MIARCA Architecture's design enhances the identity and mission of the historic restaurant with a view of Ponte Vecchio, the Vasari Corridor and the Uffizi Gallery

A place dedicated to catering should not only be read through the glamour of the ambience, the quality of the dishes offered by the chef andhis kitchen brigade or the mise en place. It is something more. It is the unveiling of a philosophy and a perspective to make the guest think and dream the way the owners think and dream. For the historic Golden View restaurant in Florence, architect Nicola Maggiaioli (MIARCA Architecture), has interpreted and narrated, through the interior design project, the thoughts and dreams of the owners, Tommaso Grasso and his wife Sara Taccetti, mixing in the right doses scenic effect, "golden view" of the panorama, simple elegance.

A twenty-year history

The 550 square metre spaces overlooking the Arno, Ponte Vecchio, the Vasari Corridor and the Uffizi have been redesigned to enhance both the light coming in from the banks of the river and the function of each room and the role of each professional of taste who embarked on this haute cuisine adventure twenty years ago. "For me, the restaurant is home, a space that reflects my passions linked not only to food but also to wine, the world of art collecting and philanthropy that I love to share with my guests and with the entire work team with whom I have a wonderful relationship and perfect harmony," explains the owner. "I consider these elements to be strategic factors for a business like this to function".

Giving substance to form

The restaurant's rich showcase of gastronomic excellence speaks Italian, but also tells of other territories, from France to the countries of the North: from the fresh fish from the fishmonger's shop, to the pastries, to the baked goods reign of bread master Michel Pellegrini, to the important selection of wines, a veritable itinerary among prestigious labels chosen by the owner together with wine hunter Paolo Miano. "The location is not enough, it is a starting point. I think people are very satisfied with the view, but the substance of this form called 'Golden View' is us, it is our work, our dishes, our research,' says Tommaso.

A chef-architect

Everything adds up to the gourmet experience offered by Chef Paolo Secci, who studied architecture before dedicating himself to cooking. Chef Secci has applied the creativity he trained during his university years to the world of food, which he has tackled by studying and immersing himself in depth: "The thirst for recipes, new techniques and culinary methodologies has never abandoned me and, in so many years travelling around Italy and the world, has allowed me to accumulate a varied and heterogeneous store of knowledge, inspiring my infinite curiosity for the ingredients and raw materials typical of the places where I have worked".

Enhancing the golden view

While preserving the original layout, with three interconnected rooms, the new design enhances the golden view that gives the place its name and identity, removing all wall or furnishing elements that could be an obstacle and making it visible from the main entrance on Via de' Bardi. Each room dialogues with the next through large windows or individual openings, as is the case for the entrance with the first room, for the fishmonger's and kitchen with the central one, and between the secondary entrance and the last room in the centre of which a piano reveals the hope of becoming a stage for jazz music again. Conviviality, as we know, is now an all-round experience. Tommaso explains: "The guest entering the restaurant can transparently see with what attention is being paid to the kitchen, because thanks to the renovation of the restaurant, the kitchen is now completely exposed, i.e. visible from both inside and outside".

Territorial identity

"Right from the entrance, the restaurant reveals its identity and territoriality: with an interplay of overlapping simple volumes, thick slabs of Carrara marble and olive wood planking support the view and the counter along the entire length of the oak parquet passageway. Each material was chosen to affirm the specificity of the place and the recognisability of the brand, linked to Tuscan food culture and the ritual of preparation and meticulous selection of ingredients," says architect Maggiaioli. Examples of this are the finishes: the Lume tiles from Marazzi's Il Crogiolo collection or the black top on the back of the counter covered with Laminam's In-Side inspired by natural stones are a reminder of the world of craftsmanship.

Craftsmanship dimension

A series of pillars marks the division of the various areas of competence: the barman is first responsible for welcoming the guest. In the bar area, the marble and wood paradigm is reversed, with stone acting as the top and solid olive wood characterising the front of the counter. It is again the handcrafted dimension that finds confirmation in the furnishing accessories, such as the customised chandelier at the entrance by the Florentine workshop Il Bronzetto, which also created the Golden View sign designed by designer Gonzalo Sanchez: brass letters bathed in gold. Sanchez oversaw the brand's coordinated graphics in every aspect, from the logo to the menu. To the whimsy of the bar area, the rest of the premises responds with a more composed and monochromatic mood. The white with smoke nuances, for which various declinations of the collection designed by Piero Lissoni for Kerakoll Design House were used, becomes the rudder that directs the gaze and sculpts the spaces, expanding them.

The flagship cellar

The Golden View's wine cellar is considered the second most important one in the city centre; housed in a 15th-century fund that belonged to the Florentine Bardi family, it is naturally tempered and predisposed to preservation. Realised by architect Marta Sansoni, it is located in Via dei Bardi, below Costa San Giorgio. Today, it is a private space born out of the passion for wine of Tommaso Grasso who, together with his historic wine manager Paolo Miano, has found a place and given life to the bottles that can rest and age in an ideal place here. "The wine cellar is made up of around eight thousand bottles to be discovered and each of them has a soul to tell," explains Miano, who likes to define himself as a "sommelier narrator" and is also a tireless "wine hunter", at ease in telling about the most prestigious labels during tastings where the "Verticali" of the great "Super Tuscans" are proposed together with those of the "Brunellos" that underline the love for tradition and territory.

Photo Savorelli