We spent this past Christmas in Florence, Italy with the couple who introduced me to the Ramen Marauder. We weren't sure what the holiday would be like, since most places would be closed, but it pleasantly surprised us - the city remained beautiful and bustling.
Florence is a cultural capital of Italy, so naturally the Ramen Marauder and I wanted to eat Asian food; however, I do not like to impose our Asian cravings on those who don't feel the itch like we do. But towards the end of our trip, our friends were kind enough to indulge us, and so we went to Com Saigon.
From the outside, Com Saigon appeared to have only 4 or 5 tables, but when we were taken to the back, we realized its capacity was at least double that. The restaurant was not crowded, though that could be because it was the day after Christmas.
The owner (or who I would assume to be the owner) seemed excited to host us Americans at his restaurant - I would guess that not many tourists choose to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant in Florence. He asked us whether we enjoyed the food and the coffee, we told him where we were from, and then he introduced us to the chef, who had come to Florence from Ho Chi Minh City.
I imagine it must be difficult to open a non-Italian restaurant in a city that is renown for its Italian culture, where people come from all over the world to experience Italy from head to toe. I'm not even sure the Italians around Florence eat anything that isn't Italian - it seems that not a single food trend had penetrated the dining scene. Big kudos to the owner for taking this delicious risk.
We all ordered the pho (naturally). The broth wasn't salty, and tasted hearty and, well, beef-y. It's characteristic of a lot of pho we've had in Europe, and I do wonder whether the use of MSG and additives is restricted. That being said, because of the rich beef flavor, it was clear that this broth was made with a ton of beef bones. We finished off the meal with a cup of Vietnamese coffee, which has been difficult to find.
Definitely worth it. Please take the time to go and support this restaurant!
Com Saigon, Via dell'Agnolo, 93 R, 50122 Florence, +39 055 263 8648