I entered Riflessi Ristorante with a breeze from Via Cavour. I was greeted by the waiters and sat myself near the illuminated waterfall. The hotel I have never seen and since it is on the busy street of Via Cavour, it is rare that I notice things. I am either flying down the street on my bike or riding down it on the bus. It is an incredible hotel. The front of the hotel doesn’t do it justice. The inside has an open-air courtyard that is mostly the terrace for the restaurant. I asked for a tour of the hotel, I was kindly offered it. His name was Pietro. He walked me through the bar and lounge area and described that a long piece of the wall that stood in front of me changes often with new artwork with local artists. We continued to the lobby where he greets the reception with grace. He obtains two keys to a standard and superior room in which I would get an exclusive peak. From the hotels I have been to in the center, this one is very modern and full of light. Windows everywhere.
The rooms I saw were very spacious. The only difference between the superior and the standard is the view with terrace and the steam machine for your trousers in the superior room. The hotel’s hallways all open to the courtyard in which you can see down onto the patio and a rectangle-shaped putting green. Yes, a putting green. My tour lead me to the basement where breakfast is served in a vast room with a kitchen located in the back as well. On the way back to the patio walking up the stairs as a waterfall flows beside it, Pietro brings me through the billiard room/conference room. Where there is a table with electrical sockets available for computers. Then I see a bright kind of Narnia type painting on the wall which is the last piece of work that was left from the art school that occupied this space 5 years before. There are also computers in this room for internet use. I figure this would be the end of the tour when he leads me to the space below the computer room where there is a tiny gym with state of the art equipment. I was speechless. We make our way back to the bar, where Joe, makes me a nice cocktail.
On my way back to my table, I realize this is one of Florence’s kept secrets. A restaurant hidden inside a hotel, sounds normal yes, but the space and energy is much different than other hotels with restaurants. I sit amongst the flowers and green plants that are tended to every couple of days. I felt very calm. Pietro makes his way back to my table with a bottle of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and then another bottle of Rose di Sicilia. He explains that he is pairing what I will consume with the right wine. I was impressed since I am not one to pair my wine with food. Bad Katie! (Katie smacks her own hand). I like to drink it, that’s what I know for sure. The anxiety sets in, I really can’t wait to taste this food with the wine he has chosen.
And so arrives my plate of antipasti. Soon after arrives Pietro to explain to me what I am about to eat. I took a last sip of my cocktail before it was whisked away, “you don’t need that anymore”, he says with the look of “tsk tsk”. How embarrassed was I? I begin to listen to Pietro explain the story of the Vernaccia and which side of my plate I shall eat with it. Then the Rose he explained how it paired beautifully with the zucchini flowers and cheese. It was kind of a game for me. Since I usually eat haphazardly without thinking what I should eat or drink and with what. I was intrigued by this. I sat, listening to my body become accustom to eating and enjoying the wine with slow movements. I remember thinking, ‘I can taste the wine so clearly’. Never has it been so clear on my palate. I smile softly to myself and think back to when I truly enjoyed a wine paired evenly with the food I consume. I can’t remember.
I finish my plate in due time for Pietro to bring me a brand new bottle of Chianti Classico. Explaining as he opens, that this wine is 80% Sangiovese grape and 20% Merlot grape. That explains why I love Sangiovese wine, it is very popular in Tuscany. :) This Chianti is to be paired with a savory fillet surrounded by vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes. I take slow bites of my meat, oh how heavenly it tasted with my wine. I am astounded. At this point I am beyond full of wine, meat, conversation and genuine love of the food I am consuming.
Sadly, my meal comes to an end. I sit and listen with both ears the sounds of the room. Chatter of the patrons. The explanations of the waiters. The waterfall that fell slowly beside my table. I ask for a caffe normale. Not wanting the evening to end, I sip it slowly. The evening concludes with me thanking the waiters for their constant attention of my enjoyment with a kiss on both cheeks. I depart down the stone steps hoping each experience can be as good as this one.
The waiters at Riflessi want you to enjoy every thing about the meal. If something doesn’t taste quite right, say something. They are attuned to what could make the meal even better.
Riflessi in Italian means Reflections. My reflection is as follows: I reflected on how I consume my food and how it makes the dining experience so much more intimate.
Via Cavour 88
Tel. +39 055 589456
Fax +39 055 561408