Ten Tips on Fine Dining in Fashion Heaven à la Gucci
Despite the popular clichés of a Diet Coke and a pack of Marlboro, it’s no news that fashion and food are involved in one of the world’s greatest love affairs. But unlike Romeo and Juliet’s, this one doesn’t have a cataclysmic ending. Instead, the story escalates with The Forbidden Apple, a symphony of fruity notes in the form of a sophisticated, rose-shaped apple crumble. At least that’s the case if you’re sitting in one of the most romantic venues where food and fashion make love – the Gucci Osteria.
Originally opened in January 2018 as part of the brand’s renovated art gallery and retail destination Gucci Garden, the restaurant is one of Florence’s top eating spots, even though calling it just an eating spot would be a disastrous understatement. Walking into the 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia situated on the historic Piazza della Signoria, you’re welcomed by a smiling army of immaculately dressed Gucci ambassadors. Repping the brand with their preppy uniforms designed by Alessandro Michele, the staff of Gucci Garden are every part the little style fairies you want them to be. The Garden itself is separated into four parts – the brand’s boutique, carrying high luxury ready-to-wear and accessories; a bookshop-style room which not only sells a wide range of special edition brick-a-brack stamped with Gucci’s signature but also magazines and books that carefully curated by Michele himself. The third part is the actual gallery, which spreads across three floors and takes you through the century-long history of Gucci – from Guccio through Tom and Frida all the way to Alessandro. Organised thematically rather than chronologically, the exhibits trace back inspirations and archive pieces to their modern interpretations.
But we’re here for the food, so no time to waste on imaginary shopping or fashion history lessons. Put that Mickey Mouse-printed cross-body bag down, and head back to the ground floor towards Gucci Osteria. The restaurant, imagined by Marco Bizzari’s good friend and culinary superstar Massimo Bottura, has only 30 seats and is all about celebrating the relationship between the two fields by challenging the limits of senses. Taste, smell and sight collide within the experience of Osteria, as you embark on a tour around the world courtesy of their chef de cuisine Karime Lopéz.
Reflecting Michele’s style sensibilities in food form, Lopéz imagined an eclectic menu drawing inspiration from all corners of the globe. The menu has been such a success that it has recently garnered the restaurant its first Michelin star, putting it in the milieu of Tuscany’s gourmet highlights. In a sea of choices, Gucci Osteria’s ever-evolving five-course tasting menu perfectly encapsulates the message of the whole space. Opening with a trio of fragrant bites including fried dumplings and a beetroot ice-cream, the meal’s official starter is a Purple Corn Tostada with marinated bonito, avocado cream and radishes which represent an updated take on Lopéz’s own Mexican heritage. Next stop is Japan, with Autumn Memories, a mushroom broth over chawanmushi custard topped with herbs. With a parsnip and apple risotto named Chimney’s Rice, it’s now time to experience Italy, before hopping on a trans-Atlantic flight all the way to America for a mini version of the Emilia Burger. The chef’s take on a classic fast-food staple includes a patty in a mix of cotechino sausage and chianina meat, along with Parmigiano Reggiano, salsa verde and a luscious mayo. All served atop floral china (which you can then pick up at the Gucci merch shop inside the Garden), this is as fine as fine dining gets – and totally worth a flight to Florence.
You can book Michelin-starred Gucci Osteria in Florence via Opentable. Top illustration by Ryuto Miyake for Gucci.
Photographs courtesy of Gucci