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It’s a bookshop. It’s a cafe. It’s a quiet vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Florence.
It took a little bit of searching to find Libreria Brac. We got turned around and a little lost on our way. I should say, I got us turned around and a little lost on our way. Justin only knew that we were going to a vegetarian spot for lunch. I had us wandering around what seemed like every side street in Florence. After many zigzags back and forth, we walked down a really quiet and narrow road. The numbers on the buildings didn’t seem to follow any particular order. It was easy to miss; there was no sign above the door. If you were just walking past, you’d never know what was inside.
We arrived right when the restaurant opened for lunch. Even though Brac was tucked away in a hidden locale, it was only a couple blocks away from the most touristy and bustling areas. It was truly a blissful hideaway in a busy metropolis. The front space of the restaurant functioned as a bar and cafe. What really made this restaurant space special was the inner courtyard. To reach the main restaurant, we had to walk through this courtyard. A rainbow of pastel streamers hung down from the rooftop. Bicycles and plants lined the walls. Random works of art, racks of zines, and other kitschy design elements were strategically placed all around. Something about it made me want to twirl around with glee.
If you aren’t visiting for a meal, you could pull up a chair and enjoy a coffee or smoothie in this bright and joyous space. You could even get some work done on your laptop – there’s free WiFi.
Our table was in the back room, which functioned as a dining area and a bookshop. It really felt as though we were dining at a library, except there wasn’t that musty, old book smell. Books on art, photography, and design filled the shelves from floor to ceiling. The ceiling itself had grand, swooping archways.
Even though there was only one other couple in the room while we were there, don’t be fooled. You might be able to get away without making a reservation for lunch. For dinner, I’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to get in without calling ahead. It’s a popular place, mostly for locals seeking a secluded sanctuary and a great meal.
On the menu, there were plenty of wholesome choices that were entirely vegetarian. Thankfully for us, there were quite a few vegan options. All of the fresh pasta noodles were vegan without egg. It was pretty easy to spot which meals were vegan and which ones weren’t. If you have any doubts, be sure to ask your server. Everyone who worked at Libreria Brac was attentive, polite, friendly, and helpful.
It was difficult to choose. I ordered a pasta that had an oil and garlic sauce, oven-dried tomatoes, and crunchy bread crumbs with parsley on top. Justin ordered something light, but delicious – a mixed green salad with walnuts and balsamic dressing. We ended up sharing the two plates. Well, he tried a bite of my pasta and needed to have more…and a little more. The oil and garlic sauce wasn’t heavy, the bread crumbs added a delightful crunch, and the tomatoes were bursting with flavor. If I had to choose, I think this was the best pasta I ate throughout my entire three weeks in Italy.
Not only was the food amazing, but we adored the tranquil ambiance in such a busy city. There are art events, book readings, and live music nights. Though we didn’t try any beverages, there’s an extensive coffee and herbal tea list, as well as a lengthy wine list.
Libreria Brac is a relaxing place to meet friends or enjoy a romantic meal for two. We appreciated both the calm atmosphere and the flavorful cuisine. It was hip and artsy without being pretentious. While eating my meal with a view of the colorful courtyard, I couldn’t help but have a smile on my face.
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