Looking at the photos above, and based on the decor and beautiful silverware on the tables, you would be mistaken for thinking that I am in a very expensive and exclusive restaurant, You will probably be very surprised to learn then, that this is the cafeteria or Mensa as it is called in Italian of PAMPALONI. By day, the silver-smiths who work in the factory downstairs can be found here having their lunch.
By night, the room upstairs, behind this door above transforms into an amazing restaurant serving an interesting menu with an unusual mix of Italian and Japanese food. An example of the menu is below.
A few weeks ago we were invited to visit In Fabbrica during the Florence TASTE festival and experienced a fascinating evening of art, food and even a bit of politics. We were treated to the most delicious tempura fried vegetables and also tempura apples, pears, bananas and strawberries served with chocolate dipping sauce. Tempura fruit was a first for me and I must say, very delicious! I would like to try this at home, kind of a modern banana fritter but sure I would just make a huge mess so I will leave it to the experts!
Located a quick 5-10 minute drive from the City Center, in Via del Gelsomino, in what seems to be a residential area, you would be forgiven for driving past without even noticing the stunning silver sculpture set back behind the entrance gates. No big sign with the restaurant or even the company’s name on display. Just the discreet doorbell lets you know you have come to the right place.
Once you walk in the door, you are greeted by an impressive exhibition of the more historical and iconic silver pieces that Pampaloni are known for. Here you can also read the story behind every collection before going upstairs to the restaurant.
For those of you wishing to try a very authentic and different experience when visiting Florence, I would definitely add a dinner at In Fabbrica to your list of ‘things to do’. Your waiters will be the silversmiths who by day have been creating some of the beautiful creations that Pampaloni sell around the world.
You may have noticed an interesting symbol on the Italian side of the menu. The roof of the restaurant also has an impressive light feature of the Hammer & Sickle whose usage usually indicates an association with communism. The two tools symbolize the urban industrial workers and the rural agricultural workers respectively, and their overlapping symbolizes the unity of the two as the working class. The owner of Pampaloni Silversmiths is Gianfranco Pampaloni, a very proud Communist who also has a very witty and ironic way of illustrating and symbolising his opinions and views of various current affairs. You will note the irony everywhere – from the artistic vintage style posters decorating the factory walls, to his exclusive wine and olive oil labels and even displayed in the window of his Florence shop located in Via Porta Rossa.
If you would like to take home a little souvenir from Pampaloni, their shop in the center of Florence will certainly cater to all tastes and budgets.
My son Matteo is a very lucky 2 year old as he already has a beautiful silver cup from Pampaloni, received for his baptism. Apparently silver actually purifies the water!
Restaurant “In Fabbrica” – Via del Gelsomino 99, Firenze – 347 5145468
Da Mercoledì a Sabato – Dalle ore 20:00
Workshop – Via del Gelsomino 99, Firenze – 055 2320523
Florence Shop – Via Porta Rossa 99r, Firenze – 055 289094