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The Fat Tuscan Cafe
Today Closed
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725 NE 1st St Gainesville, FL 32601
725 Northeast 1st StreetUSFloridaGainesville32601
$$Cafe, Italian Restaurant
Italian Restaurant
Health Food Restaurant
Today Closed
Monday ClosedTuesday 11:00 am – 9:00 pmWednesday 11:00 am – 9:00 pmThursday 11:00 am – 9:00 pmFriday 11:00 am – 10:00 pmSaturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pmSunday Closed
European inspired cafe serving fresh Lunch & Dinner items. Located in Downtown's Historic District inside the beautifully restored Vidal House, ca 1908. Courtyard seating available.
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Review Summary
25 reviews
5 star
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4 star
7 reviews
3 star
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2 star
4 reviews
1 star
2 reviews
Italian eatery offering comfort fare & cocktails, plus a happy hour & live music in historic digs.- Google
"Their homemade sangria is the best and goes well with all meals!"
"The Fat Tuscan, is a cute restaurant in a beautifully restored old house."
6 reviewers
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Caroline Murray
a month ago
The Fat Tuscan is by far my favorite restaurant in Gainesville for both lunch and dinner. There is a back patio strung with lights and it is so fun to eat out there at night. The service is great, all the waiters and waitresses offer their insight as to what's best on the menu. The food for both lunch and dinner is never a disappointment, there is nothing on the menu that I have ever ordered and disliked. Their homemade sangria is the best and goes well with all meals! Overall, The Fat Tuscan is a Gainesville classic that everyone must visit.
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Joe Lucchetti
11 months ago
I would rather go to Applebees. To start with, the atmosphere is odd... at best. It is in a converted house, and feels like it. When you walk in, you have to meander around the house until you find the cash register/kitchen. Which is fine. I guess. I love a greasy spoon. Hole in the wall restaurants are some of my favorite. But the food should be reasonably priced and should really deliver. We ordered the spicy shrimp arrabbiata and the fromage a trois. The fromage a trois is pasta shells stuffed with ricotta, topped with bechamel and mozza. If you like eating huge spoonfuls of ricotta, this could be fine. But the bechamel that topped it was slightly grainy and pretty bland. There was very little mozza on top, and it was pretty low quality. Maybe it had been kept at the wrong temperature? It was plastic-y like bad frozen pizza cheese . But cheese is expensive, and there was a lot of ricotta in this dish. Not saying it was worth the $14 pricetag, but if I really loved ricotta $9 or so wouldn't be unreasonable. But oh man. Their shrimp arrabbiata was a massive letdown. There were a total of 5 large (probably 26/30ish count) shrimp. That were almost certainly previously frozen. Five. 5. On a $15 plate of food. 2 of which had their tails fully intact, 2 of which had no tails at all. And one had all but the last little bit of its tail on. Getting a huge mouthful of shrimp shell when you don't expect it is not a pleasant experience. (Don't get me wrong. Deep fried amaebi heads (from, e.g., Mahzu Sushi) are fantastic! But shrimp shells have to be the right species, they have to be done right, and you have to expect it.) But even if there were more shrimp and even if they were better and more consistent (which are BIG buts!), the dish still would have been mediocre. The sauce was extremely bland. There was almost no flavor. Literally, a bottle of Bertolli store bought pasta sauce manages more robust flavors. I'll give them that the pasta was done a nice al dente, which is not always the case at bigger chains. Overall, there is just no way I would ever go back, or ever recommend it to anyone. Not only would it still be expensive at even half the price, it would still be bland and boring.
