Coco Lezzone

What does “COCO LEZZONE” means, only real Florentine people can understand, but this is one of the important characteristics of the restaurant, so we’ll try to tell you the story… Once upon the time, in the ‘50s the cook that worked at the trattoria was so good and famous that everybody knew him.

His name was Corrado. Corrado had a very personal opinion about cleanliness, He always wore the same dirty apron, and never washed it.
So, people started to call him “coco lezzone” (COCO as for cook in Florentine dialect and LEZZONE, to mean dirty). Nevertheless, everybody still went to eat at the trattoria, as the food was excellent. Nowadays the law is very strict, and the new cook has only inherited the good cooking tradition, fortunately, but the name remains, to remind us of the tradition and because it is nice to tell the story. COCO LEZZONE is situated in one of the many ancient towers grown in Florence during the 1300. It’s not possible to know the date in which it was built, but during the 1800 and up to the ‘50s it was a wine shop where the “fiaccherai”, coach drivers, could seat and eat something warm, drink a simple glass of wine real fast and sitting all together at the few common tables. While the city was growing this place became a little trattoria. The streets were filled with inviting aromas from the trattoria, and the artisans working all around there and people passing throw had the promise of a good lunch or dinner. Gianfranco Paoli knew, for the first time, the “COCO”. It reminded him of his mother Emma and the authenticity of the food she cooked him and his brothers ( she was a widow and had five sons she grew all by herself), that was the only way she could express her love. For Gianfranco was “love at first sight”. In 1971 he bought the store together with his brothers Giampiero e Giuliano. Thanks to Gianfranco, COCO LEZZONE returned to be the temple of taste it was, but this time, it was the place where aristocrats and common people, politicians and international actors, and singers, met for a meal, sitting at the same table.

This tiny trattoria hidden in a tangle of alleys near the Arno consists of long communal tables in a couple of pocket-size rooms wrapped around a cubbyhole of a kitchen whose chef, according to the restaurant's dialect name, is a bit off his rocker. The place is popular with local intellectuals, journalists, and the city soccer team. While enjoying your ribollita (known here as a "triumph of humility") or rigatoni al sugo (in a chunky ragù), look at where the yellow paint on the lower half of the wall gives way to white: That's how high the Arno flooded the joint in 1966. If you want a bistecca alla fiorentina, call ahead first. Friday is baccalà (salt cod) day, and every day their involtini (thin veal slice wrapped around vegetables) and crocchette di filetto (veal-and-basil meatloaf smothered in tomato sauce) are good.