The Santo Spirito neighborhood stands out for its artisanal and hip vibe, so it’s no surprise that you can find innovative restaurants for health-conscious foodies. Ashton Saldana talks with food entrepreneur Amza Zahouani, who stays true to his vegan ethos while growing his businesses in the Oltrarno.
Amza Zahouani was born in Morocco, but has been living in Florence since the age of three. He was one of the first pioneers to introduce healthy alternatives around the city. In 2015, he opened Albero Café (borgo San Jacopo 7R), near the Ponte Vecchio, since nutritious juices were a staple for him whenever he would visit Morocco.
A couple of years later, he started Santo Falafel (via Sant’Agostino 28R) with business partner Ahmad Mohammad. Middle Eastern cuisine with quality vegan ingredients are focal points as traditional dips, falafels and wraps satisfy your hunger while providing a source of essential vitamins and antioxidants.
His most recent endeavor, Reburger (via Sant’Agostino 11R) takes the guilty pleasure of the American hamburger to an elevated level. “My favorite comfort food is the burger and it was always very hard for me to find a good burger in Florence,” Zahouani explains. The food entrepreneur researched 25 different bakeries until he finally found a place that accomplished the gourmet bun he was looking for. As a vegan, he is determined to incorporate more vegetable products on his menu because he realized from “working inside the kitchen, unfortunately, most food tastes good because it is full of animal fats, but it is possible to make vegan food that has the same great taste.” At Reburger, diners can design burgers from scratch with an array of different patties, toppings and sauces. No burger is complete without fries, so make sure to add the rosemary sticks.
Zahouani’s challenge lies in providing quality organic products while keeping in mind the average income of locals.