Agricola Toscana | The Search for Homemade Pasta
After climbing the Duomo I decided to take a lunch break. With only two meals left in Florence, I knew I wanted to try homemade Italian pasta.
Since I didn’t order pasta at Gustavino Duomo Firenze, I wandered the streets past the cathedral, stopping to read the outdoor menus. Most restaurants offered identical pasta entrees: How would I know which was better?
It was becoming less likely that I would meet my lunch goal – until I came across one restaurant offering pasta specials: Agricola Toscana.
Like the other restaurants I visited, Agricola Toscana was a long, thin room. Built-in wooden booths lined the right-hand wall. Tables for larger groups were closer to the window. I was seated against the wall at the end of the booth.
Agricola Toscana Interior
The restaurant interior was classic Italian — simple cream walls and large, diamond-shaped floor tiles the color of Spanish clay. My table was directly across from the counter and register. Bottles of wine lined the shelves and wall behind it.
A long glass case filled the rest of the space. The left-hand corner of the case had dried meats. Vines of tomatoes sat on the top shelf with pears, oranges, and lemons. Giant half-wheels of cheese and their smaller triangles filled the rest of the case.
The Menu and Specials
Since I enjoyed the Prosecco from Osteria Pastella, I decided to order it again. During my trip I also developed a love for sparkling water, so I ordered a large bottle alongside the Prosecco.
I don’t really remember Aricola’s menu since I was only searching for pasta. They don’t appear to have an online website, so you can review this menu from The Fork.
By the end of my trip in Florence, I also learned that eating several courses is the norm. The Fork’s online menu reminded me of this. The menu structure suggests that the courses are as follows: Appetizer, first course (pasta), second course (entree), Pizza entree (as an alternate option), dessert.
I guess it was strange that for the first time during my trip, I skipped an appetizer and only ordered the first course (the pasta dish).
Agricola Toscana Pasta Courses
As seen on the digital menu, the everyday pasta courses are:
Spaghetti with tomato and basil
Fusilli pesto and cherry tomatoes
Tagliatelle all'uovo (fresh pasta) with meat sauce
Spaghetti with carbonara
Lasagne with Meat Sauce
Ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach with butter and sage
Pici with sausage and truffle cream
Recipe number 7 caught my attention because of the truffle cream sauce. But since I was searching for fresh pasta and only dish number 3 actually listed the word “fresh” my options were limited. I wasn’t sure which pasta dish to order or if I should switch to something completely different.
When the waitress told me the lunch specials, I finally found a dish that was worth trying: pappardelle with wild boar sauce.
“Is that pasta homemade?” I asked.
“It’s made fresh, yes.”
“Okay, I’ll have the pappardelle.”
It was only after I ordered the dish that I realized the waitress said “fresh” and not “homemade.” The waiter at Gustavino used the same language while describing their pasta.
I hoped that what I ordered would be authentic and as close to scratch/homemade as possible.
The Lunch Crowd
The restaurant filled up once I received my entree, which was great timing for me!
Next to me was a couple who had just finished shopping. They stacked their pink and cream fabric bags in between us on the bench. The husband looked like he was from the Jersey Shore cast.
To the left of this couple, the waitress discussed the lunch specials with a table of four. She told this group that the specials for the day were a T-bone steak or pasta with pesto and walnuts. I made a note that I received a different list of specials, which I thought was strange.
A large table took up the front window. A mother-daughter pair came in and hung near the counter. The waitress in charge of the wine and cheese platters knew them and offered glasses of red wine and slices of prosciutto.
The busier the dining room got, the more people came in from off the street. The front windows of the restaurant invited shoppers from the sidewalk.
For the most part, I was left alone to enjoy my dish. As I noted in my Amsterdam dinner review, the soundtrack in Agricola Toscana was Lady Gaga and a combination of rap music from 2009. I wondered if this was really something Florentines listened to or if it was just background noise.
Pappardelle with Wild Boar Sauce
The portion of pasta is to be expected, presumably because this is a first course and you’re supposed to have another entree after this. I loved the white bowl that it arrived in and overall the presentation was thoughtfully done.
I thought this portion was more than enough for lunch. I was also planning on having a several course dinner, so I thought this was a great size to hold me over..
Now — when I first picked this restaurant, I was thinking that fresh = homemade. This is not always the case and “homemade” can have a different texture and taste than “fresh.”
So here’s the question: If you find no apparent difference in the pasta you receive, is it really homemade/fresh?
I’m not a pasta expert, but I do remember one instance (at a restaurant in Florida, no less), of eating homemade pasta. I knew from my first forkful that it was spectacular — unlike any pasta I had ever had before and that was in Florida — Italian pasta should be even more amazing!
So Argicola can correct me if I’m wrong. I couldn’t tell from my dish if my pasta was: made in advance and then cooked to order, bought from another company and served, or made-to-order from scratch.
The pappardelle was cooked al dente and its noodle-width reminded me of the Drunken Noodles from Khao Tip. I found it to be a satisfying and hearty portion.
The Wild Boar Sauce
I was more impressed with the “meat sauce.” Sometimes restaurants make their sauce too lemony. Yes, you read that correctly, I’ve had meat sauce / red sauce that had a lemony aftertaste, which I am not a fan of.
Based on what I’ve grown up with, I love sweeter meat sauce with rich flavors like onion, garlic, basil, etc. This wild boar sauce reminded me of my family’s cooking style.
The unique part of this dish, which is why I ordered it, was the wild boar protein. I saw wild boar listed on multiple menus in Florence, so it must be a regional ingredient.
The texture reminded me of tender stew meat. The pieces in my sauce were small cubes with a layer of fat. I did not find the flavor to be strange or different in any way compared with other proteins I’ve had. So I would recommend even picky-eaters to try a sauce with wild boar. You probably won’t be able to tell the difference!
An unexpected ingredient worth noting in this sauce, was what appeared to be diced pieces of sautéed cabbage. I wasn’t too shocked to find a vegetable in meat sauce, as an Italian family friend makes a recipe of tomato sauce and cabbage served with bread. The addition of cabbage in this meat sauce mirrored a familiar recipe for me.
Homemade Pasta: 6 out of 10
Overall, I will say that my wild boar dish at Argicola Toscana was made well and presented beautifully. There was nothing wrong with the dish that I ordered. Based on my own expectations and past dining experiences, I had a different mindset for trying pasta in Florence.
The next time I visit, I hope to sample multiple pastas, sauces, and combinations to provide a better scope of Florentine dishes. In total, my pasta and drink came to €20. I would go back to Agricola Toscana to try their cheese platters and other dishes.
Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
After my lunch at Argicola Toscana, I went back towards the cathedral to the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. My tickets to climb the Duomo and Bell Tower also gave me access to this museum. I spent a few hours wandering its rooms.
I watched a documentary about the building of the Duomo. The museum had replicas of the Duomo’s structure, examples of the tools (which you cannot believe people actually used), as well as the Duomo’s first sketches.
I would recommend visiting this museum before climbing the Duomo, as you’ll have a new appreciation for its complexity and beauty.
The museum was quiet and not over-crowded, which I enjoyed spending the afternoon exploring.
The Final Dinner Review
It’s been a journey sharing my reviews from Amsterdam and Florence. Are you ready for the final dinner review? Stay tuned for my last meal in Florence!