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Cindy Long
a year ago
We made reservations thinking we were in for a real treat, but actually it was a nasty trick. And it's not even Halloween yet. We walked up a dark, narrow sidewalk leading to stairs we could barely see. We attempted to come in the front entrance, but the sign directed us to this side entrance. * As we walked in we were not greeted, we had no idea where to go. Finally the 'hostess' said we could sit 'here' and here being a high traffic area. So we asked if we could sit off to the corner where there was a table for two. She slammed some silverware on the table and left. The server, who was spacey as they come, could not really banter with us. I ordered the house wine, which was so bad you wouldn't even call it cooking wine. We ordered and waited. I asked for another glass of wine, an upgrade from the house swill. She saw my half empty glass and didn't bother to ask if there was a problem. We waited some more. At about 45 minutes into this, I went to the back of the house (because it is a house) where there was a bar laden with DIRTY DISHES! And next to the dirty dishes was our appetizer!! I asked whoever was there (I think the hostess person and a few kitchen workers) what was taking so long, doing my best to ignore what our food was sitting in the middle of. The server brought it out with a smile and no apology. Five minutes later the entree arrived and she quipped, it's really coming out fast now! So an hour into this debacle we had the tiniest entree for a pasta dish I have ever seen, at the hefty price of $15.00, a limp and sad salad and a small slice of bread wet with the dressing on it laying IN the salad. When I asked for a box because the anti-pasta was actually fairly good and I wanted to take home the cheeses leftover, she brought a box, the check and NEVER CLEARED A DISH. I put an empty bottle of beer on the floor and the used dishes on the table next to us to clear them from our table. And we were serenaded not by the musician playing beautifully outside, but by dishes crashing and loud kitchen noises. It's really a high rent version of a sandwich shop tailor made for the students, who were in abundance faces glued to their smart phones. * We asked about why the front entrance was not being used (this was when we first got there, before we realized we'd made a really bad choice. We were just wondering why and we were friendly about it.) She told us it did not meed ADA standards and the govt was driving her crazy. But the interesting this is that dark walkway and steps could not be ADA compliant either. It doesn't make sense. You have been warned. I wish I had been. It was awful. Just awful. Expensive lesson learned.
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Kevin H
3 years ago
Very slow service - took 30 minutes to get a water, over an hour to get food, and 15 mins to get the check. Food was messy - Half of my lettuce was wilted, the grilled shrimp wasn't grilled, and some of our bread had little bits of slimy stuff stuck on it (I'm hoping it was cheese). On the plus side, the setting is really nice and the food options were interesting.
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William Davis
a year ago
I have been to the Fat Tuscan several times and it has a great atmosphere and good food. DO NOT expect fast service for full meals. It is a cafe which means that you should expect to talk with your friends and/or partners, and enjoy a slow, relaxing meal in a nice friendly place.
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Anthony Monaco
a year ago
There are "no surprises" at this venerable Gainesville restaurant, just "unforgettable" Italian food; which as a New Yorker now living in Gainesville, is hard to find. Chef/Owner Michelle and her staff makes guests feel "really at home". The café is located in the 1908 Vidal house in Gainesville's Downtown Historic District. If you do not want to dine inside, the outdoor seating is a touch of the cafés in Italy. On this occasion my meal started with House Baked Focaccia with herbed oil and balsamic vinegar “Awesome”. Followed by a salad served with baked herb focaccia bread. I am a basil pesto fan, BUT, the Arugula Pesto Pasta brought a new meaning to having a pesto sauce. The Angel hair pasta was made with Arugula Pesto, raisins, walnuts, slices of tomatoes and I added the shrimp to make this complete “magnificent”. I could not finish the pasta, so now I have lunch for two days. The food was plentiful. My dining experience ended with a double espresso and almond biscotti.
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Response from the owner - a year ago
Thank you so much Anthony for your wonderful review of our little cafe. We definitely put a lot of love and passion into our food. Next Coffee and biscotti is on me! - Michelle, Owner/Chef
Jamie Buckner
a year ago
Friendly staff can't compensate for the limited menu, mediocre food and slow service. Don't plan a special occasion celebration here. Reservations made two weeks prior to date for garden seating were not honored and management was unapologetic and downright rude. Too many other restaurants in Gainesville offering far better dining experience, especially for the money.
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Carly Roach
3 years ago
I have eaten at the Fat Tuscan several times now over the past few years since its opening, and my experience is always the same: fantastic atmosphere, decent food, mediocre service, and extremely long wait times. I don't understand what takes this restaurant so long to put out simple food (sandwiches, salads). My party arrived at 11:30, didn't get acknowledged till 11:45, finally received food at 12:30, and didn't get our check until 1:00. If a restaurant is going to be open during the weekday lunch rush, it should be ready to handle people who want quick, delicious food and should staff itself appropriately. There are plenty of other locally owned restaurants in Gainesville that can accommodate lunch rushes, so why can't the FT? Also, I think the prices could be a little more competitive. $9 for a grilled cheese sandwich? $10 for a salad? If you're not going to offer the high level of service that other places like Cafe C can offer (whose prices, by the way, are the same but at least include a drink), then I don't want to eat at your restaurant. Near its cash register, the FT had the slogan, "Work like you don't need the money," and that's exactly what the wait staff looks they don't need the money. I felt like no one was working hard for my tip. You don't see people bustling around; you see people whimsically making the food. (I watched a girl making a salad while I waited to pay, and she moved as if she felt no urgency during what looked like a pretty busy lunch rush). The food is pretty good (semi-unique, consistently delicious), but it is NOT worth the wait. Every time I go to FT, I think, "This time it will be better," but I've been fooled three times now and will not be returning.
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