Simone Arnetoli & Laura Tosotti
With ToscaNino, Simone and Laura wanted to internationalise the typical products of Tuscan tradition by involving more than 150 producers of excellence. The heart of their mission is serving food, but they also showcase crafts and furnishings.
A first-generation entrepreneur, and restaurateur by passion, Simone Arnetoli is the face and soul of ToscaNino together with his wife, Laura, who enriched the project with taste and creativity. “I started 25 years ago with the Galateo catering business. Then I had a rather big intuition,” Simone recalls.
“I was walking around New York and I noticed a place with a sign saying Pizzeria Toscana. It sounded weird to me. Isn’t the pizza par excellence Neapolitan? Instead, I understood that it was the Tuscan brand that made the difference.” And so the plan to give life to ToscaNino was born: two typical names of the territory that, linked together, are a guarantee of quality. The actual business was established three years ago, a project with catering at the centre to bring the excellence of Tuscan cuisine outside the region. But ToscaNino is not only tasty gourmet foods, Tuscany is expressed through the work of many other artisans and producers. “The ceramics of Montespertoli, the knives of Scarperia, the marble of Carrara, the straw hats of Florence, the wool of Casentino, the copper, the baskets of Buti, the glass of Empoli, the leather of Santa Croce, linens, fabrics, candles, the terracotta of Impruneta, the crystal of Colle Val d’Elsa. More than 150 producers of excellence who have never altered the purity of their brands.”
Customers who visit ToscaNino today find themselves in front of restaurant-cafes where, in addition to eating, they can choose products they are interested in from the shelves and take them home.
Alongside this formula there is also the ToscaNino Academy, a fully-fledged academy that trains staff - who often have no Tuscan roots - to convey news, skills and a totally Tuscan passion. “In addition, we organise cooking classes, master classes and themed events.”
In designing ToscaNino, Simone made the acquaintance of Massimo Giaccherini during a business meeting. There was a positive feeling right from the start. “Since I really wanted everything to be “made in Tuscany”, the furnishings could not be an exception. We have deepened our knowledge with Aba, a structured company that has been in the business for many years and is already in its third generation. We liked this right from the start: longevity is already synonymous with quality.” Visiting the company from Arezzo, Simone was pleasantly surprised by the large “integrated” production capacity: all of the products are made on the company’s premises, from carpentry to painting, from steel to glass.
“This represents a guarantee of a truly tailor-made product. Working with the Giaccherini family is a pleasure; a friendship was immediately established. In the final phase of the works, Massimo’s daughter Rebecca has followed us a lot. She has dedicated special attention to us and has been with us in a constant and timely way.”
The experience which ToscaNino offers customers aims to delight all 5 senses: colours, aromas, flavours, materials and music of the Tuscan tradition.
“I never thought of ToscaNino as a restaurant or a cafe, but rather I wanted it to look like a house, a home to welcome and receive friends.”
“What we didn’t want was to create an aseptic place,” says Laura Tosetti, Simone’s wife and partner who, through drawing after drawing, communicated the atmosphere that she wanted her customers to feel. “I never thought of ToscaNino as a restaurant or a cafe, but rather I wanted it to look like a house, a home to welcome and receive friends.” Hints of that can be found in the various sales points including the bar counter made of old barrels in which you can still see the typical colour of burgundy marc released over time by the grapes. Then there is the specialised kitchen, with a vintage pantry created by Gullo. In the room of each locale, there are different woods and tables and small touches of craftsmanship and imagination. Decisive colours with warm, natural hues: the greens of cypress and new olive oil, burnt Siena, cornstarch yellow. Tuscan chairs “dressed for the evening”, reimagined traditional furniture, lighting fixtures designed and made with ancient objects. “There is also a difference in the choice of wood because even the furniture must be textural,” Laura points out.
At first Simone and Laura thought of directing their work exclusively – or almost exclusively – abroad, but then things went differently. “Two years ago, we opened in Milan, in Porta Venezia, where we wanted to test the formula. Last year we created another locale on the top floor of the Rinascente in Florence. And last July, a bistro and restaurant in The Mall in the Florentine hinterland.”
The future of ToscaNino will still be outside of Italy, but always alongside Aba. Meanwhile, their Tuscan partners, who already live and work abroad, are eagerly awaiting the start of this new stage of the project. Bordeaux, Amsterdam, London and Berlin are the cities where ToscaNino already has a foot in the door and where it is preparing to land.
“Since I really wanted everything to be “made in Tuscany”, the furnishings could not be an exception.”
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› Tosca&Nino | Milano
› Tosca&Nino | La Rinascente | Firenze
› Tosca&Nino Bistrot | The Mall | Leccio (FI)
› Tosca&Nino Casa Colonica| The Mall | Leccio (FI)