Still on the quest for authentic wood-fire oven pizza I searched out a few more contenders after the electric ovens at Pizza Napoli 1955 put a slight spanner in the works. One place that people really raved about yet I hadn’t come across in the typical tourist guides was a spot called Livio on the Via Nazionale. Tapping the address into google maps showed that we were only a 10 minute walk away. We had found dinner.
Walking to Livio was pure torture. Not because it was hot or because it was difficult or far but the sheer amount of good restaurants you pass on the way. I couldn’t help do that peeking action at people’s plates that you do when you pass a restaurant with outdoor seating. Everything looked so good.
Eyes firmly on the prize – and with good reason. Livio is quite literally a hole-in-the-wall type place but at the same time everything you could hope for from a pizzeria. Small, limited menu, wood-fired oven and easy to walk by without even noticing. Take a walk through the leather stalls at San Lorenzo Market and you should come face-to-face with Livio, ideal for a budget lunch of high quality after an afternoon of shopping.
The staff at the restaurant were young guys and very pleasant. Both spoke limited English but easy to understand occasionally mixed with my basic Italian. From my vantage point I could clearly see the pizza’s being freshly made and tossed into the hot clay oven for roughly 60 seconds a time. Proper pizza.
It’s just like being back in Naples here, which must have influenced my decision to order the Bufala pizza (€8/£7.16) yet again, a Neapolitan specialty. Ali opting for another Naples favourite – the Margherita at €5.50 (£4.92). I watched as people came in to collect pre-ordered pizza’s which I had seen being made entirely by hand. Even on the menu they explain how the dough is slowly proved over a period of 36 hours to enhance the flavour. A real show of pride in their work.
When ordering pizza one must order a beer – a simple rule of thumb. So we landed two Peroni’s each at €5 (£4.47) for a medium. Soon after, our pizza’s arrived hot, fresh and smelling incredible. One review of this place stated that ‘this is the pizza you come to Italy for’ absolutely spot on – this was epic.
The wood-fired oven is the real game changer. The addition of that smoky hit on the cheese and crust is just something you cannot replicate in a regular oven. The pizza’s were perfect and I could do with one right now just writing about it. Not to mention the value! Less than a £5 for a Margherita? Incredible in a city like Florence.
Just as the restaurant began to fill we finished up and paid the bill €25.50 (£22.82) inclusive of €1(£0.89) each cover charge, which is outstanding value for the quality of food. Under the counter they do sell pizza by the slice but come on, get yourself the real deal hot and fresh made by a master. Forget the overpriced imitations that you get around the tourist traps, seek out Livio and have an experience to remember and enough change for an ice cream after.