I have been to Italy twice in my life, once when I was 17 with my fellow high school students and once when I was 24 with my family. As you can imagine, both trips served very different purposes.
The first time I touched ground in the land of pasta, I solely focused on seeing all of the historical ruins, landmarks, artwork, statues and museums. The second time I traveled there, much of my trip was dedicated to wine and pizza. During my most recent trip, I visited Venice, Florence and Rome. Venice is absolutely beautiful, but land traveling works better than water traveling, at least for me. Then we made our way to Florence. Ahhhh Florence. This was the second time I had been to Florence and it is still my favorite city (for now, as I still have lots of traveling to do!).
I thought Florence couldn’t get any better until a friend recommended Ringo’s Bar. She went on and on about how they have the best burger I will ever have. I had to pause and rethink what she had said. Best burger? In Italy? I was intrigued, but I wasn’t getting my hopes up because I was pretty satisfied with having the best pizza I will ever have while I was there. So I got a map, yes, a real map, the address and maneuvered my way over Ponte Vecchio to, what I found out to be, the best burger I have ever had.
Walking down a narrow road, there is a tiny marquee sign advertising hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs (just like a local hot dog stand in the states)! The bar itself is somewhat modern with sheet metal lining the walls and one small cooking station (where the magic happens). The outside seating is right off of the streets of Florence as cars and Vespas speed by. It is not the fastest service, but well worth the wait, as they bring a plate with nothing but a burger held together by a toothpick. In fact, The Chopping Block and Ringo’s Bar have quite a bit in common as we are both celebrating huge anniversaries. Ringo’s Bar celebrated their 50 year anniversary last November. 50 years of having the best burgers in Florence is some record! As many of you may already know The Chopping Block is celebrating its 20 year anniversary this month.
I realize I should be telling you about the delicious Bolognese, gelato and bruschetta I had while on my vacation, but this burger couldn’t be beat! I feel as though Italian food quickly gets lumped into one culinary boat of pasta and pizza. After my latest visit, I realized regionally, Italian food does convey different flavors as you travel from Northern Italy to Southern Italy. In Rome everything had pancetta in it: pizza, pasta, chicken dishes, literally everything! In Florence, it was all about the meat. I was able to try the Florentine Steak, which was of course delicious, and also very large!
In Venice, the food was more traditional Italian, which I liked. I had Bolognese, lots of fish, risotto and tiramisu! It was nice to have a variety of fresh flavors and traditional dishes to choose from.
Thanks to Chef Lisa Counts, everyone can enjoy these flavors of Venice with her Chef’s Dinner: Italian Cicchetti coming up next Tuesday at the The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location. Come and enjoy this family-style chef dinner and reward your palette with arancini, calzones, Limoncello and much much more!