Finally visited Vini & Olii, Gates Ave. at Cambridge Place (see link below), which a friend has been eagerly encouraging us to visit since its opening a month ago. A true winner, real genuine tuscan cooking, better than most of the plances in Florence on our last visit, within walking distance from home and at a moderate price. Amazing luck.
Set in former oldfashioned Lewis drug store, have retained and burnished old wood and glass cabinetry to a high standard. Owners and waitstaff are charming and friendly (ex-Balthazar but no attitude). Cooks imported direct from italy to be unpolluted by american tastes - indeed, salt levels were very low by US standards (unlike italy, salt was on the table)
But the food - real tuscan bread, delicate house made pastas (my pappardelle with rabbit stew was just superb, and friend's dish (fazzochietti?) with slightly larger sheets served with bits of zucchini, pistachios, etc. was also delish. With about 10 more interesting pasta dishes on the menu (and not a standard ragu or tomato sauce in sight) I eagerly anticipate trying some of the others, including a chestnut-based pasta, and severall filled pastas.
Interesting salads - my winter panzanella was ample and full of onions, husband enjoyed his gorgonzola and fig - a wide range of dishes "for the table" and first courses are available" Soups, including ribollita and a root vegetable soup were highly lauded by my friend. Roasted potatoes, deliciously seasoned with rosemary were a highlight.
Main courses (only 3 on our menu) my grilled chicken was absolutely correct - just this side of dry, as it usually is in Italy, in my experience - husband liked his lamb stew served in a crust of bread - I thought the crust and sauce was tasty - but he felt there could have been a better way of handling that lamb.
Serving sizes were moderate, as were prices, which we appreciated, because it was possible to put together a proper multicourse meal, often impossible with NY serving sizes and prices. The wine list was diverse and reasonably priced and the morell(in)o di scansano we had was delicious.
I believe the desserts may be superior too - but we were too full to try more than the complementary meringues (delicious!) presented with the check.
We will be back.