For Steak Lovers Only


In the little town of Panzano which can be found in the Chianti region of Tuscany is the Antica Macelleria Cecchini, home of Dario Cecchini. Dario is a third generation butcher who himself has been a butcher for the past 35 years and whose mere presence and all encompassing smile creates an energy you feel as soon as you step into the shop. You really can’t miss his butcher shop, just look for the brightly painted red and white striped building off the main piazza in town! To visit this little butcher shop is an experience everyone who visits Chianti should have at least once as it truly is like no other you’ll ever come across. Of course a visit to Antica Macelleria Cecchini should also include buying some of his wonderful cuts of meat to enjoy at home as well as a visit to one of his three restaurants.

We have visited Antica Maccelleria Cecchini a few times in the past, and on one visit we enjoyed the meat tasting menu in Dario’s SoloCiccia Restaurant found across the street from the butcher shop (just look for the blue flowered cow!).  We have also dined a number of times in his casual Mac Dario Restaurant for lunch which serves delicious gourmet hamburgers without the bun. Until recently though, we never managed to take part in the steak tasting at Officina Della Bistecca but this past weekend we finally decided we were past due for this experience as well, so we made reservations for Sunday lunch and off we headed to Panzano. Read about our earlier, and first experience at Antica Macelleria Cecchini.

I believe in full disclosure, so I must admit that to be perfectly honest I am not a big red meat eater myself although I do crave a good steak every other month or so. When I do get my craving, I get my “steak fix” on our occasional trip to Florence where we share a good Bistecca Fiorentina. Before we left for Panzano, I checked out the menu for Officina Della Bistecca and I will say I was a little alarmed by the amount of red meat we would be served in one meal. I know how much we have enjoyed Dario’s food in the past though, so that morning I put on my expandable waisted shorts fully intending to completely enjoy every bite of this steak experience (otherwise known as a beef orgy).

We arrived in Panzano a little early without realizing that they now hold a market on the first Sunday of every month so the little town was packed with foreigners who all seemed to be buying up everything that was being sold from artisan cheese to crocheted doilies. The little town’s streets were bustling on this very hot Sunday and Macelleria Cecchini was so full of folks they had overflowed onto the street in front of the shop. When we arrived, Dario was in the front of the shop welcoming guests and handing out glasses of wine. His outgoing personality (as well as the opera playing loudly in the background) added a festive feeling to the whole experience and everyone crowded into the small shop had a big smile on their face. We said hello to Dario and then did a little shopping ourselves before heading out to the patio tables above the butcher shop for lunch. All of the meals served at Macelleria Cecchini are served at communal tables and although you may initially sit down at a large table with a number of strangers, after a couple of hours of enjoying great food (and of course wine) by the time you leave, those strangers have somehow become friends.

Once everyone has arrived, greeted each other and has been seated, the meal begins with Pinzimonio, fresh vegetables with an olive oil dip. The real meat meal then starts with what Dario calls Chianti Sushi, one of my favorite meat dishes that can be bought at the macelleria. We were then served another beef dish I believe was called Rustica, and although I am not exactly sure what it was apart from the fact it was more beef, we all seemed to enjoy it since some folks asked for seconds. While these courses were being savored by all, a large cart was rolled out with the first of the steaks to be grilled piled on top. (see photo below) The steaks were truly enormous, particularly all piled up together and everyone was taking photos of this steak extravaganza. The steaks were then grilled to perfection, and once they were ready Dario came out to do his famous welcome which can be seen here on YouTube, finishing with his shout of “To Beef Or Not To Beef”! While Dario gave his boisterous speech, the local dogs were barking and howling in excitement while the diners were clapping and shouting which all created a feeling we were all at a party together.

The first steak, Costata alla Fiorentina (commonly called rib eye) was then followed by Bistecca Panzanese, and finally by the more famous Bistecca Fiorentina. I gamely ate my way through all three courses of steak although I must say the first one was my favorite as it was so buttery and tender it almost melted in your mouth. I watched in amazement as other diners accepted second and sometimes even third helpings of steak but everyone at our table certainly enjoyed the food if the moans and groans of pure pleasure were any indication. The meal also includes all the house wine, water and digestivi (digestive liqueurs) you want as well as coffee and a piece of olive oil cake to end the meal.The Complete Menu for Officina Della Bistecca

After our long afternoon of steak indulgence, we said goodbye to our table mates and headed into the butcher shop to thank Dario and to buy a box full of meat to take home to Umbria with us (hard to believe after what we just ate but true!). Although I probably ate more red meat in one afternoon than I would normally eat in a six month period, I thoroughly enjoyed every bite and encourage all steak lovers to visit Panazano to experience their own steak extravaganza at Officina Della Bistecca.
 

