Castello di Verrazzano is a small Tuscan wine estate near Greve in Chianti in the hills just south of Florence. I’ve lived in Italy for six months now and tried countless dishes, but the food at Castello di Verrrazzano is the best Italian food I’ve ever had in my entire life.

The Castello is named after the famous Italian explorer Giovanni Verrazzano born on the property in 1485. Verrazzano sailed from France to the US in 1523 and became the first European to reach New York Bay. In 1964 the Narrows Verrazzano bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island was named after him.

The estate produces traditional Chianti wine with different flavors and additionally has several other grapes making various types of reds and whites. The onsite restaurant with a patio in summer has a wood fire grill and beautifully decorated interior. The entire menu is extremely simple only using local ingredients many of which come from the property itself.

While most vineyards in Tuscany close for the winter, Castello di Verrazzano stays open all year from 8 am – 6 pm on weekdays and 12 – 3:30 pm on weekends.

Upon our arrival, we had an opportunity to try several Chianti and white wines before choosing our beverages. All the wines are sold by the glass or bottle with very reasonable prices.

Once settled, we ordered a mix plate of local cheeses and meats including boar salami and three different kinds of pecorino cheeses. They were all aged at different levels with the oldest aged in a local cave. The plate also came with “wine jelly” which was literally wine flavored sweet jelly which went perfectly with the bread and pecorino cheese.

I ordered the pici pasta al ragu with beef while my sister had the same dish but with boars meat. My parents both had the sausages and mixed game plate cooked over the wood fire. All of the meats were incredible especially the game plate which included wild pigeon. My pasta ragu, however, was out of this world. I’ve eaten at some restaurants that I would have said had “the best pasta in Italy”, but this was really the best pasta in Italy. It didn’t even compare to the rest. The local ingredients were just so much better than anything I could get in a city. Verrazzano is truly a farm to table operation.

By the time we finished there was no way we were going to tackle dessert so we just ordered a round of Moka-pot coffees with milk to wake us up from our collective food coma.

The wine was quite good at the Castello but because we planned to spend three more days in Tuscany we had no rush to purchase anymore from their store.

After lunch everyone was complementing me on my excellent choice in restaurants. Everything about this place made for an excellent experience, but I think the best part was the quality of service from the staff. One of the workers greeted us at the front of the property and spoke excellent English. Throughout our meal, he explained all the wines and how they are made. He told us detailed descriptions about all the menu items and explained their local ingredient philosophy. He even gave us a short history lesson on Giovanni Verrazzano. Our entire experience at Castello di Verrazzano was wonderful – hopefully you can impress your friends or family next by taking them to this classic Tuscan estate.