I must admit a past ignorance towards Gurdulù. Although the restaurant opened in 2015, I didn’t come across it until Florence Cocktail Week in April 2016, of which the adjoined cocktail bar, headed up by the talented Sabrina Galloni, were a part. At first glance it looked, save for a nod to a Parisian brasserie, with its elegant, brass and dark wood interior, like one of the typical, albeit new breed, of Florentine restaurants – a little like a boutique La Ménagère from across town. On closer inspection however, I found a pleasant, perhaps even romantic restaurant, true to its Florentine roots, but glittering with outside influences from the Balkans and beyond.
Gurdulù, though popular is yet to reach the nightly bursting point that many a restaurant in Florence suffer from, though I assume this will change when word reaches yet further afield. The atmosphere is nice enough, though the open kitchen on one side of the restaurant enhances the anticipation of indulgence, while dampening the romance I spoke of earlier. Though it’s always nice to watch a creation come to life.
We were served a somewhat bland mousse, topped with a slice of radish and pieces of beef as amuse bouche, before quickly moving onto our first plates. My wife ordered a plate of tasty anchovy spaghetti in a generous portion, coated with garlic, and rather surprisingly topped with dill (a rare commodity in Florence), while I had a plate of “Ravioli H20” which was layered with shaved pecorino atop and filled with a softer pecorino inside the ravioli – each from Sicily, making for a genuinely delicious concoction of soft vegetarian layers.
We enjoyed a moment out in the courtyard, which will presumably serve as al fresco seating on hotter evenings, before moving on to our mains. I had, accidentally keeping to an almost entirely vegetarian diet for the evening, a thick and creamy risotto, flavoured with saffron and finished with courgette flowers in tempura – an intriguing dish with light flavours. The courgette flowers were a lesson in tempura – I wasn’t sure if the delicate flowers would suit the rigid flavours of tempura but I was wrong. The flavours melded wonderfully and proved to be the most memorable dish of the night. The second main came in the form of steak tagliatelle, served with mash potatoes and asparagus. The meat was soft and coated with a thick gravy made from the juices of the beef, and served as an exceptional detour from the usual Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
I wasn’t at all taken by the dessert menu which felt uninspired especially when compared with the main menu, which though small covers a greater breadth than one would believe when faced with the dessert selection. We settled on a shared dessert of fruits and pastry which was edible, though a little bitter. We paired everything with a Jean Chauvenet Burgundy of 2012 vintage, which faired well against the competing flavours on offer, and was light enough to mix well with the courgette flower tempura.
As with every single restaurant in Florence, Gurdulù, gets plenty of contrasting opinion, and unfortunately, the hype as seen around the internet, doesn’t quite match the reality. As such, Tripadvior is full of negativity for the restaurant, mostly down to the hype and high expectations propped up by the reviews of (mostly foreign) locals who are eager to love every new venture in the city, as though it were their own.
Don’t misunderstand, this is a good restaurant with some delicious dishes and good ideas, but something doesn’t quite feel right yet. I’ll be looking forward to seeing where its seasonal menus go in future incarnations, but for now, guard yourself against both the hype and the disappointment and try it for yourself. Perhaps head to the bar for a cocktail (cocktails at Gurdulù are very good) to scope it out a little as we did, but remember, Gurdulù is one of many new kids on the Florentine block and as such, it’s trying a little harder, and stretching a little, perhaps, beyond it’s reach. However, I do believe that it is one of the new restaurants to look out for in the coming year, as the restaurant scene in Florence continues to (try to) explode.