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Gucci Osteria Continues to Amaze: A World Tour In A Menu in Florence

Kaja Sajovic
copertina gucci osteria 2024 05 09 23 05 13

A tour of Italy (and the world) in a menu: from Mexico to Japan, and even revisited classics from the Italian Peninsula, Taka and Karime create dishes where playfulness meets cultural and aesthetic sophistication. Gucci Osteria shines in Florence.

The Restaurant and the Chefs

When it comes to luxury fashion brands' restaurants, style, design and aesthetics are never in question. Everything is immaculate and on point. Food though can get a bit lost in this, substance pushed to the side, the aforementioned style taking over. That's definitely not the case in Gucci Osteria Florence.

Gucci osteria firenze 2

But it was no easy task for Karime Lopez and Takahiko “Taka” Kondo, Mexican and Japanese, her coming in after years of working for Virgilio Martinez in Central, him following her, switching Massimo Bottura’s flagship culinary institution, Osteria Francescana where he was running the kitchen, for the Florence headquarters of Gucci.

takahiko kondo
karime lopez 3

At the beginning of this mash-up of so different cultures, backgrounds and ingredients the menu still felt a bit timid, Karime and Taka still tip-toeing and figuring out how to make this place their own, with a style that would be both uniquely theirs but still fit in a place with a very firm vision and set of guidelines like Gucci Osteria. Well, they found it.  

Gucci Osteria Firenze foto staff 7

There's something playful, but also almost ethereal in the cooking styles of Karime and Taka, a little magic that's hard to explain because the entire set-up sounds a bit cacophonic, so loaded with impressions and expressions - Mexican mixed with Japanese, set in a restaurant opened by a big name fashion brand under the watchful eye of *The* Massimo Bottura who in no way is the kind of chef who would not get involved in a place that has his name plastered all over.

Gucci Osteria Firenze foto staff 6
GUCCI OSTERIA foto staff 5

Oh, and the location is Florence, Tuscany, where locals eat cow's guts sandwiches for breakfast (the famous lampredotto, of course, with a big street food culture built around it) and tourists flock to see the statue of naked David and the painting of naked Venus. It’s Michelangelo and Medici, Da Vinci and Botticelli, it’s zen rowers under Ponte Vecchio and hectic jewelry merchants on it, it’s the thick meaty bistecca alla Fiorentina and pappardelle with wild boar, drunk with a bottle of Super Tuscan. It's one of those cities so rich in culture, both architectural and eno-gastronomic, that it's always on the verge of becoming one giant tourist trap.

Gucci Osteria Entrata
Gucci Osteria setting 2

A flow of tourists moving ever so slowly from Piazza del Duomo with the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, past the little old wine windows (Buchette del vino) and the aforementioned lampredotto carts (Trippaio) to Piazza della Signoria where a collection of impressive statues, including the replica of Michelangelo’s David, leads the way from Uffizi gallery to the imposing Palazzo della Mercanzia where Gucci has its sprawling empire gastronomy headquarters. The surrounding cafés are filled with languages from all over the world and sometimes it's hard to tell who did their research and found a genuine one and who followed the masses into another subpar touristy place and ordered a glass of chianti and »something with pomodoro« because that is their idea of a Tuscan vacation.


Those with some interest in fashion and design will know though how Florence is also the home of both the house of Gucci, one of world's oldest and most established high-end fashion brands, and the designer porcelain brand Ginori 1735. With the merger back in 2013 a true tour de force in the world of classy yet constantly evolving esthetics as prominently featured in the Gucci Osteria with their green, pink and blue color scheme. 

Gucci Osteria setting 1

The dishes

This overwhelming stage is set for Karime and Taka who have risen to the challenge and developed their own, unique style that brings a little bit of Mexican spicy character (Karime’s signature purple corn tostada - in the latest iteration of this ceviche inspired crowd favorite with Adriatic bonito, spice and citrus), a little bit of Japanese perfection (gorgeous chawanmushi with eel, yuzu, mussels and caviar) and a little bit of both (From Acapulco to Okinawa: Cod with shiso and Crusco chilli). No, it’s definitely not a simple bistro concept what was originally the plan for Gucci Osterias back in 2018 when they opened.

Gucci Osteria Tostada
Gucci Osteria da acapulco a hokinawa

Often in the menu there’s a take on well-known classics, but done with a twist and flair, like the torta in-salata, a Gucci very own version of Russian salad, with polenta crisp filled with light fluffy cream, seasonal vegetables and caviar.

