Modern Sicilian at Arà è Sud (Florence, Italy)
When you travel through Florence, almost all of the food you will encounter will be traditional Tuscan fare that tends to be the hearty food because of its longtime history of cooking peasant food. Arà è Sud is a good option if you are looking for Sicilian fare that is tends to be lighter with the extensive use of seafood in its cooking but it’s still flavorful.
Arà è Sud is a bistro type of restaurant that has a casual vibe but serves really good Sicilian food led by Chef Carmelo Pannocchietti.
My dining companion and I interestingly craved octopus prepared and served in different ways. Mine was a salad of potato, octopus and red shrimp from Mazara. The large octopus tentacle was beautifully cooked and tender. The shrimp was sweet and having a little squeeze of fresh lemon over the entire dish brightened up the flavors. My friend has an octopus salad, carrots, celery, and extra virgin olive oil served on a Romaine lettuce leaf. The salad was equally good and a touch more refreshing since there’s celery.
For our primi courses, my friend had a four cheese soup with farro. It was surprisingly light with a touch of acidity given there were four local cheeses within the Tuscan region used in that bowl. I had the pasta with sardine that was flavorful from the fish.
My friend’s formaggio arrosto looks akin to a grilled cheese sandwich but topped with a salad of tomatoes, capers and onions. My dish was an interesting way of presenting fried fish by shaping it into a cannoli and playfully fill it with fresh sauteed broccoli. Both dishes are playfully plated and they have familiar flavors and the flavors for our respective dishes were good.
For dessert, we had petit fours of Modican chocolate (it’s made from the same area that Chef Pannocchietti is from) and marzipan cookies. The chocolate was unique because it’s dark chocolate made with coarse sugar, almost like the texture of Mexican chocolate but without the spices. The cookies were lovely. We shared the dessert of a traditional cassatina cake, a cake filled with ricotta and topped with bright green marzipan.
Overall, we had a very good experience. The service was informative of the various dishes that we were not too familiar with and the food was filling but without feeling heavy. It’s a great option if you want something that isn’t Tuscan food.
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Arà è Sud
Via della Vigna Vecchia, 4
50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Phone: +39 331 217 0926