It seems as though we search for the best steak in nearly every city we visit. In Toronto, it’s found at Jacob’s. New York is Keen’s and Miami is BLT. Even on our honeymoon in Budapest we scoured the streets for the best steak and ate at KNRDY three times in one week.
What we look for is a good crust, marbling and funky blue cheese flavour if dry aged. Bonus points for the restaurant if they serve it sliced and sizzling in the pan. Really, serving it any other way is almost unacceptable.
It’s only natural, then, for a two month stint in Tuscany to include more than a few steak meals. Tuscany is known for the Chianina breed of cattle and bistecca alla fiorentina or toscana. But the best steak we found didn’t come with the hefty Chianina price tag.
1. Antica Macelleria Cecchini
Dario Cecchini’s butcher shop in Panzano in Chianti is hailed as the best butcher shop (and Dario the best butcher) in all of Italy. Anthony Bourdain paid Dario a visit in No Reservations when the butcher shop didn’t have so many attached restaurants and wasn’t loaded with tourists. You can read all about Dario and his philosophy on his website.
We ate lunch at his restaurant Officina della Bistecca where we had a 3 hour tasting menu of different cuts of meat with all you can drink wine from Dario’s vineyards. The website recommends you make reservations but for a weekday lunch we didn’t need it. And at 50 euros per person don’t be afraid you won’t get your money’s worth. The menu consisted of 5 different steak courses and sides of veggies, baked potatoes with lardo (amazing!!) and the most delicious fagioli in olive oil that had baby Pierce obsessed. I think my favourite on Dario’s menu was the Panzanese cut or Chianti crudo. We also bought a Panzanese filet to fire up at home, which was awesome.
2. Il Grillo Moro
We consider ourselves lucky that we booked a month’s stay at Rinidia Bio, a beautiful organic farm about 3 minutes away from our new favourite restaurant in Tuscany. Il Grillo Moro in Sovicille has a fantastic steak menu but all of their dishes have been amazing (try their cured meat board, gnocchi, and tiramisu). It could be worthwhile to call ahead if you’re driving in from far—the availability of steak cuts on their menu changes daily.
When available, we opt for their ‘Scottona con frollatura a umidità controllata’, which is just a dry aged Scottona T-bone. During one visit to the restaurant, the only size available was 1.8 kg…so of course we ordered one each and never ate again for the rest of our stay. The steak was huge and amazing and delicious and funky and just reminded us of a really good steak back home from Cumbrae’s. We had to bring home over half of it because 4 pounds of steak in one sitting will obviously kill any two people.