As I ride my bike around the city, I often stop to take photos when something catches my eye, which happens a lot in Florence, as you can imagine!
One day when picking up my boys from a play-date in Piazza D’Azeglio, I noticed a great font on the signage of a cafe & bistrot. I took a photo admiring the details on the arched entrances while making a mental note to return one day for lunch or dinner.
With all of the restaurant closures recently, we haven’t been going out as much as usual and so you can imagine my delight when I was invited to lunch at Cafe 19.26 and realised it was that place that I had admired all those months ago.
Located a five-minute walk from Sant ‘Ambrogio and a block away from beautiful Piazza D’Azeglio, Cafè 19.26 is a stunning space that offers various dining and entertaining options from your first coffee and pastry in the morning to a special rum while listening to live music in the evening.
It’s hard to put a label on Cafè 19.26 which by the way was not founded in 1926 as the name suggests. The numbers 19 & 26 are lucky roulette numbers and hold a special significance for owners, brother and sister Paola & Matteo del Re, who take great pride in their restaurant, created with the desire to give the neighbourhood and corner location an upgrade.
A lot of care and love has gone into the curation of the interior decor thanks to Tuscan designer, Becattini making you feel like you are a guest in someone’s home. Against a backdrop of dark wood and marble, decorated with artwork, vintage signs, mirrors and trinkets from around the world, each space and room has its own special ambience, similar to the flair found in Montmartre. The corner room was once a pharmacy and the stunning original cabinets have remained. (pictured below)
The bistro is so much larger inside than what you imagine from the exterior. Divided into different rooms, you can choose from an intimate space for two, a library room with the largest selection of rum labels from around the world (and a 1920’s horse carriage!) or you may prefer the wine cellar which is perfect for a private event or exclusive dinner.
The menu includes a mixed cuisine influenced by France & Italy. I chose one of their signature salads – ‘La 26’ which came out served in a gorgeous glass stemmed bowl with lid. Mixed greens, sunflower seeds, tomato, sultanas and nectarines topped with a whole ball of Pugliese burrata. It was delicious and enough to be a meal in itself for a light lunch. I followed this with the foie gras served with a peach and sauterne reduction – I always welcome new flavours and cuisine here in Florence and this dish did not disappoint! Indian native, Chef Amrit Singh does an incredible job and I can’t wait to return to try his prawn curry with Armagnac prunes!
Additional dishes on the menu that tempted my palate were the Ravioli di Cernia (grouper), served with onions, anchovies & bottarga and the Beef Chop made with tomato, capers, oregano and Taggiasca olives. A really interesting menu made with the freshest, seasonal ingredients prepared with care and passion.
Tuscan wines and French Champagne complete the wine list but Cafè 19.26 also boasts 500 unique rum brands, the largest list on offer in Florence, showcased in a stunning glass cabinet. Caribbean specialities combined with excellent chocolate, coffee or a special cigar are the perfect way to end the evening and the cosy rooms available provide the perfect ambience.
The impressive rum cabinet below is divided into different regions; Panama, Porto Rico, Grenada, Santo Domingo, Barbados & St Lucia are just some of the special places offering their local rum specialities.
I felt like it would be wrong if I didn’t finish my lunch with a Rum babà for dessert. I love these light, spongy dolce filled with sweet rum syrup. I also love how they came served in a martini glass with an extra shot of rum on the side……. just in case your Babà need an extra soaking!
The best news this week is that we can finally eat indoors at restaurants and bars again from today! We’ve all been waiting for this moment for such a long time and I am personally so happy for all the restaurants that have not been able to open due to not having any outdoor space. Even though Cafè19.26 was able to place a few tables outside, it’s just not the same as when the entire restaurant is filled and the live music is playing.
The live music will recommence this week – for the first 3 weeks of June and then again from September (Evenings Thursday -Friday – Saturday)
Please note the full June 2021 program below – looks like an amazing selection of music! I think I might have to go to the Lucio Battisti tribute as his music takes me back to when I first visited Florence in the early 90’s.
live music program – June 2021
- Thursday 3rd June 8:30pm “Pensieri e parole – Tributo a Lucio Battisti”
- Friday 4th June 8:30pm “Quando la musica è donna – Le più belle voci femminili italiane ed internazionali”
- Saturday 5th June 8:30pm “Musica argentina, tango e milonga”
- Thursday 10th June 9pm “Tributo al Duca Bianco, David Bowie”
- Friday 11th June 9pm “Musica cubana”
- Saturday 12th June 9pm “Come fly with me – Le più belle canzoni di Frank Sinatra e Micheal Bublé”
- Thursday 17th June 9pm “Tributo alla Canzone italiana”
- Friday 18th June 9pm “Swing music and lindy hop”
- Saturday 19th June 9pm “Jazz night”
If you are looking for a new and special experience outside of the bustling city center, take a little walk to Cafe 19.26. It’s not a restaurant, nor a trattoria but a little bistrot where you might pop in for a coffee, stay for lunch and come back in the evening for a night-cap.
I can’t wait to return!
Via Giovan Battista Niccolini, 30/R, 50121 Firenze