The Chianti Town Of Panzano

 

The Exterior Of Antica Macelleria Cecchini

 

Market Day In Panzano

 

Sitting At Our Table Waiting For The Last Guests To Arrive

 

Chianti Sushi

 

Fresh Veggies For Pinzimonio

 

The First Of The Steaks In All Their Glory On The Cart For Us To Admire!

 

The Grilling Begins….

 

The Grilling Is Almost Completed ~ Perfectly Cooked Rare

 

The Famous Speech By Dario

 

Dario And I In His Meat Locker ~ Nice And Cool On a VERY Hot Day!

 

Dario Scooping Us Up Some Burro di Chianti (Really Seasoned Lardo!)

 
Deborah Mele
July 2010
 

 

10 Responses to “Umbrian Truffles & Trattoria Da Baffone”

  1. 1
    Norma Bourque — August 20, 2012 @ 7:20 am

    So enjoy your blog! Every recipe I’ve tried turns out great. We recently visited Italy and can’t wait to go back! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK

    [Reply]

  2. 2
    CB Cuono — August 20, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

    Great little piece on tartufi, Deborah. Our annual Christmas-time trip to Firenze will certainly include as many dishes prepared with these gems as we can find. The cinghiale is second on the list, but not by much.
    When we lived in Firenze, a local showed us a method for storing black truffles in the freezer for periods of a few months at least. First, they must be dry. Do not wash or scrub the outside before freezing. Fill a small canning jar with fresh, uncooked rice. I use the 5 Oz Bormioli Rocco jars with the gasketed lids, made in Italy. For rice, I use Vialone nano. Depending upon the size of the tartufo, I generally place a single one in the middle of the rice in each jar. The rice should completely surrouns the tartufo, and there should be no air space at the top of the jar. Screw the lid tightly and store in the freezer. The best freezer is one which does NOT have auto-defrost. That way, the temperature will always remain cold without fluctuation. Self-defrosting freezers, such as those in our ubiquitous fridge-freezer combos, warm up to just above freezing on a regular basis to remove frost. In contrast, deep freezers do not cycle.
    To use the tartufo, take the jar out of the freezer, and let it thaw at room temperature. No microwave! Use the tartufo in your recipe of choice, and as an added benefit you can use the lovely aromatic rice in a risotto or other rice dish.

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Thanks for the tip of freezing tartufi, I will certainly try it!

    [Reply]

  3. 3
    Tracy A. — August 23, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    After repeated efforts, I confess that I am not a mushroom fan. But – I have never had a truffle. They look so different from mushrooms, and I am curious about their taste and texture. Can you shed any light?

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    Tracy, truffles are nothing like mushrooms apart from having an earthy aroma as many mushrooms do. Our black truffles here is UMbria are quite firm and have to be grated or shaved very thin to use. The taste is actually subtle, it is more of the aroma you experience.

    [Reply]

    Tracy A. Reply:

    Well, I would have to say, that is encouraging. Anything that needs to be grated certainly moves it away from resembling mushrooms. I will give them a try when the opportunity arises. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  4. 4
    Per Voi 2 Italian Restaurant — August 23, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

    I have never really been a fan of truffles, I almost don’t see the point. I have never had a dish where truffles were needed in any way, anytime I have had them I think the dish was as good or better without them.

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    I do believe they are an acquired taste. If fresh and in season they can take a basic pasta dish from good to amazing.

    [Reply]

  5. 5
    Susie Fishbein — November 30, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

    As someone who has visited Italy recently, are there any fun foodie stops that you can recommend. In Lucca I found a great kitchenware store called Penelope, their version of a Williams-Sonoma style store. Did you come across anything similar in the Amalfi coast?

    [Reply]

    Deborah Reply:

    I haven’t been to the Amalfi coast for a number of years, but I doubt there are any large kitchen stores there.

    [Reply]

Leave a Comment