A bright white and orange bowl of soup on a marble surface.
Photo: Emily Hawkes

This New Manhattan Restaurant Makes Flowers the Focal Point

By Aileen Kwun
November 2, 2019
2 minute read

Botany takes center stage at Il Fiorista, a new concept restaurant from husband-and-wife duo Mario and Alessandra Benedetti that includes an in-house floral boutique and hands-on workshops and classes. Here, the Benedettis share the source of their endless inspiration, and why they traded Milan for Manhattan with the dream to create an edible temple to herbs and flowers.

“We decided to move about three years ago, and finally made the move two years ago. It was always our dream to come here, change our lives, and do something new together. We knew we wanted to do something in hospitality, but we also wanted to do something more than a simple restaurant. The idea was to create a space that was about, making use of, and all around surrounded by flowers.

So, why flowers? Both of us love natural flowers and plants and herbs. We realized it’s crucial to start studying flowers for many reasons—not only for the incredible and obvious beneficial impact that they have on the environment, bees, and pollination. It’s also an agricultural movement: We found that planting flowers in the fields, once the farming season is finished, can naturally replenish nutrients into the soil.

We also studied the tradition of edible flowers, and discovered a whole new world. The history of edible flowers goes back thousands of years. They have incredible health benefits. They’re full of vitamins, rich with antioxidants, and used to guard against many diseases. And they’re not only good for the body, but the mind, as well—we learned about the mental benefits of adding flowers to your surroundings, in reading literature on horticultural therapy.

Of course, we really love good food and good wines. At the end of the day, having all these interests and ideas on the table, we thought: Why not shake all these ingredients together, and have them all in the same project, in the same place? And here we are now, with Il Fiorista. This is our idea, so far. One day, next, we hope to also have a farm, not too far from the city, but far enough to be out in nature, where we can produce our own flowers and grow our own products.”