Five stars, five floors, and an exclusive gourmet restaurant led by top chef Paulo Airaudo: La Gemma is the latest jewel of the Tuscan capital.
The colors of Florence's Duomo, the interiors of La Gemma Hotel showcase a combination of sage green and blush pink in different shades, a five-star jewel that opened a few months ago in the historic heart of the Tuscan capital. Exquisite marbles, precious woods, intricate decor, and luxurious fabrics have come together to create an exceptionally refined yet warm and inviting atmosphere, always cozy.
With five stories housing just over thirty rooms and a few suites overlooking the peaceful Via Dei Cavalieri, which can be transformed into an outdoor space for special occasions, away from the bustling city streets. This transformation took place during the celebratory soft-opening event just before the summer.
Owned by the Cecchi siblings, who formed the hotel's name, La Gemma, using the initials of their names Ginevra, Edoardo, Massimiliano, Maria Sole, Andrea, and their parents, Luca and Alessandra (with "La" representing their parents' names). The hotel recently hosted a diverse group of guests, including the Michelin-starred chef Paulo Airaudo, who oversees the cuisine at Luca's restaurant.
The restaurant is named after the family's late patriarch who passed away a couple of years ago, and it's located on the hotel's first floor, near the elegant Art Deco-style cocktail bar, making it the perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks. The attention to detail in the decor is evident, with two areas that open to the outside, two charming courtyards that can become intriguing smoking lounges when needed.
The hotel is under the capable direction of Laura Stopani, an experienced General Manager with an illustrious background. She recommended the Italo-Argentinian chef Paulo Airaudo to take charge of the new culinary project, which was emerging under the shadow of Brunelleschi's dome. Stopani's vision became a reality, and the thirty-eight-year-old chef, who has been living in San Sebastian for years, is now leading the kitchen.
A decade ago, the two had shared professional experiences at Borgo Santo Pietro in Chiusdino before Airaudo moved to Geneva and earned a Michelin star for his restaurant La Bottega in just four months. Today, Paulo Airaudo can boast ownership of fourteen restaurants in nine different locations in Spain. In San Sebastian, Amelia, named after his daughter, proudly boasts two Michelin stars. Another star graces Aleia in Barcelona, and the fourth macaron proudly shines in Hong Kong. His next culinary adventure is on the horizon in Miami, where, uniquely among his restaurants, he shares ownership with a partner.
Il ristorante Luca's Restaurant by Paulo Airaudo
Luca's restaurant represents the only consultative role for the chef, and the daily on-site executive work is skillfully handled by Olivia Cappelletti and Tommaso Querini, who are in constant direct contact with Paulo for brainstorming new menus and themes related to dish creation. The culinary philosophy begins with an evolved classicism as its base, with clever and unexpected deviations that result in an unmistakable sense of cosmic goodness. His creative calling is undeniable, as he has dabbled in various creative fields throughout his life, including graphic design.
"I chose the career of a chef - he shares - because it offers me the opportunity to be a true explorer. Moreover, I could never bear to be stuck behind a desk." Indeed, his establishments are scattered across very diverse locations, such as San Sebastian, Hong Kong, Barcelona, and now, Florence, and each of them exudes an irresistible magnetism for the chef. The shared vision among all of Airaudo's restaurants is to present tasting menus. At "Luca's," you can choose the option of four or eight courses. However, it's important to note that each individual dish is also available a la carte."
The atmosphere at the bar evokes the grandeur of one of The Great Gatsby's extravagant parties. Waiters begin to parade with appetizers for the aperitif, including a tartlet with yellowtail tartare and summer black truffle shavings from Appennino Food Group. It is delicate with a hint of toasty aroma and a mushroom-like fragrance.
An air bread supports, as velvet cushions did in bygone eras with precious jewels, a shard of Coda Nera (Black Tail) Reserve salmon, with a graceful and unobtrusive hint of smoke. The smoking process follows the Baltic tradition of tying the salmon by the tail and then hanging them in the ovens.
Thin slices of white turnip, elegantly arranged like rose petals, encase a fresh combination of yellowtail and ume kosho, prepared with plums and chili, creating an interplay of textures between crisp and melt-in-your-mouth. It's a delicate burst of freshness in a tomato water and shiso-flavored oil. Beneath the paccheri pasta from Mancini, a red Mazara del Vallo shrimp tartare complements the hearty bite of the pasta, with the assistance of a subtly alluring tomato.
The masterful risotto, starting sweet with pumpkin and seared blue lobster, gradually sharpens with the zesty aromas of lemon and nasturtium vinaigrette, also present in leaf form, with a mild spiciness that pairs with the more intense 'nduja oil.
Taleggio cheese buttons, rich with a tempting umami, are enhanced by the enveloping vin jaune sauce, with razor clams adding a touch of the sea, in its less salty way. The wine, Mastrojanni Ciliegiolo IGT 2020, brings forth salinity and roundness.
The monkfish tail combines savory, bitter, and earthy notes, resting on a bed of telline clams and white turnip, bathed in bagna cauda and trout roe, delivering intermittent savoriness, while chard contributes hints of vegetal bitterness.
Two perfect crispy oats and honey wafers break the softness of the goat cheese flan, elegantly and sophisticatedly accompanied by a plum coulis and slices of the same fruit.
The Mastrojanni Botrys DOC 2015 Moscato, Malvasia di Candia, Sauvignon, is elegantly fruity, with measured sweetness, providing an excellent closing match.
Hotel La Gemma- Luca's
Via Dei Cavalieri 2C, 50123, Firenze (IT)
Tel. hotel: +39 055 0105200