Fratellini vs. Da’ Vinattieri
For rules, regulations and a fascinating review of sandwich history, see here.
Contestant 1: Fratellini
Via dei Cimatori 38/R, 50122 Florence, Italy (turn off Calzaiuoli in front of Orsanmichele – the street that St. John the Baptist is facing)Fratellini, as their website proudly proclaims, offers “Always Sandwiches!!!” (yes, three exclamation points). They have been around since 1875 according to said website and the sign above their hole-in-the-wall, one-stop sandwich stand. The name means “little brothers” and behind the counter you will always find two guys (squeezed in quite cozily!) producing sandwiches and glasses of wine at alarming rates. It is dead in the center of town and makes the perfect mid-museum or mid-class snack break. At the affordable price of 2.50Euro for a sandwich, it’s a no brainer. The men that work the counter are super friendly and the line, though it can look long, moves quickly.
Their sandwiches are very traditional Italian panini on the typical panino roll and include, at most, two or three toppings (though they don’t mind adding something at your request). We suggest going with the true blue menu for the authentic experience, but we understand the impulse to add that truffle cream to…umm…everything.
Seating is minimal but works: a lengthy stretch of sidewalk that has been supporting the butts of Fratellini clients for years. Have a glass of wine in a real glass and take advantage of their many sandwich options (those of you that are big eaters may need two anyway). Other than the sandwiches we ordered, favorites include: porchetta (roast pork), truffle pecorino, and a vegetarian option of grilled veggies. For Frat’s final scores we chose on the Spicy Salami sandwich (a crowd favorite as some of you may remember). Here’s the visual breakdown:
Contestant 2: Da’ Vinattieri
Via Santa Margherita 4/R, Florence, Italy (small alley off the Corso and Via Dante Alighieri, right next door to Dante’s church)Da’ Vinattieri, like Fratellini, is the real-deal hole-in-the-wall. It is tucked away in a little alley next to the famous church of Dante and Beatrice, directly off the Corso (see map below). You can’t miss it if you walk by at lunch time or really any time on a Sunday as a small crowd will be hovering outside either waiting to order, waiting to receive said order, or enjoying their already delivered aforementioned order. There are usually a few stools and some adorable bikes that have been fitted with tables if you don’t want to sit on the curb. It’s just enough room for a wine glass, which is all you really need. Da’ Vinattieri customers are almost all locals or, at the very least, Italians in town for the day. Their Trip Advisor reviews– all good – are all in Italian, so you know this place is legit.
Sandwiches tend to have a few more toppings than Fratellini, but are also about a euro more (3.50-4 Euro). They do have some particularly interesting combos that include additions like a splash of balsamic vinegar, blue cheese, figs, lard, and even nuts. While we know it can’t count towards their official scores, it is worth mentioning that DV has a slew of other exciting sides such as cocoli, which are little balls of fried bread that are eaten with a soft cheese (stracchino) and prosciutto or stuffed with meat. HIGHLY recommended if you see them on any menu.
We tried two different sandwiches. Final scores were based on the Porchetta sandwich (our fav). Here’s the visual breakdown:
1. Taste: 7.5 points (out of 10)
Great bread, always very fresh and at the right time of day, still warm. Nice ingredients, all fresh and all delicious though perhaps less exciting once you’ve been to DV.
2. Cost: 5 points (out of 5)
Very cheap (though the porchetta was one of the sandwiches that cost 4Euro).
3. Location and general experience: 4 points (out of 5)
Standard sidewalk. Didn’t bother us at all until we saw DVs little bikes (yes, we’re suckers).
Total: 16.5 points out of 20 = 82.5%
1. Taste: 9 points (out of 10)
A couple key points; the bread is on schiaciatta, not a roll and is very good and fresh. The ingredients are delicious and just a bit more imaginative and flavorful than Frat. They also have several ingredients that we think are essential to a complete Tuscan sandwich menu, such as lard and finocchiona (salami made with fennel seeds).
2. Cost: 4 points (out of 5)
A little more than frat (but still well within a student budget)
3. Location and general experience: 4.5 points (out of 5)
Bike-tables and chairs can make a big difference, plus they are under a passageway, which means eating even in the rain.
Total: 17.5 points out of 20 = 87.5%
THE WINNER IS:
DA’ VINATTIERI!!Check in next month for Battle #2!