By Simone Bandini


In these times of unbridled homologation, what is difficult, especially in a thousand-year-old city like Florence, is to escape the temptation of compromise, of what one likes, of uniformity of taste. If you are looking for true Florentine cuisine, we recommend the cuisine of Giovanni di Pasquale who has condensed his singular enthusiasm for tradition into his three restaurants Antica Mescita (San Niccolò), Vecchia Osteria del Nacchero (Piazza Gavinana) and Naccherino (the latest creation in San Donato in Collina), rediscovering old gastronomic codes. With brilliant service and great value. We met him and had his classics prepared.


Oh ‘Nacchero’ (castanet)! It used to be said to Florentine boys to address them… Giovanni openly manifests this playful and irreverent spirit and is a pleasant, fun company in our evening at the Naccherino in San Donato in Collina.

Here he shows us the essence of his three restaurants: an informal and playful atmosphere, a shrewd and punctual service, a menu representative of traditional Florentine cuisine: “I too have been a ‘Nacchero’. I started in the dining room as a counter at the Osteria delle Belle Donne. I was 15 years old. The elites of the city came, they worked at a very fast pace. I used to create beautiful compositions with interlocking fruits and vegetables – it was my specialty,” he says.

“I gained experience in the past years, until, in 2008, I began to try my hand at cooking in the morning preparations, and then being at the service of the dining room, in the evening”, his is a rare humility in telling his story. Then his entrepreneurial adventure began: “In 2015 I took over the same ‘Vecchia Osteria del Nacchero’. They asked me to be the ‘Manager’ and, in the end, I ended up buying it!” Ҫa va sans dire, in 2018 he took from a historic family in Florence another restaurant in the working-class district of San Niccolò, ‘L’Antica Mescita’ and finally, in December 2023, he opened his ‘Naccherino’, a direct offshoot of the noble restaurant in Piazza Gavinana.

Those who know him well, know that Giovanni is a nature lover and lives with two horses, five dogs and a cat in a house in the woods on the Florentine hills. A great mushroom hunter, he is also a passionate truffle finder – his wife Annalisa, who supports him in administrative and accounting management, has even obtained the permit for the search! “A mountain lover, when things don’t go my way, I get on the saddle and light a cigar. So I spend an hour walking with my horse and everything magically works out,” he continues. But let’s get to the kitchen. His dining room brigade keeps us company and so, between one joke and another, it’s already time to enjoy his signature dishes.

The first two appetizers arrive, the ‘Anchovies with butter and toast’, very delicate thanks to an excellent marinade and accompanied by a tasty parsley pesto which, we will discover, is nothing more than a green sauce mixed with egg and vinegar. Serve with warm, crispy bread; then the ‘Marinated herring with all Tuscan flavours‘ which stages a fun game between sweet hints of the sea and strong notes of earth and spice of Tuscan mince, in particular onion and peppercorns.

We decided to take a red Merlot: a 2012 Bolgheri ‘Aya’ Doc. A nice toast with my diner introduces us to the first courses: the ‘Pappardelle sul cinghiale’ – and the proposition is not wrong, given the amount of game bites I find on the plate – are a great re-edition of Tuscan cuisine. A very wide cut for the pappardelle that well assimilates the flavour of the sauce. Reduction in white wine and black olives to reach the perfect balance.

The ‘Paccheri alla pomarola e burrata’ is a colourful dish that fills the eye and the heart, with a truly Italic identity, a persuasive blend that welcomes the summer. The play of temperatures on the plate is curious, a swing of energy and freshness.

For us carnivores, after all, the greatest expectations are placed on the main courses. Which do not disappoint, indeed: after having brought us just a taste of his famous ‘Roast-beef cooked Florentine style’, with crispy browning and very tender breasts, we come to the other mains, two classics of the city’s cuisine: ‘L’Ossobuco alla Fiorentina’, which I literally adore and eat like a child, garnished with a very generous topping of simple pomarola and with all the herbs – and the ‘Baccalà alla Livornese’, Another typical Tuscan dish, very delicate to the bite, long and well-treated and therefore balanced in flavour, with slightly spicy parsley tomato sauce. Very fine!

As if that weren’t enough, Giovanni wants us to taste two desserts, strictly home-made: the ‘Pear and chocolate cake‘ and the ‘Chocolate cake with a warm heart’ which, as in a Beethoven symphony, complete the choral effect of a perfect dinner, in the whole and in the detail.



– Osteria Il Naccherino / Via San Donato 25, San Donato in Collina (Fi) / Tel. 055 699250

– Vecchia Osteria del Nacchero, Piazza Gavinana 3-4/r, Florence / Tel. 055 6587058 /

– Osteria Antica Mescita, Via San Niccolò 60/r, Florence / Tel. 055 2342836 /