Florence | The Works Canteen

An extraordinary restaurant opened in the Florentine suburbs a few months ago. It’s a case of split personality, in which the modest canteen hall of a working silverware factory is transmogrified as the sun sets to become the city’s coolest eatery, offbeat and even surreal. Like a respectable Dr. Jekyll whose Mr. Hyde is tongue-in-cheek outlandish. Tables are lavishly set with home-made silver cutlery and candelabra, a ceiling lamp in the form of the hammer and sickle testifies to the staunch communist tradition of the Tuscan workforce, and daytime metalworkers wait on in unlikely livery and white gloves.

In Fabbrica is an aristocratic eccentricity, the brainchild of the Brothers Pampaloni, they of the superb silverware, jewellery and porcelain creations, long-established in Florence and coveted the world over. Gianfranco Pampaloni is well-known for visionary projects and outside-the-box thinking, and this is no exception. The entrance to In Fabbrica is through the offices and then the factory itself, glass of wine in hand. The cuisine is communist-cum-Japanese, responsability in the kitchen being shared by a silversmith with culinary propensities and the one exotic acquisition, chef Huigi San. Choice of dishes is limited, indeed the menu is practically fixed as is the price: including wine €35 for men and €30 for women at the last count. If it’s an experience more than a dinner, it’s still an unmissable one.