Italian has always been my favorite cuisine, and when I lived in New York, I would always state that I was going out for “Italian” or craving “Italian” whether I was referring to Italian-American nosh or a restaurant specializing in regional food such as the dishes of Rome or Piedmont.
Living in Italy, I barely call Italian food “Italian” anymore because I’ve come to truly appreciate how Italian food is regional. I don’t describe any Italian restaurants here as “Italian”. I usually just say the restaurant’s name and if applicable, describe the kitchen’s specialty.
Last month I went to the inauguration of ToscaNino Milano. This charming locale is not only the answer to my la cucina Toscana prayers, but it also stole my heart. A “Made in Tuscany” concept shop founded by Florentine entrepreneurs Simone Arnetoli and Laura Tosetti, ToscaNino is equal parts restaurant, bakery, bar, enoteca and boutique, offering more than 800 goods from more than 150 Tuscan producers.
The salumeria sells an array of meats and cheeses, while the forno stays on all day so the bakers can churn out bread that includes the braid-shaped Sbirulino® and Tirata, two Tuscan specialties made with organic stone-ground wheat Tuscan flour and pasta madre.
The dinner menu features traditional Tuscan dishes like pappardelle al cinghiale (wild boar ragu), bistecca alla Fiorentina steak, baccalà alla livornese and polpette di manzo (beef meatballs) to name a few. Dine in or take it home! I’ve had a thing for soup my whole life, and the four that I tasted exploded with flavor and actually this summer loving beach bum excited for winter: Pappa al pomodoro (a thick tomato soup), Ribollita (a typical Tuscan soup with a bread base), pumpkin vellutata and legumi e cereali (beans and grains).
Tuscany spirits can be found in the cocktails as well with gin from Prato and Tuscan vermouth comprising the Negroni. Specialty drinks include ToscaNino’s namesake libation: A medley of red grapefruit, apricot confiture, red wine, chinotto, sambuca flowers, tobacco bitters and rosemary. On the wine fronts, all of Tuscany’s stars are on offer, including Chianti, Bolgheri, and Montepulciano to name a few. Take the bottle home or enjoy it onsite for just a 4€ service fee.
Last but not least: The goods! In addition to the digestible nosh, ToscaNino Milano sells items that will up your tabletop game such as Montespertoli colored glass plates and handmade ceramics; glasses, vases and bottles created by Empoli glassmakers; wooden and marble cutting boards; and Scarperia knives. The various linen or cotton items, some even in typical bright Casentino colors, and linens such as tablecloths, dish towels, aprons and pillows as well as lampshades and chair cushions made from old postal bags.
Toscanino’s elegant, yet unfussy rustic décor is balanced by a feels-like-home vibe with cozy furnishings that include low tables, sofas, and armchairs, as well as some communal tables in addition to proper restaurant seating. The big, open, airy locale feels like being in a spacious country agriturismo instead of in a big bustling city.
I ate and imbibed quite well at the inauguration, and ogled at some of the gorgeous table ornaments that beckoned me from the shelves, many of which I now covet. I can’t wait to go back and experience ToscaNino in its true form, especially in the spring, when the floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open to the sidewalk. But I’ll be back before then.
via Melzo angolo via Lambro
Monday – Saturday: 11am to 12am
All photos: ToscaNino Milano