It was time for Mrs. Pie and me to take our Italian roadshow up north to the Tuscany region for a stay in Firenze (Florence). After another high-speed train ride, we checked into another Airbnb, and it was off for our first afternoon tourism adventure in this exciting city.
With no specific pizza plans, some quick internet research uncovered some rave reviews on Trip Advisor for Gusta Pizza. By sheer coincidence, it was just a few blocks from our pad in the hip district known as Oltrarno on the south side of the Arno River. Excited and hungry, we made a beeline there only to find them having just closed for the “riposo” afternoon shutdown time. Later.
It was easy to let our day in Florence to get the best of us. Before we knew it, daylight was almost gone, and I needed to first fulfil my promise to Mrs. Pie of a “non-pizza” dinner. However, that did not mean that we couldn’t close the evening out with a pizza nightcap at Gusta!
Somewhere between 9 and 10pm, we arrived to find Gusta’s rustic corner storefront looking quite lively. We made our way to the side door where we ordered at the counter, got our number (a lucky #100) and took stools at a tall table in the small room. Under the glass at our table was a collection of the paper number slips with hand-written notes of praise from happy customers.
Gusta is a pizza factory with a simple menu of only seven selections of Neapolitan pizza. We of course went plain with the Margherita which set us back only €5.00. Just behind the counter where we ordered was a team hard at work pushing and pulling pizzas out of a cool-looking oval-shaped, wood-burning brick oven. The place is owned and operated by the three Gusta Brothers who also have two other food places in the near proximity.
It wasn’t even five minutes before they shouted our #100, and I made my way to the counter to collect our pie. My first reaction was that it looked to have been made a bit hastily. It was not very round (a rather odd oblong shape) and the cheese was all clumped together slightly to one side. Served uncut, (along with a packaged plastic knife and fork) when we got to dissecting this one, one of our four derived slices actually wound up being cheese-less! What a shame! Aside from that, it had only a very slim layer of tomato sauce. The crust was puffy around the edges with some bubbled char marks on top. Those big edges allowed the sauce and oil to get a little soupy in the middle making for some soggy and droopy front tips to the slices we cut with the plastic knife. The bottom looked pretty clean without any real oven char to speak of.
Blemishes aside, it turned out to be a truly tasty pizza. Most notable was the sparkling distinctive salty taste of the crust. I could easily see why this pizza gets such good grades. It had great-tasting cheese and sauce as well. But like any exceptional Neapolitan pie, that remarkable crust was its true star.
Trying to squeeze this one in right after a full dinner didn’t work so well, and we wound up taking two of the four slices home. I must say that cold out of the fridge they did make for a nice tasty (and salty!) breakfast the next morning.
As our stay in Firenze went on, I would learn that Gusta was a quite popular place. For one, there always seemed to be a line outside that side door at all hours of the day. But, the other thing I noticed was the seemingly omnipresence of their colorful pizza box! Throughout our area, I would always see someone carrying a Gusta box. Also at night, there were many who chose to eat their Gusta pie al fresco on the steps of the nearby Basilica di Santo Spirito.
All in all, Gusta was a fine pizza place well-worthy of its reputation and full of character. (However, I would later come to the conclusion that it may not the best pizza in Firenze!) I did proudly make it home with one of their pizza boxes that I will forever treasure. You should make a point to visit Gusta if you are ever in Florence!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ****1/2 Nearer Perfection
Via Maggio, 46R
50125 Firenze, ITALY