I first heard of Trattoria Da Sostanza from a friend who featured the place on her blog, The Hungry Ballerina and who adamantly insisted I tried the butter chicken at this famous hole in the wall bistro.
Da Sostanza has been on the same street since 1869 and in the exact spot and space since around 1932 after having been forced to move due to either a fire or a flood... I forget which exactly. Either way, I don't think I've eaten in a place that's been around this long!
What I find remarkable is that despite its success and longevity, Da Sostanza has stayed put in a space that fits no more than 45 people. Unlike most of the world, with our capitalist inclinations, it's in small European cities that one finds gems like these that don't heed the pressure of going bigger and reaching further.
Therefore, obviously you'll need a reservation, obviously you'll need to bring cash and obviously you can't expect them to be open on Sundays! Or is it weekends? Charming like a 143 year old I say.
So let's get to the meat of this. Once you get over how long this spartan and straight forward place has been around and how long they've been cooking the same thing in this tiny kitchen and stove, you'll soon appreciate what generations of Florentines and tourists have been coming back for.
Firstly, the WARM, SOFT rolls. I don't know about you but coming from a land of pillowy pandesals, this was a welcome break from the hard and crusty rolls that we've been having all week. I thought warming the bread was a thoughtful touch that no one else in the area bothered to do.
Then of course next we had some Fegatini ... not the best in the city but I forgive them.
And of course had to have a carafe of wine to wash things down properly. Their house wine was good enough so no need to spend extra for a better bottle!
Here are two pasta dishes, satisfying and perfectly done in its simplicity... a penne ragu and a buttery tortellini. Classic.
We've had a bit much of Florentine Steak at this point in the trip and so opted to have its famous side instead... the Tortino Carciofi simply known as artichoke omelet. This was a revelation. We ordered another one bubbling and fresh off the pan. Heavenly with the warmed bread.
But the dish of the hour, or more appropriately, the century, is the Petti di Pollo al Burro, plainly put, butter fried chicken! What can I say, anything that swims in butter is bound to be good!
The friendly cook and waitstaff allowed me to watch lunch being cooked. Here are a pair of boneless, skin on chicken breasts frying in frothy butter! I'm not big on chicken breasts but this was simply amazing. Nutty and surprisingly juicy and tender, I COULD have this often, except of course for the calorie issue. Sigh!
Undisputedly one of the better meals I had in Florence, I expect Trattoria Da Sostanza to last another hundred years easily! Perhaps by then they'd consider accepting credit cards.
Trattoria Da Sostanza
Via Porcellana, 25r, Florence, Italy
+ 39 055 212691