I have never understood the fixation with Tuscany, and this is from someone who is a confirmed ‘Italianophile’, and has visited Italy more than any other country.
Maybe it’s a North/South thing, with the Northerner and I firmly favouring Napoli, Sicily, Calabria and Sardinia over its posh northern counterparts. Maybe it’s because the North is Romeo and Juliet to the South’s Godfather.
Regardless, we’ve always enjoyed the food, and Tuscanic, as the name suggests, not only celebrates the region after which it is named, but also transports the long-forgotten tradition of merende, a snack favoured by older-generation Italians, to the heart of Soho.
The simplicity of Italian dining is represented in Tuscanic’s menu – soups and breads, charcuterie, and a cheese board as appetisers – through to its price range, with most items costing in the early teens.
Tuscanic is good looking in an understated way. Everything in the stripped-back space has been carefully designed and / or imported from Italy. The striking floor is apparently made from leftover marble grains; the tables and chairs are made with the grape-stained interiors of recycled wine barrels, whilst the counter is made from their exteriors. The clean white walls show off a series of black-and-white photographs of traditional Tuscan foods. The diners when we visited were most European and / or tourists, after something fun, tasty, and informal.
And in that regard Tuscanic certainly delivers. The soup, followed by the selections of meats and cheeses were deliciously simple. The merende (a Panini to you and me) was very tasty, although it was unusual to be having one for dinner. And that make sense when you realise that by definition, it’s an afternoon snack. The wine, as with everything else, is all from Tuscany, and not the sort of bottles you’ll find easily in your local supermarket. Or Majestic for that matter. Our personal favourite was the Alfeo Bolgheri Superiore, Ceralti.
Tuscanic does what it says on the box. It delivers good, simple Tuscany produce, with the charm and casual efficiency that you find throughout Italy. It is odd to eat a toasted sandwich for dinner, and with the produce-stocked shelves, it can feel like you are eating in a deli rather than a restaurant. But that is the point of Tuscanic, and it means that you should probably reconsider your view of how you dine out.
Much like I should reconsider my view of Northern Italy.