Coco Lezzone is certainly not a well kept secret among the Florentines, but if you wander in here as a random tourist, you are likely to be one of the few. Serving a full crowd would require an awful lot of the century-old wood-burning stove used to cook Coco Lezzone’s array of homemade recipes that date back generations. This is a family joint, opened in the 1970s by the Paoli brothers. These days, Gianfranco, Coco Lezzone’s founding father, has taken a step back and handed over control of the restaurant to his son, Gianluca, but that doesn’t mean he’s not still around, working the restaurant like he’s done for almost 50 years. Having reached a sort of cult status among locals, Coco Lezzone is definitely on the radar of savvy travelers and has also seen its fair share of famous faces, from Prince Charles to Anthony Hopkins.
An undeniable draw to Coco Lezzone is its authenticity; in the atmosphere, service and food. The menu is long and ultra seasonal. Dishes are only available when the products are good, so at any given time, you will be told what you can order, rather than choose anything you want. Although we have no concrete proof, we suspect on slower nights the dishes available correspond to that night’s family meal, as everyone working at Coco Lezzone is part of the family. If you want a real down-home dining experience, Coco Lezzone is for you.
Akin to visiting a stranger’s house in a foreign country, a meal at Coco Lezzone could be a little uncomfortable for a cushy traveler; feelings of insecurity, doubt with regard to what’s appropriate or not, and wondering if you are being a good guest at all wouldn’t be totally uncalled for. The approach to everything is no-nonsense so those wanting to be wined and dined should walk down the street to an overpriced restaurant with menus in every language. However, if you enjoy traditional, home cooked food made with love from quality ingredients and like to see the real side of a city, even if you stick out like a sore thumb, Coco Lezzone is for you.
What to Order
- papa al pomodoro
- bistecca alla Fiorentina
- trippa alla Fiorentine
Note: To have the bistecca you must make a reservation a couple of days in advance and order the bistecca at that time. The meat is ordered from a local butcher according to demand to ensure quality and freshness. Bistecca is always cooked extra rare, you have no choice in terms of doneness, and at Coco Lezzone you will get however much the staff determines you need; anywhere from 2-5 lbs of meat.