Gucci Osteria Torta in Salata 0034

A highlight for sure is Animella Mia!, one of the best sweetbreads dishes I have ever had, with the soft piece of veal organ meat fried in quinoa crust and served with salsa verde. Absolutely delicious and original. 

Gucci Osteria Sweetbread Portulaca Alkekengi 1541

But, like in all four Gucci Osterias around the world (Florence, Los Angeles, Seoul and Tokyo), it has to be unmistakably Italian as well. In the “Our New Memories” menu that Italian part is represented with “Non Dire Cassate”, the absolutely outstanding bright green cold pasta that matches the Gucci dining room walls to the delight of food influencers. The inspiration for the dish came from a trip to Sicily with their picturesque cassattas (sponge cake soaked with fruit juices and layered with ricotta and fruit), but at Gucci they do a savory dish of spaghetti with pistachio pesto, almond cream, Cedar and smoked ricotta. It’s another one of those creations that feel so unique and are also just simply satisfying. 

Gucci Osteria non dire cassate

The Italian influence is represented in the “Pollo Ryoshi” as well, or, as I call it, the schizophrenic chicken. Namely, the bird is done two ways - on one side of the snow white Ginori plate is a piece of meat cooked the Italian way, with black truffles and cacciatore stew reduction, on the other the Japanese counterpart that feels like an homage to Den’s Zaiyu Hasegawa signature stuffed chicken (that’s even more pronounced in the latest Gucci Osteria Tokyo menu where the talented Antonio Iacioviello serves a fried chicken leg stuffed with rice). At Gucci Florence, they stuff the meat with rice and miso and serve it with lovely crispy marinated daikon on the side.

Gucci Osteria Firenze foto staff 3

The playfulness continues through the sweet section as well, with Karime’s take on a nostalgic Banana Split classic (who hasn’t enjoyed it as a kid – no matter if you grew up in Europe or on the other side of the pond?), a dish that looks like a fun, over-the-top festive cake straight from a Mexican fiesta and tastes like a dessert back from the good old days when the point of the last part of the menu was to give you an indulgent sugar rush, not a chef’s deep dive into his vegetable garden. 

Gucci Osteria BANANA SPLIT 1825

Last year, Osteria Francescana served a menu called “I am not There”. It was a cheeky play on words using Bob Dylan reference for the many lives and transformations the restaurant went through with these dishes, but it was also Bottura’s comeback to critics who complain when *the* chef is not in the kitchen. The term also illustrates Bottura’s ever expanding portfolio of restaurants and projects helmed by his top former head chefs, be it Torno Subito (Dubai, Singapore, Miami), the wonderfully holistic Casa Maria Luigia or his Gucci Osteria quartet. But I would go even further and argue the term can be applied to every Gucci Osteria menu with dishes that can be seen as a nod to Massimo (who is “not there” and yet his presence is somehow felt) and his penchant to throw people off with perceptions, deconstructions and twists on classic Italian dishes.

karime lopez 2

Sure, in order to achieve that I guess you could drop some version of lemon tart (after all, it was Taka himself who created the now famous “accidental” desert), add a few more ages of Parmigiano Reggiano or do some kind of psychedelic massacre on the plate. That would feel lazy though.

Gucci Osteria Firenze foto staff 4

So what you get is the tongue-in-cheek "Still hungry?" after-dessert. There’s a little bit of cute theatrics that goes into it, with the staff placing plates covered with heavy silver Gucci “Orgasmique” lids in front of you – then uncovering them with one, well-rehearsed synchronized move. Underneath – a slice of pizza topped with strawberry and tomato jam instead of tomato salsa and fiordilatte ice cream instead of mozzarella, for those haters who say you always leave a fine dining restaurant hungry, hence you need to go for a slice of pizza after a tasting menu.

Gucci Osteria pizza dolce

The entire team here knows their assignments very well – creating a sort of Dolce Vita feel, a fine dining restaurant but without the stuffiness, representing the brands, both Gucci and Massimo, but in a way that never feels like a side project for one or the other. For that, give credit to the charismatic head manager Damiano Barbato, the talented young head sommelier Erica Vivace, but also to the power house of a mixologist Martina Bonci who will shake a mean take on Negroni (and many many other dangerous concoctions) at the next-door Gucci Giardino bar. Salute!

Gucci Osteria vino 3


Gucci Osteria Da Massimo Bottura

Piazza della Signoria, 10 - 50122 Florence

Phone. +39 055 062 1744


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