Hidden in a tiny alleyway steps from the Museo Galileo is a colorful storefront with a particular name: L'Areperia. "Areperia" is the Italian translation of "Arepera" which is a traditional Venezuelan fast food joint serving, what else? Arepas.
This gem of a restaurant opened in the spring of 2015, and is run by a group of smiling Venezuelan expats, who have been living in Italy for years. Running the show is Sonia, who not only manages the restaurant but also oversees the kitchen, which whips up the most authentic Venezuelan creations on this side of the Atlantic (take it from us, we're from Caracas).
Appetizers range from delicious "tequeños" (fried cheese sticks), to empanadas (pastries filled with meat), to pastelitos (puff pastries filled with chicken). The extensive menu also has all the basic traditional Venezuelan dishes you could think of, including Pabellon (the official national dish consisting of rice, black beans, shredded beef and plantains), and even Hallacas (corn meal filled with a slow-cooked meat stew eaten traditionally at Christmas), all washed down with the traditional soft drink, Frescolita (oftentimes too sweet for non-South Americans), or Venezuelan beer Polar (to be served ice-cold).
But the real protagonist here is the arepa: a round, crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside corn meal dough, filled with a number of ingredients such as shredded beef with cheese, black beans and Venezuelan cheese, chicken salad and avocado, and more. Beware, though: these little bundles of heaven look innocent, but are a delicious bomb of carbs that expand in your stomach. After one or two appetizers, eating more than one arepa may be just too much, and not leave enough room for dessert!
Being at L'Areperia is truly like being in a Venezuelan home, where Sonia and her team take the time to make everything from scratch, so patience is key... enjoy a wonderful and unique meal in Florence on "Venezuelan time."
L'Areperia, via della Mosca 1R, 3R, Tel: 055 217358 (Closed on Mondays).