The Florentine steak (bistecca alla fiorentina) is a signature dish of Florence, the much-visited Tuscan city that spawned the Renaissance. The steak is a large t-bone (lombata) at least an inch-and-a-half thick seasoned with salt, pepper and often olive oil that is grilled over an open charcoal flame. The beef once came solely from the large breed of Chianina cows that plowed the hills around the nearby Chiana Valley and slaughtered between a year and two years of age. It is the only traditional steak dish in Italy. Its origins, interestingly, are as a byproduct of Florence’s busy leather industry.
Opened in 1960, this small trattoria in a 15th century building cooks up Florentine and Tuscan dishes, some with long histories, along with a few other menu items that range further up or down the peninsula. Among them is the bistecca that is cooked for two and sliced tableside. Surprisingly, the wine list complements the regional bounty of offerings with many international bottlings including those from the New World. Dino is located near Santa Croce, a beautiful Renaissance church and popular tourist attraction that is the burial place of many famous former residents including Galileo, Ghiberti, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, and Rossini.
Dino 47R Via Ghibellina Florence, Italy 50122 055-241-452 ristorantedino.it
This extremely popular trattoria might cater to tourists, but quality and charm are not sacrificed one iota. Customers often a wait for a table, outside, but patience is aptly rewarded with meal filled with well-executed local and Tuscan specialties served in tight, sometimes, communal quarters that only adds to the conviviality. Opened in 1911 the dining now takes place among a half-dozen small rooms with white walls and ceilings from which hang scores of hams that began the curing process on the family’s farm. Another family product, house red wine, is quite good if inexpensive and served in generous 2-liter jugs. Along with a juicy bistecca, you will likely find pappa al pomodoro, ribollita, roast rabbit and roast chicken.
Il Latini 6R Via dei Palchetti Florence, Italy 50123 055-210-916 illatini.com
This is an upscale and modern Tuscan restaurant that opened in early 2009. It is from a Bulgari executive and the founder of the unique mozzarella bar concept, Obikà, found in several Italian and foreign cities. The setting in a 15 century palazzo near the center of Florence is lovely. Service and prices expectedly match. The décor and offerings might have a contemporary feel, but the menu highllights the traditional Florentine steak. Here they serve it from organically raised cattle, which might not be Chianina, but something similar, and top quality. These can be matched with a wine list understandably heavy in Tuscan wines, helpfully identified between modern and traditional tastes.
Osteria Tornabuoni 5R Via de Corsi Florence, Italy 50123 055-277-3520 osteriatornabuoni.it