Trattoria Zà Zà Firenze | My Last Meal in Florence
The thick shutters looking out onto Ricasoli let in a breeze and the noise from the Piazza del Duomo. I folded my clothes and maps, packed my souvenirs into my carry-on, and noted all of my chargers and belongings. Organized piles lined the plastic tablecloth of the small kitchen table.
Despite four full days of exploring Florence, I wasn’t ready to leave. I loved my apartment’s quiet mornings — listening to the city awaken: first with the slam of a cab door, then yawning and humming with the harmony of Vespa horns, footsteps, and languages bouncing off the architecture.
I had unfinished business with Florence, both as a writer and explorer — but the sun was setting and I felt the time counting down to my morning cab. I charged my camera and laid out my outfit for the next morning. My host, Azadeh ordered me a cab for 4:00 am. Just like in Amsterdam, I would awake at an insane hour to get to the airport.
My Last Meal in Florence
Between Azadeh’s welcome packet of recommendations and an hour of Googling, I found a restaurant worthy of my final Florence meal. I plugged the address into my GPS and strolled towards my destination.
Trattoria Zà Zà
I remember walking on a slanted stone sidewalk. It was a narrow path between the open restaurant fronts and the outdoor patios. It was dark now, but lights strung over the patios and the open doors of the business brightened the streets.
Zà Zà’s giant patio is what caught my attention, so I didn’t walk past its small front doors. When I entered and saw their decor, I thought: How can I forget this? (Check out their Instagram to see their decor).
I was led towards the back dining room and up a few steps, to a two-top table against the wall.
Decorative drapes of thick fabric hung from the wall on my right. Half-washed yellow and blue painted walls looked like stucco or stone.
There was a chandelier above my head and horizontally laid floors made of thin wood. A bronze bust of a man glowed from the highest beam in the corner of the room. He was a little spooky.
My chair was spectacularly comfortable with cream cushions and a curved back. My napkin was red and fabric – the first cloth-napkin I had in Florence (which I prefer).
If the decor and atmosphere was any indication to the food, this was going to be a great meal.
Trattoria Zà Zà Menu
Zà Zà’s menu had several large pages in a soft green cover. Flipping through the long lists of dishes made me wish I had found Zà Zà sooner. I saw unique pasta dishes, seafood entrees, and appetizers I would’ve loved to order. There were so many dishes to choose from, I could’ve eaten a new dish every day of my vacation and still have items to try.
Zà Zà’s “Smart” menu also impressed me. By downloading and scanning this bar code, guests could access the menu in several languages.
For my appetizer, I wanted to have two unique items — one preferably seafood related and another something I never had before.
As for my entree, I asked the waiter to help me choose between two seafood dishes. He didn’t seem particularly confident in one over the other. So here is what I had:
Fried Corn Polenta with Porcini* Mushrooms and Liver Pâté
When the polenta appetizer was placed in front of me I thought: Is this correct?
For whatever reason, when I read “fried corn polenta” I thought these would be like fritters mixed with mushrooms. I was surprised when a large plate arrived in front of me, with four slices of fried polenta — two piled with mushrooms and two smeared with liver pâté.
Since this was the warm appetizer I decided to eat it first. I sliced a small corner of the polenta. Unfortunately, it seemed over-fried since the interior of the slice (which I expected to have some sort of smooth texture), was dry like a hollowed-out hash-brown.
Porcini mushrooms were piled on top of this first piece. I was hesitant about ordering this appetizer because of the asterisk on the menu that read: *Frozen product in the absence of fresh. I didn’t want frozen mushrooms — but I hoped that I would receive fresh.
I tried a mushroom on its own…mind-blown. These were the best mushrooms I ever had in my life. They were soft, buttery, and smooth (probably sautéed in some wine and herbs). I knew they had to be fresh.
I picked all of the mushrooms off of the top of the polenta and ate them on their own. They were fabulous.
Next was the liver pâté. I never had this before and knew it was a polarizing ingredient. I decided to try it anyway — taking the corner of the polenta with a bit of the pâté.
I popped it in my mouth. This isn’t that bad, I thought.
But as I continued to chew, the flavor became meatier and gamier and the grainy texture coated my tongue.
No — no…I did not like this. I guzzled water to force the pâté down. Very rarely do I have such a strong reaction to food but liver pâté was a no-go for me. I pushed the other pieces to the side, since I wouldn’t be finishing them.
I tested the other four polenta squares to see if they had any more moisture to them. One did have a creamier filling, but not enough for me to eat anymore. I moved onto the salmon crostone.
Crostone with Smoked Salmon
Forgive the dark lighting, but as you can see from the size of the crostone, it was damn near impossible to eat: Do I eat it like a sandwich? I thought. Do I cut it with my knife and fork? I opted for the knife and fork, but the bread was still too thick and dry to cut, even with a steak knife.
The bread had a smoky grilled flavor. It was a slice about four inches long — almost the size of what you would have for breakfast with avocado toast.
There were several salmon layers, which I thought was generous. The salmon was room-temperature instead of cold, which was unexpected.
In the end, I gave up on the bread and ate the salmon. It was high-quality and dissolved without any toughness. I was impressed.
The waiter stopped by and gave me olive oil. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to pour it over the salmon and all, so I tested a bit on the plate with my leftover crostone. The olive oil was not as impressive as Osteria Pastella, so I decided to save my calories for my entree.
