I don’t think the waiter at 4 Leoni in Florence believed me when I told him I had flown halfway across the world for the restaurant’s fiocchi di pera in salsa di taleggio e asparagi. And while it may have been a slight exaggeration, it is true that ever since making plans to return to Tuscany this past spring I looked forward to savoring this delightful dish again.
I first tasted 4 Leoni’s fiocchi in early January. It is unlike any other pasta dish I have had, and it is heavenly. The fiocchi are little pasta bundles filled with tiny pieces of pear. If I had to guess, I would say there is also a bit of ricotta in the mix. The sauce is a creamy blend of taleggio cheese and small bites of asparagus. The combination is amazing – simple snippets of sweetness as you bite into one of the pasta purses offset by the smooth yet surprisingly light sauce.
After ordering, I sat with a smile on my face in anticipation of what was to come. The waiter laughed as he set the dish down (he also seemed to indicate I was not the only customer who has had this reaction to fiocchi di pera in salsa di taleggio e asparagi). Each bite was perfectly soft (but not mushy) and melted in my mouth. The serving size was ideal – I was not left wanting more but I ate every last morsel. This type of meal is part of what I love about Italy - it is simple yet satisfying, portion-controlled yet plenty. It is served with pride and enjoyed (at least by me) with gratitude. There is nothing quite like satisfying a craving, is there?
4 Leoni is one of my favorite restaurants Oltrarno (on the other side of the River Arno) in Florence. It blends Tuscan architectural style with modern accents, and its location in a historic piazza adds to the ambience. The menu is varied with many types of pasta dishes as well as grilled meats - something for everyone! It is popular with locals and tourists alike, so reservations are recommended. I, of course, also recommend the fiocchi.
-post by JG