Piazza della Signoria, Florence. The homeland of the Italian Renaissance. I never thought I’d eat in one of the most historic and beautiful squares in our country. I am in the heart of Florence, in the historic headquarters of the Gucci Maison, where Massimo Bottura has created his Gucci Osteria, an intimate restaurant with 30 seats, the result of a project created together with the CEO of Gucci Marco Bizzarri, linked by a deep friendship. Gucci Osteria was born to celebrate the passions they have in common: food and fashion. Growing up in Modena, both Massimo and Marco have always stimulated each other, becoming innovators in their respective sectors, and creating an original place, but with roots rooted in tradition.
Less than two years after its opening, the 2020 Michelin Guide has decided to award the first Michelin Star to “Gucci Osteria da Massimo Bottura” in November 2019.
The Gucci Osteria is located inside the Gucci Garden, located in the historic and elegant Palazzo della Mercanzia in Florence, the city from which it draws its origins. Designed by the creative director of Gucci Alessandro Michele, the space hosts, in addition to the Osteria, a constantly evolving exhibition area, a boutique with unique items and a cinema.
The Gucci Garden Gallery is the exhibition area that I visited with a tour of about an hour. Each room is linked by a common thread, with a perfect connection between what is explained and what I then saw, embellished by the most important items of the Maison Gucci but also by contemporary artists who have painted some walls of this museum. A dynamic and interactive experience that celebrates the historical archive of one of the most important Italian fashion houses.
Experience is the key word that also returns in the journey through the flavors that I made in the kitchen of Gucci Osteria where the mind, palate and heart came together in the dishes of Karime López, the Mexican-born chef who trained in some of the best restaurants international stars. Karime began her career at the Sant Celoni of Santi Santamaria, two Michelin stars, and then continued in the gastronomy temples of Noma in Copenhagen, three Michelin stars, Ryugin in Tokyo, Pujol in his beloved Mexico City, Mugaritz in Spain and Central Restaurante in Lima.
Before becoming chef de cuisine at Gucci Osteria, Lòpez worked with Massimo Bottura at the legendary Osteria Francescana. Italy became her home after meeting and falling in love with the sous chef of Osteria Francescana. Karime is a woman with very warm tones, sweet eyes, a kind and welcoming person.
The menu created by the chef is inspired by her travels and her international gastronomic experiences, the multiculturalism of her team and her passion for art and music.
“Sweet weather still invites us all
to leave the sad thoughts and pains vanished:
while this short life lasts,
everyone rejoices, everyone falls in love.
Be content who can: riches and honors
for those who are not satisfied, ask in vain “
As soon as I open the menu, these 6 stanzas quoted in “Opere, Carnascialeschi Songs” by Lorenzo De Medici, take me back to the noble palaces and sumptuous courts of the Renaissance age. Like the Gucci Osteria menu: refined, elegant and original. You can feel the “international” imprint of the Mexican chef, perfectly balanced flavors and exceptional wine pairings presented by extremely trained, kind and attentive to detail staff.
The name of the menu “Renaissance Chapter” celebrates the commitment to self-expression and collaboration between different creative universes, a theme closely linked to the history of Florence as a historic center of cultural exchange.
The welcome entrée includes a dish called Panzanella Garden, a reinterpretation of the typical Tuscan panzanella. A dish of ancient origins, a sign that Karime knows and celebrates the Italian culinary tradition by reinterpreting it with taste.
His signature dish, the Purple Corn Tostada, is a Mexican-inspired bonito marinade, “fragrant and citric” as the menu says. My absolute favorite dish, my taste buds are ecstatic and with my mind I returned to my trip to Mexico a few years ago.
“And what a caper!” it is one of the dishes that struck me most. It is linguine with capers and clams, a perfect balance between the strong and penetrating taste of the capers and the taste of the sea given by the clams. We then continue with with the breed, snow peas and roasted root. Jackdaws are a variety of peas that blend perfectly with the flavor of a poor fish but rich in taste. The white and delicate meats of the breed make this dish one of the most successful. We continue with the meat “Al bacio di Chianina”: Chianina tongue and green beans, one of the most prestigious Italian cattle breeds and a Florentine gastronomic myth.
We close with desserts: the Cherry Hill and Peach & Rosemary. Between the two I preferred the first one, all cherry-based, well presented and with an exceptional taste. Instead the combination of peach and rosemary results in delicate and pleasant flavors.
The dishes of the hostess are all balanced, clean both in presentation and in harmony in the mouth, all tastes can be perfectly distinguished.
Gucci is a brand that stands for attention to detail and originality and conveys all this in the kitchen. A marriage between the dishes prepared by Lopez (under the artistic direction of Massimo Bottura) and the Gucci label, one of the largest fashion brands in the world. An immersive and engaging experience with a positive message behind it: a female chef in a gastronomic landscape dominated mainly by men. An example of strength and determination, which deserves to be known and which encourages women to believe in their aspirations.