If you’ve paid a visit to Florence recently, chances are you’ve been to All’Antico Vinaio, or have at least seen the ever-present lines leading up to what is certainly the most famous sandwich - or rather “schiacciata” - shop in the city.
Its three venues are all located within a few feet of each other on Via Dei Neri, right around the corner from Piazza della Signoria and the Uffizi Gallery. The first and smallest shop was taken over by the Mazzanti family in 1991 and since then they have been serving up their home-made “schiacciate” (deliciously fluffy bread, akin to focaccia) filled with prime Tuscan meats, cheeses, vegetables and spreads accompanied by a glass of wine.
Following the shop’s success, the family went on to open two additional sit-down venues on the same street, All’Antico Vinaio Atto II in 2013 and All’Antico Vinaio Atto III in 2015.
Now, New Yorkers have the chance to take a culinary “trip” to Florence at Joe Bastianich’s Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, an Italian restaurant located in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, where the famed sandwiches will be served daily from June 13th to July 13th.
Having been an avid frequenter of All’Antico during the two occasions I lived in Florence, and having already had the chance to sample more than a few bites - not to mention take home my very own full-sized schiacciata - during the opening night of the pop-up, I can attest to the authenticity of the New York version.
This is the first time All’Antico Vinaio travels outside of Florence. Bastianich and Tommaso “Tommy” Mazzanti are long-time friends and had been considering such a collaboration for some time. Tommy’s wife, Clara tells us that though it wasn’t easy, they were beyond excited to do it. “We still can’t believe we’re here in New York,” she says. Everyone - including their young son - flew over for the opening week but most of them will have to head back to keep things running smoothly back home.
So far, the initiative has already been hugely successful, with lines reportedly forming outside of Otto daily, made up of people curious to check out the hype around “Italy’s most famous sandwich” as well as initiated clients craving some Florentine goodness.
Could this mean that we might potentially see other All’Antico Vinaio stores pop-up around the world? The Mazzanti family hasn’t mentioned any such plans yet but one can always dream.
In the meantime, for more information check out Otto’s website and if you plan on going, I would suggest getting there early and hungry (the portions are generous to say the least.)