Restaurants & Bars 26

Tuscan Coast

allende | Sep 23, 201106:02 AM

We’ve been going to Lorenzo, in Forte dei Marmi, for almost 30 years, probably 15 times, ever since the late great restaurateur, Sauro Brunicardi of La Mora in Ponte a Moriano near Lucca, first took us there.

We hadn’t been there in four or five years even though we live just a few blocks away.

Eight of us went for lunch yesterday. Simply spectacular meal. Lorenzo Viani has always been the consummate host, looking to make sure your meal is very enjoyable. He does it with a mixture professionalism, friendliness, courtesy and warmth, day after day. He and the restaurant continue to be at the top of “their” game” and at the top of the restaurants we enjoy in Italy.

Lunch was everything a great meal should be. Absolutely first rate ingredients (none better), very skillful cooking, an excellent extensive menu (both fish and terra, although most people go for fish), a world class wine list, superb service (professional, but informal, and unobtrusive) extremely comfortable restaurant, a friendly relaxed atmosphere.

The food was everything that great food should be, and it is doubly more impressive that this was a Tuscan meal. IMO, there are only two truly outstanding restaurants in Tuscany. Here is one of them and it is deceptively outstanding because of the nature of Tuscan food. Tuscan food at its best is simple, very simple. Most visitors do not understand that. I’ve seen one well known food snob’s blog which said about a certain restaurant something like “that was really excellent but nothing I couldn’t do.” Well first you have to have the ingredients, then you have to have the skill, then you have to understand that less is more; he didn't have any of those things. You come out of Lorenzo saying that was a great meal, but it is hard to put your finger on what made it great and, of course, that’s what made it great.

The ingredients of the dishes are so extraordinary, and so skillfully prepared, that one person at our table tasted (one of) the calamari al forno (one of the restaurant's signature dishes) that I had as my main course, and promptly asked if she could order a second secondo of the same because the calamaro she had had, was one of the best things she had ever eaten. Ever, which was quite a statement for someone who knows her food.

Among the dishes we had were an exquisite risotto with fish and shellfish (for two); bavette con scampetti, sparnocchi, totani, seppioline e gamberi bianchi; ravioli ripieno di branzino (light as could be pasta with a strong filling); calmarata con broccoletti e pesce di fondale; and for a number at the table pesce nero, which Lorenzo said we had never seen before, and he was correct, and you rarely see it, and it was superb, and he was correct on that as well. Excellent desserts (I had the Sfera di guanaja farcita di bavarese
profumata al cardamomo, salsa di agrumi e amarena).

And, of course, a few fantastic amuses (oh, those tiny lightly fried translucent gamberi bianchi!), thrown in, at the beginning of the meal while you wait for your first course.

Lorenzo has been and continues to be a very special place. Very few in Italy know how to do what Lorenzo is doing. Expensive, but well worth it. Go!!!

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