The Atmosphere and Guests
Considering all the red wine I tried in Florence, for my last meal I ordered white. I asked for one glass of the house white, rather than opening the bottle on my table.
I found that this wine was sweeter and mellow. Though after a few sips in between my appetizers I thought: This is going to give me a hangover. I could feel the burn/re-flux all the way down my esophagus. I decided to stick with my sparkling water instead.
For once, there is a reasonable delay between my appetizer and dinner, which I was grateful for. I was trying to get that liver texture out of my mind.
As I sipped my water, I noticed that Florence (like Amsterdam) must have a love for U.S. pop-songs, as Niki Minaj’s Super Bass played throughout the room. It was strange.
A young couple at the top-top table to my left texted and didn’t speak to one another. Across the room to my left was a family of six with a young child. They were debating what dish to order. The one girl kept repeating to the waiter, “But what do you recommend?” Clearly she didn’t know what to order either.
The room behind them stretched back with several more group tables. I was glad they sat me against the wall at the two-top. Since it was near the stairs, the waiters passed me as they delivered food from the kitchen. I saw a number of dishes that I would’ve eaten.
Sautéed Prawns with Garlic, Spring Onion, and Fresh Truffles
I was hyped when my entree finally arrived. Zà Zà’s portion sizes were perfect and I was thrilled to try this truffle sauce.
GARLIC — finally some garlic!
Up until this point, I hadn’t realized that the dishes I had in Florence didn’t use garlic. Or if they did, there was hardly enough for me to notice…but this dish did! Right away I could smell the rich flavors — I loved it.
The sauce tasted like magic. The truffles are hard to describe, since this is my first time having them. They were thin — with a textured surface that was able to breakdown with each bite.
The prawns were decently sized and cut like butter. They were so tender and rich, coated in the garlic-herb sauce. I assumed 90% of this sauce was butter and the rest was the spices.
€22 for 9 prawns with truffles was a reasonable price for me. I loved the sauce so much I wish it came over pasta or vegetables or something. I did use my plain basket of Florentine bread to dip in the sauce, and that was amazing.
Trattoria Zà Zà | 8 out of 10
I left 2 ½ shrimp on the plate by the end of my meal. It was too rich to finish. Plus, I knew I wanted to have dessert at one more location before I left Florence.
A new waitress took over my table and brought me the check. Bilando played across the restaurant as I waited for her to run it and bring it back.
I highly recommend visiting Trattoria Zà Zà especially if you want a variety of options from a unique restaurant. By far, Trattoria Zà Zà has built a stand-out brand in Florence and offers high-quality dishes to its guests.
Don Nino | Dessert Course
I walked back to the end of Ricasoli, to the cafe where I bought my gelato. This time, rather than ordering from the sidewalk, I stepped into the whimsical dining room to peruse the pastry display.
While I planned on ordering a cappuccino and a gelato, I changed my mind after seeing the pastry case. I thought: What the hell, I’m going to order everything.
I skipped to coffee and pointed as the women behind the counter packaged my desserts. She handed me the tiramisu on a plate with a small fork. The cannoli and macaroon came in a paper bag.
I balanced my desserts (along with my purse, camera, and phone) and walked outside to their white patio set. I ate the tiramisu in front of the cathedral, watching the people stroll by. An older couple drinking espressos near me were listening to their grown-children persuade them to join them for drinks.
Ricotta Cannoli with Pistachios
I’ve never had a cannoli as delicious as this one. Its shell was so dark I almost wondered if it was burnt. Compared to the light cream shells I see at home — this cannoli was dark brown, but it was perfect. The shell must have been made fresh as it was crunchy and buttery.
The ricotta cream was light and airy. I was asked if I wanted it dipped in hazelnuts or pistachios. I’ve never been offered that option so I went with the default — pistachio — though I’m sure hazelnut would’ve been amazing.
Tiramisu and a Coffee-Macaroon
Tiramisu isn’t my favorite dessert — but I wanted to try one from Italy. The emphasis of this dessert was its textures. The bottom is the moist, espresso-soaked ladyfingers.
The thick layer for most of my tiramisu, is what I consider a chocolate mousse (or maybe mascarpone?). It was topped with cocoa powder and overall was a savory, not overly sweet flavor. My favorite part was a layer of chocolate fudge in the middle.
I kept my coffee macaroon wrapped for my flight home.
Back to Amsterdam
I moseyed down Ricasoli. It was a perfect night as my cardigan was enough to keep me warm. The evening was quiet, nothing like the crazy partying from Saturday night.
I enjoyed the light from the restaurants streaming onto the cobblestone streets. I tried to memorize the architecture. I noted the occasional groups as they stepped out from the expensive leather shop on the end of the street, and the girls who giggled in front of the post cards at the souvenir shop.
I easily unlocked my front door, juggling my bags and goodies as I heaved open the wooden door and stepped into the empty foyer.
When I climbed into bed, finally settled and organized for my morning flight, I ignored the arguing from my Australian neighbors, turned off the TV with its Italian game-show, and listened for the noises of the city as it lulled me to sleep.
Thank you for following my journey and reflections from my first trip abroad. It was such an amazing experience — and I found more and more memories by sharing my writings with you.
I may share a bonus post about my journey home, if you’re interested in reading a small review from a town in Amsterdam. If not, I’ll leave the journey here.
Thank you again for reading and feel free to comment with your thoughts.