by Melinda Gallo

Osteria di Giovanni

For my birthday last week, I had planned on eating at one of my favorite restaurants, Osteria di Giovanni, with my friend Jill. In the end, we weren't able to go, but I kept thinking that I wanted to go there for lunch before I take off for the States. Another girlfriend of mine 'Annah, who is an artist and poet, wasn't able to make it to my birthday dinner at Canapone, so she invited me to lunch. I suggested Osteria di Giovanni because I really love it and also because she hadn't been there yet either.

Living in Florence :: Osteria di Giovanni

When we arrived at the restaurant, the young cameriera (waitress) showed us quickly to our table in the back. We walked past a large table of tourists and many other tables of Italians. Most people looked up at us as we walked in, which is generally the custom here. I followed the cameriera and sat down. The room we sat in was painted a soft yellow and all around us were beautiful original paintings by prominent Florentine artists.

The room was noisy, but everyone was speaking Italian. 'Annah told the cameriere (waiter) that it was my birthday. "La settimana scorsa. (Last week.)," I added. He brought us two glasses and poured us some prosecco. For both meals on my birthday and this meal, I had been served either prosecco or champagne. It felt very festive to be drinking it again, but it was so strong that I felt sleepy before my primo (first course) arrived.

We both ordered one of their specialities, Tortelli ripieni di pere e pecorino con asparagi (Pear and pecorino filled tortelli with asparagus).

Right before our pasta arrived, the table next to us received a cestino (basket) of coccoli, which are deep-fried balls of bread dough. The first time I came to Osteria di Giovanni, they gave them to us, but somehow they didn't this time. When the waiter brought our primi, I asked him, "Ci puoi portare dei coccoli? (Can you bring us some coccoli?)" It was probably not normal to eat them with pasta, but they are so good and I felt like we were missing out if we didn't have them.

Between the delicious pasta and the prosecco, I was too sazia (full) to eat a secondo (second course). I ordered a torta al cioccolato (chocolate cake) and 'Annah ordered a macedonia (fruit salad). The cameriere filled my glass once again with more prosecco and when my torta arrived he sang a solo of "Tanti auguri a te... (Happy birthday to you...)"

To finish off our meal, as if the dolce (dessert) wasn't enough. The cameriere brought us a plate of cantuccini (biscotti) and vin santo. If I wasn't feeling tired or drunk off the last two glasses of prosecco, the glass of vin santo I drank pushed me slightly over the edge.

After our delicious meal at Osteria di Giovanni, we walked back to 'Annah's apartment, which is right above the Ponte Vecchio. I had to take a picture of the view as it is so unique. When else would I ever be able to see the Ponte Vecchio from that angle if not from her wonderful apartment.

I feel as if the festivities for my birthday have been stretched out over a week as my friends have been so generous and kind to me for my fortieth birthday. Reaching forty is an important milestone even though at times I feel that it was just another birthday. It's slowly sinking in that I'm at an significant age in my life, but to me every year is meaningful and every milestone is worthy of celebration.

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