You might have met Francesco Lenzi during his stints at Opus or Medici (Hotel Muse). He’s friendly, he’s talented, and it was only a matter of time before he got his own Italian restaurant. Well, this is it. Ochre walls, dark wood columns, oxblood tufted leather seats—the place is as conventional as can be. The food, too, is aiming for tradition, regionalism and authenticity. But Lenzi Tuscan Kitchen is so satisfying we’d never call it boring.
Meals often start with the tagliere del Lenzi, a board covered in cold cuts (B480/850/1,580), many of which are sourced from Francesco Lenzi’s uncle’s small-scale ham curing business, Antica Norcineria, founded 1945. The lardo, black pudding and mortadella with truffle are melt-in-your mouth bursts of umami—addictive.
Next up, pasta comes in all kinds of mouth-watering recipes, from the rich, creamy gnocchi with gorgonzola, pear, walnuts and aged balsamic (B450), to the meaty wild boar ragu (B420), to the decadent homemade ravioli stuffed with French foie gras and ricotta cheese in truffle emulsion (B580).
Lenzi’s pride and joy, though, is his woodfired oven. And that’s where to look for some of his signature dishes. The Norwegian cod fish cooked with capers, anchovy and tomato sauce with grilled polenta (B1,200) is an expensive but incredibly flavorful combo. For something heartier (and more affordable), you can’t go wrong with the “drunken” sausage stew with borlotti beans and tomato sauce (B650).
Dessert, too, can come from il forno: we highly recommend the baked pear with chocolate ice cream and sabayon sauce (B280). We really appreciate the wine menu, too, which singles out a few of its wines as being “good,” “very good,” or “extraordinary”—refreshingly candid ratings that don’t necessarily follow the wines’ prices. (There’s a “very good” Conti Zecca Donna Marzia Primitivo del Salento 2012 at a mere B1,600.)
That’s not to say Lenzi comes out cheap, but if you order sensibly, it’s still superb fine dining for your buck. Add a highly a capable sommelier and maître d’, a beautiful open kitchen, and a chef that works the tables (“This is my cousin’s ham” and “This is my father’s limoncello” always add a bit of flavor to the proceedings) and you’ve got a package that’s difficult to resist. Corkage B750