Irene Firenze by Chef Fulvio Pierangelini

Left to Right: Paul Feakes, Fulvio Pierangelini and Giovanni Cosmai. Photo © Irene Firenze

Left to Right: Paul Feakes, Fulvio Pierangelini and Giovanni Cosmai. Photo © Irene Firenze

Nonna Irene is the key player behind this beautiful, revamped restaurant in the embellished Piazza della Repubblica, at the heart of Florence city. Irene was Sir Rocco Forte's grandmother, whose extended success has accounted for 10 luxury hotels in Italy and the rest of Europe. The restaurant has been sky rocketing to success since its inauguration earlier this year, making a mark in Florence's fine dining food scene.

In all its suaveness, this bistro looks like something shot out of a 1950's 'Mad Men' era, having natural linen garments serenading the space, high ceilings with colourful mass barrel-shaped lamps. The outdoor space is chic, with views of passerbys walking through the elegant square as you eat, drink and relax among locals and visitors. The team at Irene - Lydia Forte (Development Manager), her aunt Olga Polizzi (Design Director of Rocco Forte Hotels), Felice Limosani (Art Director), Chef Fulvio Pierangelini (Director of Food), Giovanni Cosmai (Head Chef) and the charismatic Paul Feakes (Restaurant Manager) have all developed a personable touch to the restaurant, honouring Irene's history by portraying some of her favourite objects and fine tunes. 

Indulge in the food, as Irene has taken a more feminine and sophisticated approach. Just as she originally liked, you will experience some of the best locally sourced, seasonal produce from the Tuscan countryside. Chef Fulvio (known for his amazing two Michelin-starred restaurant, Gambero Rosso in San Vincenzo) has been working side by side with the restaurant's head chef Giovanni Cosmai, to offer a menu based cuisine rich with Tuscan classics and some fusion dishes. Expect more light dishes and a delicate play with ingredients.

For primi, we tried the fried calamari with vegetables that included zucchini flowers in them. It was a great way to begin the meal with a glass of a fruit flavoured prosecco. For secondi, we opted for the beef fillet cooked with Tuscan herbs on a Himalayan salt stone and a risotto dish with San Gimignano saffron, shrimps and pistachio. We cherished a caramelised cream with lavender and tiramisu for the dolce, and loved every bite. 

The bar in Irene offers classic cocktails presented elegantly by their waiters. Wines by the glass are poured from retro-style carafes and prosecco is served in original 1950's coupe glasses. Be sure to have a drink here: an afternoon snack, an aperitivo before dinner or even a late night tidbit to experience the Florentine way of life.

Irene at Hotel Savoy | Tuscan Bistro with dishes created by Fulvio Pierangelini | Prices: stylish business lunch, there are one, two or three courses for €15, €20, €25, in addition to the general a la carte menu | Mon - Sun 12:30 - 10:30 pm | Address: Piazza della Repubblica 7, Florence, Italy 50123 irenefirenze@roccofortehotels.com | Website 

Tasty fried calamari with vegetables and sweet and sour sauce.

Tasty fried calamari with vegetables and sweet and sour sauce.

Pick your best seat, cooking is made with 'amore' here. 

Pick your best seat, cooking is made with 'amore' here. 

Beef fillet cooked with Tuscan herbs on a Himalayan salt stone.

Beef fillet cooked with Tuscan herbs on a Himalayan salt stone.

Dine in this internationally known bistro at the heart of Florence. 

Dine in this internationally known bistro at the heart of Florence.