17 June 2013

n.d.p. in florence: 5 e cinque

Florence is the only place I've ever been pickpocketed. As a friend and I snacked on one of the support columns of the Ponte Santa Trinita one evening a decade ago, some genial-seeming locals came up and spoke incomprehensibly about football maneuvers before demonstrating same at close quarters and robbing me in the process. It was all the money I had and I wound up busking the rest of that month.

As a result of this experience, I now walk down busy Florentine streets with my hands firmly placed over my back pockets, looking like some sort of constipated building inspector. Most nerve-racking for me is the famed Ponte Vecchio, a Hieronymus Boschian scene of beckoning trinket-hawkers, trilling gypsy beggars, and glass-eyed cargo-shorted tourists in visors and sweat-colored polos. The jangle of novelty key chains can be heard for miles. While revisiting the city last spring I hurried past it all in characteristic paranoiac style and waited for my friends some blocks ahead.

Imagine my surprise to discover, just a skip away from the Ponte Vecchio, the clean white storefront of 5 e Cinque, a modest, health-conscious, and well-appointed natural wine bar, the city's only one, as far as I know.

My friends and I were planning to kill time before a reservation at a neighboring restaurant specializing in tripe. The kitchen at 5 e Cinque wasn't yet open, but that suited us fine. Proprietor Silvio Garrando, a former antiques dealer, was admirably okay with our crowd of bros taking over much of the dining room and pounding down wine in the off-hours.

It had been the razor-keen biodynamic Gavi wines of Stefano Bellotti that had originally caught my eye at 5 e Cinque.

But as we were a very numerous crowd it seemed an appropriate occasion to check out the "Litrozzo" project of renowned biodynamic Lazio estate Le Coste, whose other wines were at the time (and remain) disproportionately well-represented on more adventurous Paris wine lists. Le Coste is a roughly 10ha estate, scattered in plots around Lake Bolsena, founded by winemakers Gian Marco Antonuzi and Clementine Bouveron in 2004.

It's easy to see why Paris somms like the wines. Atonuzi wrote about wine before involving himself in its production; later, in the course of his studies, he worked with Ardechois OG's Dard et Ribo, Jean-Paul Thévenet in Beaujolais, and Philippe Pacalet in Burgundy. The wines themselves, site specific field blends of often arcane autochthonous Lazian varieties, are rugged and majestic. They're also pretty expensive. If I rarely order them in Paris, it's because I have recollections of similarly great central Italian wines being had for half the price in NYC and LA, and it galls me to shell out what often strike me (perhaps unfairly) as Parisian sucker prices, the result of tiny import quantities or high tariffs or both.

The winery's "Litrozzo" range of uncomplicated litre bottles of vins de soif was therefore a very welcome discovery for me. It seems important to demonstrate to wine consumers, especially in Paris, that the genre of biodynamic Italian wine is not composed solely of Event Bottles. Vindication came a year later, when the other day I encountered Le Coste's marvelous Litrozzo Rosato at Vivant Cave, Pierre Jancou's homey bar-à-vin in the 10ème arrondissement.

A field blend of Greghetto, Cannaiolo, Colorino, Vaiano, and Ciliegiolo, the Litrozzo Rosato is, like the rest of the winery's output, bottled with neither sulfur nor filtration. The palate is brief but memorable, a brisk honest attack of fine-grained acid and crunchy red berry, kicking up bright dusty tannins like an angel touching down.

5 et Cinque takes its name from a Ligurian sandwich of the same name, which in turn takes its name from the historical price of its staple ingredients - focaccia and cecina, 5 lire each. The restaurant's menu offers more involved dishes, specializing (undogmatically) in vegetarian dishes. Prices are very kind - another rarity for a place so close to a central tourist destination, and something I'll be especially thankful for next time I get my wallet jacked.

Piazza della passera 1
50125 Florence
Tel: +39 055 2741583

Related Links: 

N.D.P. in Florence : Enoteca Bonatti
N.D.P. in Florence : Enoteca Fuori Porta

It's amusing to note that at time of writing the first Google result for 5 e Cinque is a listing on a forum for vegetarians called HappyCow.
Good 2012 pics of 5 e Cinque at ADustyOliveGreen.
A nice pictorial piece on 5 e Cinque at Tara'sDolceVita.
A brief mention of a 2013 meal at 5 e Cinque at Cross-Pollinate.
A brief mention of 5 e Cinque at DreamOfItaly.

A terrific account of a 2011 visit to Le Coste at Louis/Dresser.
A brief piece on Le Coste at WineAnorak.

Vivant Cave, 75010 : Presently serving the "Litrozzo" by the glass. 

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