Concocting a mixture of gastronomy, books and design, Ora d’Aria’s chef Marco Stabile represents his region while keeping up with the pace of progress
A library can find its place in a Michelin restaurant. This is the case for Ora d’Aria, in Florence. Originally located in front of the ancient prison Le Murate, in 2010 it moved to Via dei Georgofili, near the city center. The name of the restaurant winks at the original location, referring to the hour that inmates were given to exercise outdoors daily. Today, it takes a new meaning, indicating the time spent inside the restaurant tasting, savoring and reading.
«We’ve had a library inside the restaurant since the very beginning», chef Marco Stabile explains. «There, we have books and magazines covering us, our culture and our region». It’s a space for interaction: «Clients appreciate our library, as they enjoy reading something while waiting for dinner», he continues. Books can be purchased directly there. One of them is «L’ora stabile», written by Leonardo Castellucci — the story of chef Stabile and his restaurant.
That story started in 2005 with five associates, and now includes a collaboration between Marco and Luca Bellandi, originally a textile entrepreneur from the area around Prato. Protagonists of this story are also tradition, innovation, and utmost attention for all the elements that contribute to the Ora d’Aria experience. For instance, «the balance of spaces is fundamental: they are in fact one of the major factors of comfort. We wanted simplicity infused with complexity, a minimalist environment that could make people feel at home», Stabile explains.
In order to achieve a representation of the integrity, depth and quality of Italian gastronomy that manages to keep up with the pace of progress, different elements are required. Design is one of them. Ora d’Aria Florence has an open kitchen with only a large sliding glass door that divides the guest room from the chef. But the restaurant also flaunts French parquet and plaster walls. A variety of styles and materials coexist in this space: «Our architect Mariella Corsi, working at Archbstudio, combined the classic decor of Florentine noble palaces with the aesthetics of modernity», Stabile underlines.
Elegance and savoir-faire are the key words for Marco Stabile. «Our aim is to arouse emotions and memories, such as remembering food tasted at your grandma’s as a child, or the first encounter with intense flavors», he points out. «Taste comes first, as I believe it can leave a lasting mark in our memory. That’s why we want to leave our guests with the flavor of the Florence of both the past and future».
Awarded with a Michelin star in December 2011, Ora d’Aria Florence strives to introduce local tradition to a broader international public. «Foreigners fall heads over heels in love with our culture. Being able to represent this excellence is both a pleasure and a responsibility» Stabile reveals. «We aim to transmit it to an educated, cosmopolitan audience that feels empathy and appreciation for Italian arts».
Guests can the story of Ora d’Aria Florence, but they can also see behind a glass wall Stabile preparing modern variations of classic Tuscan food. One dish that Marco holds dear to his heart is the rich L’uovo, le uova e la gallina: i riti della nonna Toscana (“Egg, eggs and hen: Tuscan grandmother rituals”). «It’s a dish that captures and homages the mastery exhibited by Italian grandmas in preparing meals for special celebrations», he explains. «Never forget that each and every ingredient has value and that we must respect abundance and famine».
Via dei Georgofili, 11R