Il Santo Bevitore Restaurant Review
Il Santo Bevitore is typical of the nuovo of Florentine restaurants. A large, dimly lit open space with a few nooks and a couple of long tables to satiate the Italian love for eating together in big groups. This, by the way, is why one should always take Tripadvisor reviews with a teaspoon of salt. Especially reviews that sell restaurants such as Il Santo Bevitore as romantic and charming. It’s a pretty restaurant, but a bit too busy to be romantic.
Of course if you find a candlelit dinner with the endless cacophony of children and the intriguing though chaotic discordance of 10 different languages shouted throughout the night to be romantic, then by all means, whisk, wine and dine your way through it all and buy a rose when the sometimes inattentive (though generally rather good) staff a middle-aged flower seller in the restaurant to sell it to you.
We began our endeavours with Il Santo Bevitore with a last minute reservation for an outside seat that almost landed us in a puddle from the leftover summer rains that left their reflections on the Via di Santo Spirito. There are a couple of nice al fresco tables here but the ones next to the door aren’t included. However, the restaurant kindly accommodated our decision to move to the busy interior.
The menus on first glance are what one would expect – steak here, gnocchi there, but the plates are a little more involved with light touches that elevate each dish away from the cliches of Italian cooking and into a younger, more playful not to modernity. But these elements are only elements, such as experimental ingredients and light deviations from what is considered normal Tuscan culinary practise (try Gurdulù for something a little more daring).
Head chef Pierluigi Campi, occasionally plays it safe, especially on the mains, though the menu at Il Santo Bevitore is ever-changing so by all means let me know if you’ve had better experiences.
We skipped starters and moved straight to our pasta dishes. The gnocchi, served dill and a little mint, were of a delightfully fluffy texture and the accompaniments were light and fresh to the taste. The handmade riccioli was simply wonderful with spicy, Calabrian ‘Nduja and a generous topping of aged Pecorino.
For mains we enjoyed a lamb shank, served in a gravy of its own juices and a steak, which was served tender and medium rare. Charcoaled, though not as heavily as the traditional Florentine steak, and pinkish red in the middle. The accompanying mushrooms and potatoes were doused in the meat’s gravy, creating a delicious, though rather simple, and possibly too safe a take on the mighty Florentine steak.
Desserts are quite good and aesthetically pleasing, which is always nice after a bottle of local red. We shared a couple of desserts, one a forgettable iced offering, and the other a mascarpone cream topped with strawberries – which, though slightly too sparing on the mascarpone, was a good end to a well-rounded dinner.