SALEM – Albanian brothers, Zamir and Andy Kociaj may not have been born in Florence, but when it comes to Italian hospitality and traditional Italian cuisine, they seem to know it all, and they’ve brought it all to Firenze Trattoria.

These charismatic brothers were born in Tirana, the capital city of Albania. In the early 90s they relocated to Florence, where they fell in love with the city and all it had to offer.

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“The food we do here and the service we offer is inspired from that city,” Zamir said. “Through our food and hospitality that we offer here, we’d like them to feel like they’re transported in Italy.”

They decided to create a rustic, yet homey space reminiscent of the trattorias they came across in their youth, in their new home of Salem, Massachusetts.

“It’s a cozy small neighborhood place. It’s the kind of place that people in Italy frequent on a regular basis,” Zamir said.

To kick off your taste buds’ trip to Italia, you can begin the meal with a selection of crostini prepared with a variety of toppings, from roasted red pepper with gorgonzola, to black olives with anchovies. There’s the traditional antipasto for two, loaded up with sopressata, mortadella, sweet gorgonzola, truffle pecorino, parmesan reggiano and olives.

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Creamy Burrata at Firenze Trattoria (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

Depending upon which season you happen to be dining in, you can get creamy burrata cheese served with capocollo during the winter, and fresh tomatoes in the summer months.

From there, it’s onto pasta with Linguine Carbonara made with egg, pecorino and pancetta, and then spiked with smoked salmon for added flavor; or the hearty Meat Ragu made with wild porcini mushrooms and served over pappardelle. But it’s the simple, yet satisfying, Caccio e Pepe that is the must order on this menu.

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Caccio e Pepe at Firenze Trattoria (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“Caccio e Pepe is the simplest dish you can do, but being simple doesn’t mean it is simple to make it,” Zamir explained. “It’s made with pasta water, cacholta cheese, and added with bucatini and fresh pepper. It’s so simple but yet so sophisticated.”

The Secondi section of this Italian menu features traditional fare, like the flavorful Pollo alla Boscaiola made with tender chicken, mushrooms, tomato and olives in a creamy decadent sauce. Of course, there are plenty of grilled meats, whether you order the gorgeous prime ribeye served alongside asparagus and roasted potato wedges, the perfectly pink pork chop, or the tender Baby Back Ribs fired up with fresh herbs.

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Baby Back Ribs at Firenze Trattoria (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“These are prime meats, simply grilled, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. The easiest way possible,” Zamir said. “This is the kind of food we try to do here. Without complicated seasoning or complicated techniques. This is simple, genuine, with ingredients that are always fresh.”

The desserts are as sweet as the service, with traditional Italian treats like Tiramisu, Cannoli and Panna Cotta. There is Vanilla Bread Pudding served with a sugary salted caramel sauce, and for folks addicted to chocolate like Zamir, there is the Flourless Chocolate Mousse.

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Flourless Chocolate Mousse at Firenze Trattoria (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“The Flourless Chocolate Mousse is a delightful dessert,” Andy said. “It’s very light. Served with whipped cream we prepare here. It’s a delightful chocolate mousse.”

Creamy burrata, Caccio e Pepe, Pollo Alla Boscaiola, and the Flourless Chocolate Mousse make for THE PERFECT MEAL at Firenze Trattoria.

You can find Firenze Trattoria at 2 Lynde Street in Salem, Mass., and online at

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.


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