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Iron Chef Traveloque - Episode 21 - "Mama Mia, lo troviamo " __ David Wong (64)

Episode 21  Mama Mia, lo troviamo [mother of God, we found it]
 

Piazza Santa Croce has a church built in the same design and fashion as the Duomo. The Duomo is very elaborate and intricate on the outside but the inside is almost barren compared with other churches. It is big and monumental but the inside is rather stoic. Whereas the Santa Croce church is also rich on the outside and it is richly decorated more with the inside. The graveyard of Michelangelo is here and so is the tomb of Galileo.  

The two figures outside are unmistakable.
One is Dante standing guard. 
The other one is the lion figure

      

At long last, we saw the twin leather shop on one side of the square. My heart almost jumped out of my mouth. We were not sure but when we approach the second alley way from the main route, we saw the yellow washed building and the outside patio was still there. THIS IS IT!

We looked further and we found the name has changed. Storm glass doors were put up though the inside décor added some more colors. The restaurant was packed. Various tourist groups invaded this place. The servers were running around trying to do everything at once. We got the attention of a server and asked for the Lasagne Bianco [White Lasagne] and we were disappointed they did not have it on the menu any more. The restaurant has also changed hands. It is a different owner and they cater their business more to tour groups.  

We ordered their version of Lasagne in normal tomato sauce but the feeling was not the same. That is how things work. Times change and things change with them. At least we had the good fortune to taste one of the best Lasagne ever. May be, someday we will run into another surprise. 

 

The sun may be shining but we felt dark clouds in our hearts after missing the Lasagne. We went towards the opposite direction of our hotel and then something caught our eyes. It was a restaurant with 3 full length front windows.  Parione is the name.

You can see the kitchen after you enter the front door. For a restaurant to have an open concept, they have to be very good with what they do. The kitchen has to be clean, organized and very efficient. Even the chefs have to give the best behaviour without soiling their chef coats. The other 2 wings of the restaurant are dining areas. Something about a little psychology here; the busier the restaurant, the more people would want to go in and try it. 

There was no waiting line when we got in. 7 PM is really early for dining in Italy. We saw the dining area filled up later on very quickly around 8. Guess that is the proper dining hour.

The owner of the restaurant Marco lived in the States for a long time before he moved back to Florence and started this restaurant. It looked like business was good and the crowd was happy.

Octopus salad                 Grilled octopus          Grilled calamari          Lobster risotto

They also have this dish; Octopus warm salad. Octopus is very difficult to grill. When done right, they are sweet and succulent. The meaty taste of the tentacles makes you swallow your tongue. Nowadays. Octopus, like calamari; are usually done deep fried rather than grilled. It is an excellent dish to go with wine. 

Lobster risotto was also on the menu. This time the lobster was a bit overdone and the risotto was too salty. It seems customary in Europe to cook with large amount of salt. May be they want us to drink more wine.

This dish has as many variations as stars in the sky. Every chef has a little twist when they make this risotto. Starting from the broth used down to the doneness of the rice; you have the trade-mark of the chef all the way through. But you want the rice to be creamy but not watery, you want the rice to have a little bit in the center, you do not want to see the garlic though you know the garlic is in there, and you need a colourful dish to serve as the background of the plain colour rice. Most of all, the rice has to be hot.

We could go on and on about food. We were happy to find this good restaurant and had a decent meal before we retired to our hotel. 

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