"I Was Thinking It Would Be Worse"
I had planned on eating at Pensavo Peggio since before we arrived in Florence. Before our trip, I spent time reading reviews on Yelp to come up with a list of potential restaurants to enjoy within walking distance of our hotel. Pensavo Peggio was one that made the cut.
The restaurant was a six-minute walk from our hotel, on Via del Moro, a narrow street off Piazza Carlo Goldoni. The interior of the restaurant was a welcoming blend of earth tones and warm lighting. The orange walls were decorated with black and white framed photos from the 1950s and 60s, all showing men and women slurping spaghetti with marinara sauce (or ‘gravy,’ as Chris’s family would call it).
You wouldn’t know at first that the quick-moving waiter with the black hair and beard was also the owner. Hustling up and down the stairs, taking orders and busing tables, Fabrizio is an energetic and good-humored man. After greeting us, he led us upstairs to our seats, took our drink orders, and gently corrected Chris’s Italian when he used the word for a coffee cup to ask for a glass of wine. At many restaurants, the staff would either speak English, or play along with our attempts to speak Italian, sometimes glossing over our errors. It meant a lot to us that Fabrizio took the time to engage with us in Italian!
Seated on the upper floor near a wrought-iron railing, we had a view into the first floor kitchen. While we sipped our wine, I caught glimpses of the chef expertly plating meals for other patrons, spooning sauces, chopping onions, and clearing space for the next dish.
We enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Pensavo Peggio so much that we returned there twice more during our two weeks in Florence.. Our favorites were the osso buco, which we had with a Caprese salad, and the homemade lasagna.
I had never eaten osso buco, so this was a fun new experience. The marrow was sweet and flavorful, and by the time I finished all that was left was a clean plate and the circular bone. Chris thoroughly enjoyed the meal, particularly the sauce that we guessed contained crushed tomatoes, carrots, and maybe a very little bit of celery.
Chris told Fabrizio that the osso buco sauce tasted very close to a dish his mom used to make. “You make me so happy!” Fabrizio beamed.
Our other favorite, the homemade lasagna, more than lived up to its name. While it’s easy to print “homemade” on a menu, it’s much more difficult to achieve. The lasagna was excellent, and just a little different than we were accustomed to. Instead of a tomato sauce, the layers of house-made pasta were surrounded with melty ricotta cheese and sautéed ground beef. The tops were sprinkled with mozzarella and parmesan, and served still sizzling from the oven.
We would speak briefly with Fabrizio after our meals, trying our Italian and chatting about food, the restaurant business, and gardening while while enjoying limoncello at the front counter. He had been in business 6 years, and takes pride in the authenticity of his Tuscan cuisine. While many other restaurants offer a spin on classic dishes, Pensavo Peggio exemplifies the traditional Italian menu.
I had a question for him.
I had tried to translate the name of his restaurant using an app on my phone, translation of “pensavo peggio” was coming out weird. Since Fabrizio had been so helpful correcting our Italian, I decided to ask him what it meant.
“Ah,” he said, eyes darting upward thoughtfully. “I’m not sure how you would say in English.”
He paused. “It means ‘I was thinking it would be worse.’ That something is not as bad as you thought. As in, ‘oh that wasn’t so bad!'”
When we were ready to leave on our final night at Pensavo Peggio, I asked Fabrizio if he would take a selfie with us. He looked at me confused, and I realized that he had no idea what a selfie was. So I pulled out my phone and said “fotografia?”
We took a fun picture with Fabrizio and his wife at the front counter to remember our fun experiences there, and Pensavo Peggio will be one of our first stops the next time we’re in Florence.