The comeback of the Four Seasons in Florence starts with breakfast served in the room

The hotel in Borgo Pinti is open and charms its clients with a fabulous room service. Vito Mollica reveals his secrets

10-03-2021
American breakfast served in the room at the Fou

American breakfast served in the room at the Four Seasons in Florence. Curated by Vito Mollica

7.30 am. The telephone of the room service rings.
«Good morning Mr xxx, this is Emanuele, how can I help you?».
«I'd like to have breakfast served in my room, please».
«Of course, which one do you want? Continental breakfast, American or à la carte? How do you prefer your eggs? Poached, omelette, scrambled? Would you like some fruits of the forest with your fruit? What hot drink would you like? Coffee, tea or cappuccino? Fruit juice? Shall we make a fresh pressed orange juice? Thank you for your order. We'll be there in 30 minutes'».

Twenty-five minutes later, the room's doorbell rings. And Emanuele is there in person. Armed with smile, mask, purple gloves, and the Four Seasons uniform of gilet, shirt and tie. «Good morning, may I come in?». He slowly pushes a one-metre-wide table-trolley, wrapped in a crisp tablecloth almost touching the ground. He places it in front of the window overlooking the scenic Giardino della Gherardesca. Mandarins, maple trees and artworks scattered in the paths of the largest private park in town.

On one side of the trolley, hidden behind the tablecloth, there's a hole. Inside, there's a chafing dish from which Emanuele pulls out a plate with 3 pancakes. He places it in the only spot of the table left empty, completing a mosaic of some 20 plates, saucers and baskets with all sorts of delicacies. He lifts five cloches revealing the last marvels. Emanuele points at 2 o'clock. «The chef took the liberty of adding some bruschetta with tomato, a specialty emblematic of our region. Enjoy your breakfast».


Emanuele ready to serve breakfast in the room 

Emanuele ready to serve breakfast in the room 

At the Four Seasons in Florence they know how to give a good start to the day. The resort inside Borgo Pinti is one of the few larger hotels still open in Italy. We meet Vito Mollica, for 12 years now executive chef and F&B manager of a machine that, when fully running, serves 1,200 people per day, with 120 people at work for the catering alone, what with annual and seasonal workers. «Our team is now reduced», he explains, «but we're happy, mostly for two reasons: by keeping open we limit our losses, and we avoid furloughing many young people. Plus, we stimulate communication, which is essential for a business like ours».

In the 24 hours of my stay, there were many aspects worth analysing. The staycation, for instance, is surprisingly successful: «We have many clients», Mollica confirms, «who have decided to treat themselves to a night here. They're all from Tuscany and Florence. Some live only a few hundred metres from here. We've never really focused on locals, and it's a big satisfaction and offers food for thought». In the impulse of those who come here, there's the fact that Tuscany is now a "yellow" region and, above all, the only way to dine out now is to sleep in a hotel with restaurant.

And what a restaurant! Il Palagio, the flagship of the Four Seasons – one Michelin star for a decade now – is temporarily closed in its usual location. But you can order from the same menu sitting at the Atrium next door, the bar in which mixologist Tommaso Ondeggia will perhaps open the evening with a galactic Negroni, pride of the city. Then come the dishes from the chef from Basilicata, who also finds time to study cookbooks in between the daily management tasks. Above all, we'd like to recall the beautiful winter take of the neglected and very complex Cima alla genovese, the çímma of which Fabrizio De Andrè sung, a popular dish that here acquires regal traits. Or the memorable Bistecca di Chianina in the style of Bordeaux, that is to say cooked with red wine, with shallot, bone marrow and black truffle, cut and served at the table by the chef himself. The wines chosen by the talented Walter Meccia complete the picture.

In the middle, Vito Mollica, executive chef at the Four Seasons in Florence 

In the middle, Vito Mollica, executive chef at the Four Seasons in Florence 

Cavatelli cacio e pepe with calamaretti spillo and marinated red prawns. This is one of the dishes in the tasting menu at Il Palagio, starred restaurant at the Four Seasons in Florence

Cavatelli cacio e pepe with calamaretti spillo and marinated red prawns. This is one of the dishes in the tasting menu at Il Palagio, starred restaurant at the Four Seasons in Florence

Risotto with seafood and champagne

Risotto with seafood and champagne

Bar of hazelnut pralines and vin santo gelato

Bar of hazelnut pralines and vin santo gelato

But we'd like to focus on the room service. For two reasons: as never before clients have had such a strong desire to enjoy the intimacy “of their own quarters”. And most of all, room service – in the morning, afternoon or at night – has never been popular among Italians who often considered it as a second choice, with a different experience from the one “in presence” (often offered as a buffet, which is out of question during these covid times) and the low demand doesn't intrigue the offer.

Not at the Four Seasons. «In ordinary times», Mollica explains, «the room service involves 16 people over 24 hours. These resources are justified by the fact 40% of the guests choose this option, a very high percentage. They're mostly Arabic or English speaking and want to stay in the room with their partner, finish working, or watch a film...». The items in the breakfast menu must satisfy the palates of 5 continents. This is why it includes the Continental TuscanAmerican Breakfast and a long list of items à la carte, from Porridge with raisins and toasted almonds to White frittata with peperonata and toast with avocado. And there's the all-day menu too, which includes a blockbuster such as the Club sandwich, usually the most popular snack, or a 250-gram Chianina burger.

The staff doesn't only pay attention to the width and quality of breakfast and lunch. Before that, it's crucial to set a memorable minibar. Not only in terms of the content of the minibar, but also of all the frivolities that you can find on the table and bedside tables as soon as you arrive in the room or suite.

«If the fruit is not beautiful, or the minibar is neglected», Mollica explains the last golden rule, «as a hotel you're already making a bad start. This is your business card. The first impression that will affect the entire experience».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso 


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