Before we went to Florence for our recent family trip, my dad who is a ridiculous holiday planner, literally to the minute (think Jack Byrnes – Meet the Parents) asked if there was anything I specifically wanted to do while we were there, my only reply was ‘eat heart shaped pizza’. Spotted over a year ago on Instagram, heart shaped pizzas can be found in a very random little pizza place called Gusta Pizza. Despite planning the entire trip, Nige made the massive error of planning our visit to Gusta Pizza for the Monday, when they’re closed. Cue a massive panic on his part, and a lot of reshuffling of activities and we were venturing back across Florence to Piazza Santo Spirito the following day to try get our hands on a heart shaped pizza for a second time.
My sister Caroline and myself approached Gusta, a cute looking restaurant with outside tables just round the corner from the Piazza Spirito square with wrought iron hearts sticking out from the wall. This must be it, Gusta, and hearts. We got a table for the four of us while we waited for the parents to get there, and started to browse the menu. It was huge, with plenty of Italian specialities and a good wine selection on offer. But no pizza.
Having already been disappointed I didn’t get my heart shaped pizza the day before, I wasn’t about to let typical British politeness stand in my way of what I was after. ‘Excuse me, do you do pizza?’ I’m pretty sure I barked at the poor woman. ‘No’ – was the swift reply. What the hell? Totally confused by this entire situation, the woman comes back and says ‘Gusta Pizza is down the street’. Apologising profusely, lol jokes, when her back was turned me and Caroline legged it out the restaurant and down the street never to return.
We found the real Gusta Pizza as she had said, further down the street. It was basically a doorway in one of a thousand similar yellow looking walls you find in Florence, but it had the same wrought iron heart up above the doorway. The two restaurants must be owned by the same people, so I did feel slightly less guilty for running out of the other one. The unmistakable smell of pizza was wafting out of the door, and the noise coming from inside also filtered over the heads of the steadily forming queue of people on the street.
A few people were coming out with pizza boxes to takeaway, which slightly panicked me a bit as I could hardly see Viv sitting on a curb eating pizza out a box for lunch. We joined the queue, frantically texting Nige and Viv to try and direct them to the door in the wall where we were waiting. The menu was slapped up on the window of the door, so when they finally arrived we could decide what we wanted. It sounds boring, but we all went for classic Italian margarita. I think we were all scared we would balls the whole thing up again. I just wanted to be sure I’d get a heart, as we had all read that it’s luck of the draw if you actually get one. I figured the simple margarita gave us the best chance.
Standing in the queue and moving inside we realised that it was actually a lot bigger than the tiny little entrance and counter we were met with initially. The restaurant spans across two rooms, with basic tables and big barrels to sit at, perched on high stools. The open kitchen had one enormous pizza oven, and about four guys frantically throwing pizzas together with various toppings and serving them up to the crowd of hungry people waiting. All over the walls were photos of Gusta Pizza guests going back years, it clearly has a reputation for being good, and the amount of people they served in the hour we were in there just confirmed it.
We ordered ours and were given a ticket with our number on, and I decided once I saw a number of pizzas whizz past in the typical boring round shape, that I wasn’t about to risk not getting it heart shaped, so just asked the guy outright. He laughed and drew a big heart around our order. The only waiter that wasn’t making pizzas in the place came over and asked if we would be sitting in or taking away, and I could see Nige’s stress levels rising in the tiny little space so said we would definitely be sitting in.
He took us over to a big barrel in the corner, where we got up on the stools under the fan and waited for our number to be called. Caroline went off to get some cold beers from the help yourself fridge, and finally our piping hot, freshly made, HEART SHAPED PIZZAS came our way smelling unreal. Yesssss!
After plenty photographing, Instagramming, Snapchatting and carefully choosing the most perfectly shaped heart pizza for myself, we finally got to eat them. It was quite frankly, the most delicious margarita pizza I have ever had the pleasure of wolfing down in my entire life, and if you ever go to Florence you absolutely have to go.
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