Where Food is Art: Antica Torre, Carmignano

Last summer while staying in a rather remote area of Tuscany near the town of Vinci (of “Leonardo da” fame), I drove over the mountains in the direction of Prato and Florence and stopped for dinner at a restaurant called Antica Torre. I was one of only a few customers that weeknight, but I was blown away by not just the quality of the food, but the amazingly beautiful preparations that made each dish seem like a work of art.

The meal started with a complimentary glass of apple-flavored prosecco and a vase with a “bouquet” of the biggest and most delicious breadsticks I have ever seen or tasted, I then had a cream of carrot soup decorated with flowers, and a very unique and wonderful dish of the local specialty, pici pasta. Pici is often served with a ragout of cinghiale (wild boar), but this was served with venison and the sauce was made of tart red berries and topped with fresh Parmesan. Wow. Dessert was a molten lava cake with caramelized pear and again, featuring an unreal, artistic preparation.

This summer I went back for seconds at Antica Torre and the food as art combination is still going strong. There is still a free glass of prosecco, and the breadsticks are still there. For an appetizer I tried what I thought was a pear and goat cheese combination, but it turned out to be a pear made OUT of goat cheese and there were four delicious and varied flavors of warm rolls to go along with it. The main course was a rather plain looking, but delicious salmon risotto. However, the award for the evening went to the dessert: a tipped over and broken plant pot made of chocolate, with streusel “soil” and a real viola flower spilling out onto the plate. Deep inside the broken pot was cheesecake. Just brilliant!

The restaurant is not cheap; a three course meal without wine will be close to 40 Euro, but there is the free prosecco and nice touches like a lemon ginger jelly to cleanse the palate along the way. If you’re anywhere in the area (30 miles or so west of Florence on the way toward Pisa or Lucca), you should consider checking out the amazing Tuscan countryside and visit this restaurant or “art gallery wannabe”!

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