Florentine steak or bistecca alla fiorentina is one of the many traditional Tuscan dishes and more specifically a Florentine one. Let’s face it, the people of Florence are big meat eaters and are dead serious about its preparation. Here is a quick run through of what bistecca fiorentina is and how to prepare it as well as 3 of the most historical and famous places that serve it.
To be a proper bistecca alla fiorentina, the meat should come from the Chianina cow. It is one of the biggest cows in the world and a race that dates back to 2000 years ago. It is bred in central Italy in an area called Val di Chiana (are you curious about this region of Tuscany? Book a Mercedes car with driver and take a tour). These rare cows are now bred exclusively for meat. A kilo of meat goes from 40 to 60 euros in restaurants. If it cost less, it probably isn’t the original item.
The florentine steak is basically a T-bone steak but cut very thickly. At the restaurant, you might be presented a cut of meat and asked for your approval. The steak is usually very big and best shared between at least two people.
The steak is cooked on a wood grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the cut. It is left to rest for a few minutes on a wooden board and then served. The meat is served rare or al sangue. Traditional restaurants will only allow this type of cooking, while the tourist friendly ones may cook it medium or well done. Be prepared to be snubbed if you ask the chef to cook your meat more!
There are many traditional side dishes that accompany a florentine steak. Cannellini beans served with extra virgin olive oil (fagioli all’olio) or roasted potatoes (patate arrosto) are always a classic. You can’t go wrong with a selection or grilled veggies (verdure grigliate). If you want to try a less healthy but tasty option, have the fritto misto,a selection of deep fried vegetables that often include mushrooms. Funghi porcini are a seasonal side dish that pairs very well with meat. These sought after mushrooms are usually available from September to November if you want them fresh. The best wine to accompany your delicious meal is obviously Chianti. Ask your waiter for il vino della casa if you don’t want to struggle through the wine list.
Best restaurants in Florence
Most restaurants in Florence will serve this traditional dish. The usual places are trattorias or osterias (family style restaurants) that have a casual atmosphere. Some hole in the wall establishments can actually be well worth a visit. If the decor looks like it hasn’t been upgraded in 30 years, it might actually be a good sign. It could be proof the restaurant has a long standing family tradition and has been in business for while.
Antica Trattoria Da Tito (dal 1913)
This trattoria first opened in 1913 and prides itself on its casual and light hearted atmosphere. There is even a sign on the wall warning customers that the staff and patrons use irony and one liners freely. Tuscans are known throughout Italy for their colourful language and expressions and Antica Trattoria da Tito respects the tradition.
The menu offers all the traditional Tuscan dishes you might wish to sample. The decor is a bit of a mish mash of different styles but homey and quite representative of a casual family style Italian restaurant.
Antica Trattoria Da Tito is in Via San Gallo, 112/r, a 15 minute walk from Piazza del Duomo. Open every day but Sunday for lunch and dinner service. Book your table at this number +39 055 472 475.
This restaurant is slightly outside the touristy center, but well worth the slight detour. It is located in Viale Don Minzoni 10/R, a 20 minute walk from Piazza del Duomo. The first thing you notice walking in, is the glass container with all the meat cuts and then the hanging baskets of fresh fruit and dried onions making you feel like you’ve entered an old fashioned bottega.
Perseus has 5 dining rooms decorated in different variations of the Tuscan rustic style. If you want a fresh start to your menu, try the traditional pinzimonio (a crudités plater) accompanied by extra virgin olive oil and salt.
Perseus opens from Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner services. Book your table at this number +39 055 588 226.
Another historic Florentine haunt dating back one hundred years, Fiaschetteria Il Latini is considered one of the best restaurants for bistecca alla fiorentina. Il Latini is in Via dei Palchetti 6r, and an 8 minute walk from the Duomo square. The restaurant boast 5 dining room with traditional red tiles and white walls with wooden panelling.
The walls are covered in old pictures and engravings as well as ham hanging from the ceiling, unifying the look of the rooms. Il Latini only opens in the evening on weeknights but opens also for lunch at the weekends.
Closing day is Monday. Book your table at this number +39 055 210916.