Visit: 18 August 2022
Award: 1 Michelin star
Il Palagio is a 1-Michelin starred restaurant located at the Four Seasons hotel in the centre of Florence. The Executive Chef, Paolo Lavezzini, was appointed to Il Palagio in July 2021, and has long experience in Michelin starred restaurants in Italy and France, and worked for 10 years in Brazil.
The Four Seasons hotel is spectacular and has a very good bar that serves a superb classical Negroni with Tuscan gin “Ginarte” and vermouth “Bitter Fusetti”.
The restaurant is elegantly appointed, and the service was very professional and friendly. The range of menus in the restaurant included a tasting menu “Menu Gherardesca” at 150 Euros, “Menu Cedro” at 135 Euros, and an a la carte option. We chose the “Menu Gherardesca” that had 6 courses, with matching wines.
We started with a selection of bread and breadsticks that were made from scratch on the premises. These were the best breadsticks I tasted during this trip to Florence.
There was a selection of amuse bouche that included a sablé made with Pecorino and mascarpone mousse that was topped with carrot and pineapple marmalade, a tomato marinated in sugar and vinegar, a sponge with black garlic and lard that was topped with cuttlefish, and a zucchini marinated with orange and mint. There was another amuse bouche of scampi, melon, almond milk, mint and mint oil. All the amuse bouche we innovative and very enjoyable.
The first appetizer was zucchini marinated with mint, San Miniato saffron ice cream sprinkled with cayenne pepper, and an onion infusion. San Miniato is a town and commune in the province of Pisa known for the cultivation of tomato “sanminiatese”, artichoke and saffron, and famous for its white truffles. The course was simple, but used very good local ingredients, and had great depth of flavour.
The second appetizer was grilled lobster tail, served with fish mayonnaise, apple and fermented blueberries. The lobster was precisely cooked, succulent and very sweet.
The first course of risotto with tomatoes and ‘‘Pecorino di grotta” cheese reminded me of the flavours of a pizza. Again, top quality local products were used, and the flavour was excellent.
Our other first course was Livornese (Leghorn) cockerel agnolotti, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese with a generous shaving of San Miniato summer truffle. Agnolotti is a type of pasta typical of the Piedmont region, made with small pieces of flattened pasta dough that are folded over a filling of roasted meat or vegetables. The pasta was very well made, and the cockerel had a deep flavour, enhanced with the Parmesan and truffle. This was an exceptional dish.
The main course was Casentino lamb from the “Fracassi selection” (Simone Fracassi is a famous Italian butcher, known as the “King of Chianina meat”, with a butchery in Rassina in the province of Arezzo), lamb sweetbread, with carrots smoked with hay, and cardamom mousse. The lamb was perfectly cooked, and the sweetbreads added a nice dimension to the dish.
We were served a palate refresher of watermelon sorbet, with a sugar waffle on top. The dessert was a very nice soft fig pie with pine nuts ice cream.
Coffee and excellent petit fours followed. The petit fours included a peach and lavender jelly, a coconut and almond tartlet, a white chocolate macaroon, a cherry jelly, a melon tartlet, and a coffee ice cream. We chose a coffee blend from the specialized coffee menu. The coffee was ground and brewed on a trolley at the side of our table. We tried the intense Jamaican Wallenford Estate Blue Mountain, and the Columbian Barrique di Rum that had notes of rum and cherry from the barriques the beans were aged in for 8 years. Both coffees were excellent, and it was nice to see the coffee being carefully prepared and vacuum brewed.
The food at Il Palagio was excellent, as was the service and our overall experience. This is a restaurant working at the top of their game. We also enjoyed the pre-dinner cocktails in the bar and appreciated the knowledge and professionalism of the staff. When I return to Florence, this will be one of the restaurants I will revisit.
Warming the water for the coffee:
Brewing the coffee:
Executive Chef Paolo Lavezzini was appointed to Il Palagio in July 2021. Paolo began his career with chef Angelo Paracucchi at the Italian Michelin starred Il Carpaccio restaurant at Royal Monceau, Paris, then worked with Alain Ducasse at Michelin 3-star Plaza Athénée. He also worked at the Michelin 3-star Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, and at the Michelin starred Plaza e de Russie hotel in Viareggio.
Paolo then worked for ten years in Brazil, first at the Hotel Fasano in Rio de Janeiro, and then at the Four Seasons Hotel São Paulo. He led the Neto restaurant for two years as executive chef, and was awarded the Gambero Rosso International’s Tre Forchette Tricolore in 2019.
Outside the restaurant: