy and in 2021 his dream comes true thanks at the meeting with the Lungarno Collection and the Caffè dell’Oro. The perfect format for him: a contemporary Italian coffee that gives him the opportunity to express his double soul… as much Italian and true as it is profoundly international and imbued with flavors and memories of his travels. Taste his dishes, the result of skilful attention to cultural influences that are far from ours, how deeply “inside” the best regional tradition of the Bel Paese. The additional note to this description concerns the region of origin of Antonio Minichiello, Campania. A land that inspires and gives strength, which encourages to dare, even with dishes whose tastings become a moment of celebration, even before reflection: “Because I want to get to the taste of the material, so that it expresses itself in all its potential and makes enjoy, with that greedy effect that many chefs often forget ”, Antonio told us during our meeting. So, off with: Bun di moeche, or Crab with a soft shell, ginger salad and lavender gel, to then move on to a fantastic steamed Bao with sweet and sour suckling pig and, in the Fusion Tapas section, Thai calamari in tempura, peppers and garlic mousse, Angus sashimi, ceviche, chili aioli and meringues.
The appetizers are more structured, where we have chosen Crispy octopus, burrata foam, pea cream with shiso, bacon and wasabi, Beef tartare with crunchy nori seaweed, Hamachi raw amberjack, guacamole, white soy, yuzu and raspberries. Among the first is a triumph of the matter of regions and territories close to us. Do not miss the Spaghetti with tomato extract and bottarga, the Risotto Acquerello with cheese and pepper with sea urchins, the Fusilloro with pink prawns and saffron, the amatriciana and coconut bundles, the stuffed Pappardella alla Norma. Among the second courses, we point out, for succulence of flavors, the turbot in black bread crust, the Upstream salmon confit, asparagus and white wine, the fillet of beef with zucchini flowers stuffed with taleggio cheese and anchovies, Tamari and shallot. In the chapter of the menu dedicated to special dishes, however, we are obliged to report a majestic elephant ear cutlet (alternative to the orthodox version but far from any pretentious fashion), served by reservation only for two people, accompanied by typical side dishes and sauces , made by the chef. Together with the Hamburger Caffe dell’oro, beef with a knife, Tuscan pancetta, smoked provolone and onion, it represents a greedy and counter-current “duet” with respect to the whole line of the menu, characterized by a very personal style, which does not indulge in no way to “single thought” in the kitchen! The numbers Kitchen: 10 Wines: 8 Room service: 9 Location: 9 Atmosphere: 9 Total: 45/50