Il Cibrèo ★★★

Il Cibreo restaurant in Florence, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Il Cibreo)
Ristorante Il Cibreo in Florence.

The jewel in the crown of a Florentine mini culinary empire

One of top restaurants in town remains the pricey restaurant of choice in Florence for artsy intelligentsia types, both international and Florentine.

Fabio Picchi's cooking is superb, but a bit quirky—there are no steaks to be found, and even more oddly, no pasta. Yet all dishes are absolutely genuine, based on truly ancient Florentine recipes (and many go wonderfully heavy on the peperoncino, which hangs in garlands from the window through to the kitchen).

You never quite know what you're going to get, since they whip up everything based on what's best each morning at the nearby Sant'Ambrogio market.

There's not even a menu; your waiter or waitress will simply grab a spare chair (or crouch by your table) to sit and describe, in mouth-watering detail, the delectables available that evening. (I know some people dig that, others find it annoying, but this is how they've been doing it for decades.)

This fan-cooled restaurant is full of intellectual babble, where the elegance is in the substance of the food and the service, not in surface appearances.

All the food is spectacular, and whiel those dishes do change regularly, if they're available try the yellow pepper soup drizzled with olive oil, the soufflé of potatoes and ricotta spiced and served with pecorino shavings and ragù, or the roasted duck stuffed with minced beef, raisins, and pinoli

Book ahead for this one. Oh, and if it's on tonight, don't miss ordering their namesake dish: cibrèo, a sinfully rich liver on toasted bread.

The Trattoria Cibrèo ("Cibreino"), around the corner at Via de' Macchi 122r, charges half as much for a more limited version of the same menu (from the same kitchen), but doesn't take reservations.

(The Picchi family also runs the nearby Caffè Cibrèo at Via del Verrocchio 5r, and a weird, post-modern dinner theater-type performance space called Il Teatro del Sale at Via de' Macchi 118.)

Tips & links


Il Cibrèo ★★★
Via Andrea del Verrocchio 8r, off Via dei Macchi
(Santa Croce)
tel. +39-055-234-1100
Closed Mon

Bus: C2, C3; 14, 23
Hop-on/hop-off: Azeglio (A), Piazza D'azeglio (C); Beccaria (A), Piazza Beccaria (C)

General dining tips
  • "Pane e coperto" is not a scam: Nearly all Italian restaurants have an unavoidable pane e coperto ("bread and cover" charge) of anything from €1 to €15—though most often €2 to €5—per person that is automatically added onto your bill. This is perfectly normal and perfectly legal (though a few trendy restaurants make a big deal about not charging it).
  • Find out if service (tip) is included: Don't double-tip by accident. If the menu has a line—usually near the bottom of the front or back—that says "servizio" with either a percentage, an amount, or the word "incluso" after it, that means the tip is automatically included in the price. (If it says "servizio non incluso," tip is, obviously, not included.)

    Even if the menu doesn't say it, ask É incluso il servizio? (ay een-CLOU-so eel sair-VEET-zee-yo)—"Is service included?" If not, tip accordingly (10%–15% is standard).

    Don't be stingy about tipping, though. If il servizio is, indeed, already included but the service was particularly good, it's customary to round up the bill or leave €1 per person extra—just to show you noticed and that you appreciated the effort.
  • Tourist menus: The concept of a bargain prix-fixe menu is not popular in Italy. Some restaurants do offer a menu turistico ("tourist menu"), which can cost from €8 to €20 and usually entails a choice from among two or three basic first courses (read: different pasta shapes, all in plain tomato sauce), a second course of roast chicken or a veal cutlet, and some water or wine and bread. With very few exceptions, tourist menus tend to live up to their name, appearing only at the sort of tourist-pandering restaurants that the locals wisely steer clear of.

    However, a menu à prezzo fisso ("fixed-price menu") is often a pretty good deal, usually offering a bit more choice than a tourist menu.

    Then—especially at nicer (and pricier) restaurants—there is the menu degustazione ("tasting menu"), usually far more expensive (anywhere from €25 to €110) that is a showcase of the chef's best, or of regional specialties, and can make for an excellent way to sample the kitchen's top dishes.
  • Book ahead: For restaurants that I am truly eager to try, I go ahead and book a table—at least at dinner. I find that a corollary of Murphy's Law seems to apply. If you prudently book ahead, you are likely to show up to a half-empty restaurant and feel a bit like a fool for having worried about finding a table. If, on the other hand, you just show up at the door expecting to find a free table, the place will inevitably be packed and its bookings full for the evening.
Culinary tours of Florence
Italian dining phrases
English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a restaurant un ristorante oon rees toh-RAHN-tay
...a casual restaurant una trattoria
oo-nah trah-toar-RHEE-yah
oon ohst-air-EE-yah
I would like to reserve... Vorrei prenotare... voar-RAY pray-note-ARE-eh
a table for two una tavola per due oo-nah TAH-voal-lah pair DOO-way
...for 7pm per le sette pair lay SET-tay
...for 7:30pm per le sette e mezzo pair lay SET-tay eh MET-tzoh
...for 8pm per le otto pair lay OH-toh
I would like Vorrei... voar-RAY
...some (of) un pó (di) oon POH (dee)
...this questo KWAY-sto
...that quello KWEL-loh
chicken pollo POL-loh
steak bistecca bee-STEAK-ah
veal vitello vee-TEL-oh
fish pesce PEH-shay
meat carne KAR-neh
I am vegetarian sono vegetariano SO-no veg-eh-tair-ee-YAH-no
side dish [veggies always come seperately] cotorno kon-TOR-no
dessert dolce DOAL-chay
and e ay
...a glass of un bicchiere di oon bee-key-YAIR-eh dee
...a bottle of una bottiglia di oo-na boh-TEEL-ya dee
...a half-liter of mezzo litro di MET-tzoh LEE-tro dee
...fizzy water acqua gassata AH-kwah gah-SAHT-tah
...still water acqua non gassata AH-kwah noan gah-SAHT-tah wine vino rosso VEE-noh ROH-so
...white wine vino bianco VEE-noh bee-YAHN-koh birra BEER-a
Check, please Il conto, per favore eel COAN-toh pair fah-VOAR-eh
Is service included? É incluso il servizio? ay een-CLOU-so eel sair-VEET-zee-yo

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Il Cibrèo ★★★
Via Andrea del Verrocchio 8r, off Via dei Macchi
(Santa Croce)
tel. +39-055-234-1100
Closed Mon

Bus: C2, C3; 14, 23
Hop-on/hop-off: Azeglio (A), Piazza D'azeglio (C); Beccaria (A), Piazza Beccaria (C)

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