You’re finally arrived in the city and the first thing that you want to do is to eat a wonderful and juicy florentine steak doc, isn’t it? One of those steaks that you have been told by your friends that visited Florence before you and those that you saw in the pic of your city guide bought before leaving, but you don’t know where… don’t worry, I’m here (also) for this reason and I’ve got the place for you: let’s go to the trattoria “Sostanza – Il troia” today, not just a restaurant, but a real institution of the city.
We are in the heart of the centre of Florence, two steps away from Piazza Ognissanti, in Via del Porcellana you’ll meet the owner Massimiliano Costiglioni, and even if the restaurant was born in 1869, starting from 1977 it has been managed with huge success from his family. He was very kind explaining me the story of this milestone of Tuscan cuisine, known by all the Florentine people.
When you get in the tavern in the centre of Florence, just behind the marble counter you will notice a black and white pic that portrays Guido Campolmi, who until 1944 has handled this restaurant that originally was an old butcher shop. Campolmi was not only a great cook, but a real master in the art of the flesh and of the steak “alla fiorentina”, so much that he used to serve its customers after having turned them with his bare hands on the cast iron, careless of his cooking apron like a real “troiaio” (it means filthy), as we say in Florence. From there comes the nickname of “I’Troia”, as a tribute to his “style”, but since this term was considered too strong, threatened not to exploit that that was the real “sostanza” (it means substance) of his plates, this is the reason why of its current name: “Sostanza- Il Troia”.
Still today, going there for dinner means to take a dip in the past load of life and of charm, reliving the magical atmosphere and genuine that only very few florentine trattorias still have. In the tarvern you can still breath the air of those years, the environment is very casual and warm, friendly waiters in a grey uniform come and go from the kitchen table, taking in the fantastic traditional dishes.
“Il Sostanza” is a place small and long with four tables, consequently, the seats are few and it’s probably that you’ll share the table with other customers. In fact the uniqueness of this environment is given also by his social circle: it is not uncommon to sit next to tourists from every part of the world, to the florentines doc, or connoisseurs of good regional cuisine and people coming from the world of culture, sport and showbiz.
But what really matters here is food and its excellent quality: Tuscan cuisine in general – and “Il troia” fully reflects it- is simple and genuine, made of amazing raw materials that made the Florentine steak famous all over the world, despite practically all the restaurants in the city that will say they prepare it, you must know that only a very few among them, make the real one.
Believe me, as much as the visit to the Uffizzi Gallery to admire Botticelli’s Venus, once in Florence the break at Sostanza’s, to enjoy the best steak of your life, is a must. But it is clear that “Il Troia”’s menu not only includes Chianina meat, for example, you absolutely must try even the typical “crostini” (toasted bread with cream), or “tortellini” (past in broth) as only old grandmothers in Florence can still do, but also “il bollito” (boiled meat) or the butter chicken with beans or all the other side dishes that tradition dictates. Their artichoke pie is so good than could deserve a separate chapter , and what about wine? The one placed on each table is amazing and perfect with the food that “Sostanza” offers.
Some last good advices: the restaurant is closed on Sunday, all the other days it should be better to book; remember that for the 2 for lunch and for the 10:30 at dinner, the kitchen closes and, finally, you’re not allowed to pay with credit card.
I don’t think there’s anything else I can add on, the only thing you have to do now is to try the experience of a meal at “Sostanza – Il troia” and I’m sure – as well as for all of those who have already been there – the dishes, the place and its fascinating story, will conquer you so much that you will desire to go back there every time you’ll be in Florence.