Our first day in Florence began where it should, at the Uffizi Gallery. Where else? I mean, why not start your day with some Michelangelo, Leonardo, Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, and more. But after spending a few hours walking at a snails pace and battling crowds with firmly but gently placed elbows, one builds up an appetite.
A few weeks before we left, I bumped into my friend David, a man known to enjoy a good meal or two in his time. “If you’re going to Florence, you have to go to Ringo’s,” he mandated. “It’s the best lunch in Florence.”
Outside tables at Ringo's
When you enter Ringo’s, located here, just steps from the Boboli Garden side of the Ponte Vechhio, you may ask yourself, “Am I in the right place? Can this tiny space dominated mostly by a kitchen and small bar by a temple of gastronomic pleasure?” Then, you are promptly (and politely) informed that this is a slow food establishment, and that if you are looking for a quick bite to eat, go eat elsewhere. And maybe the “Slow Food” sign helps too. This place means serious business.
Is this a gastronomic temple?
Ringo’s has been run my the same man, in the same way, for over 42 years. The maestro makes food one order at a time, using only fresh, local (he grows most of the veggies and herbs he uses) ingredients. He has been ably assisted for the past 20 years by his daughter, and with their back and forth banter in a typically expressive, Tuscan manner, gesticulating on each key word, forceful, passionate, respectful and loving all at once, you know that Ringo’s is more than a place to eat, it’s a family. Although it was empty when we entered at half past noon, we sat at the bar with the anticipation of a unique and extraordinary experience. And we were not disappointed.
Sasha and Il Maestro
Ringo’s is famous for his burgers; Roman-sized monsters of high-grade, fresh ground beef, simply grilled and topped with you choice of grilled onions and/or cheese. However, everything on the menu is extraordinary, including his daily pastas (only for 2), garden fresh salads, antipasta plates and desserts. Ringo is so protective of his food, he won’t let you over order. We had to come back twice (and very happily so) to try the breadth of his menu.
Botticelli's Primavera is a fitting image for Ringo's fresh focused cooking
Il Maestro at work
A simple amuse of grilled bread, fresh sliced heirloom tomato and a sharp, soft blue cheese
Garden fresh veggies ready for your plate
Veggie salad with cantalope, butter lettuce, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, basil, salt, pepper and Ringo's special mustard with extra virgin and aceto red wine vinegar served in a fish bowl
View from the top
A sandwich press, a stove top, and a grill; simple, well seasoned tools make simply delicious food
Ringo's pasta changes each day (or when he runs out of sauce)
Pasta is only served in portions for 2 people; On our vist the Daily Pasta was a tagliatelle in a cheesy sweet sausage ragu
Great hamburgers start with great meat, so fresh and flavorful Ringo doesn't even use salt
Every great hamburger joint needs special sauce...but Ringo's is the first mustard based special sauce I have ever had
Ringo hollow outs the bun top and fills it with ketchup; special mustard sauce goes on the bottom bun
Burgers on the grill...on the way to being eaten
And a radish on top makes it perfect...
A mild emmentaler completes the cheese version of Ringo's masterpiece
The best tiramisu I have ever eaten, bar NONE, comes served on the spoon
Ciao, Ringo; we can't wait to visit you again