The title of this blog post has a much deeper meaning than it suggests. A meaning I will discuss soon. But first..
When we first decided on a Tuscany/Rome trip in the summer instead of the planned Banff, Canada, I didn’t waste much time and started researching food before I even knew where exactly we are going. Da Ruggero was the first restaurant I read about (on the excellent Elizabeth Minchilli blog) and the first restaurant I added to the itinerary. 3 months later however I found myself struggling to keep it in the itinerary due to its location, but I managed to squeeze in a lunch after Pitti Palace (nice 20 minute walk). A lunch which unquestionably turned out to be the top meal in Florence for us.
When we walked inside one of the first things I noticed gave me a feeling of relief; tattoos. “Why Ziggy did tattoos give you a feeling of relief”. Well I’m glad you asked Timmy! That’s because when I read about this place I saw a few mentions of perfect English coming from the tattooed waiter. You see Timmy, the only Italian I speak is “Menu Italian”. I’m ok with Italian menus and on occasion when we do get English menus I ask for one in Italian just to make sure nothing good is lost in translation. But I cant Incorporate “Menu Italian” into conversation. Except when I learned elementary Italian cursing (while waiting for my International Driver’s Permit imagining being stopped by a cop in Italy). I figured I can utilize “Menu Italian” in phrases like “Tuo padre è un pollo” (Your father is a Chicken). So getting an English speaking waiter means I dont need to struggle and I can enjoy and relax. Of course the opposite is normally true for the waiter(s), but that’s there problem.
I think I digressed long enough this time. Our tattooed friend was pleasantly surprised and reassured us that we ordered all the goof stuff. His great English comes from marrying a Russian, which also means (from experience) that he doesn’t need to make a decision for the rest of his life.
The dishes at Ragurro ranged from Very Good to Andrew Zimmern like facial expressions “This is it” good. Started with another nice crostini with liver, a popular starter in Tuscany. A very pleasant farro salad with asparagus, fresh tomatoes and shrimp was especially liked by Mrs Ziggy. My first Pappa al Pomodoro of the trip might as well have been my last. Delicious! The waiter reassure me that this is one of best Pappas in town. Who knew tomatoes and stale bread can taste so good.
We shared a couple of pastas between the 4 of us and they were both outstanding. An almost see through thin tagliatelle with zucchini flowers and a little bit of heat. And more heat via the Spaghetti Carrettiera, essentially spicy spaghetti. So simple and SO addictive.
For secondi we just shared a pork chop (2 hefty pieces) which turned out more than enough for us. Up until that point our secondis in Florence were less than stellar. This was stellar. I don’t believe I ever tasted a pork chop as moist, juicy and flavorful as this.
On the wall near us we spotted an article by the Seattle Times of all things titled “A good place to eat” touting Mr Ruggero’s restaurant and his cooking. That was 1969. Now in another location, son and daughter are continuing the legacy and judging by the food and the packed house on a Sunday afternoon I would say they are doing a fine job. We were the only tourists there. I can only say it about one other restaurant we visited this trip. Diners included a family with a 4 year who was talking non stop to his uncle about Star Wars. A mother and daughter, an older gentleman wearing a suit. All of which set the scene to one of those memorable meals that remind you why you go to Italy.
I hear angels singing!!! We have about 48 hours in Florence before we head off into the Tuscan countryside. I have a list of 17 different places we MUST eat at in Florence. If we pace ourselves and don’t sleep for said 48 hours….
17 is a good start and I think you have a solid plan there. I will have more content so save some room
Do you have an itinerary posted somewhere?
The tattooed waiter, with perfect English guided us on our dining adventure last month. We ventured across the river for a bit of a cab ride, into a very nondescript storefront and into a packed house on a Saturday night. We had reservations, thank goodness. I’d say Ivan, the tattooed waiter, is more the lone biker type, not the hipster apparently he has been called. Even with Ziggy fame, he was down to earth and gave us excellent advice and service! Bravo Ivan! And our dinner left us wanting to return, with no time to return. Until next visit…