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Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

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Hong Kong
posts: 6
reviews: 11
Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

I was advised that the two best places serving Bistecca alla fiorentina are the Trattoria Mario in Florence and the Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Chianti. Is there anyone lucky enough to have tried both of it? How do they compare? Thank you!

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 4,073
reviews: 3
11. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

I think we "rear" not "grow" Chianina cattle and there are certainly plenty of them around. The Val di Chiana is a very large place and you find the same breed in many other parts of the region as well.

posts: 1,144
reviews: 35
12. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?


I love getting into meaty subjects.

First of all, I simply do not believe in lists of "must sees", "must do's" or anything else - like "12 steps to a successful marriage", or whatever.

I have been happily eating with some frequency at Sostanza for over 50 years. I think it's safe to say I have changed more than they have. I have loved the place ever since I was first introduced to it.

That being said, there is another place - a few blocks away - where we also love the bistecca alla fiorentina - Baldini, which is another family-owned place where the people and the menu stay the same year after year. There are four main differences:

Baldini has a much broader menu, with daily specials, which are frequently very special. We often go there to eat pasta. We would never go the Sostanza to eat anything other than steak or chicken.

Baldini lets you come and go when you want. They don't have just two seatings per evening like Sostanza.

Baldini has seating like normal, modern restaurants. You don't have the opportunity/burden of sitting with people you don't know.

Baldini happily takes credit cards.

One "doppia bistecca" has always been at least enough for two whenever I've been sharing one - at the two restaurants above or at the many other places I've had it in and around Florence. (The biggest I have ever partaken in was one steak for four, at Baldini, which was so huge and so rare it occurred to me that I had seen cows hurt worse than that get up and walk away. The four of us ate and ate and ate and couldn't finish it off.)

What I was getting at, apparently incoherently, is that I wouldn't order a steak for one - period. I can't remember ever having ordered a steak when I was the only one eating, or the only one who wanted steak. I only order it if there is somebody else who wants to share one. If I were eating alone, or I was with somebody else who didn't want to share a steak, and for some reason I could not live without a bistecca, I would order a double. Either I would eat the whole damn thing, or I would have them give me something to carry the remains home in for my well-traveled dog.

If you grill a skinny piece of meat, you cannot caramelize the outside without overcooking the inside. Overcooked Chianina is good only for shoe-leather. I simply don't see any point in grilling meat if you don't caramelize it. The meat simply does not have enough taste or the right texture if you don't. The only way I've found to get a good sear - using a wood fire - on a piece of meat less than about 5 cm or 2 inches thick - at the very minimum - is to partially freeze it. And that is sacrilege to all the Florentines I know.

13. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

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posts: 2,629
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14. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?


That omelette (or is it more like a frittata?) intrigues me, too, and like you, I hope to be in Florence next month, however, I think that the best of the artichoke season might be over - I don't know, though.

I was lucky enough to have been there a couple of months ago in February and artichokes were on nearly every menu I saw - fried, al forno with fontina, thinly sliced raw artichokes with parmesan......I was in heaven!

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 4,073
reviews: 3
15. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

Lady B, foodie friends of mine visiting from London in the winter often comment on dishes we appear to eat all the time. They reckon we eat pretty much the same thing (lots of rabbit, pici with aglione, ecc) and it's true in that I do tend to eat artichokes almost every day, cooked in every conceivable way, and, yes, artichoke omelette (frittata) is a favourite. Currently going through an asparagus phase (though they're far costlier), soon it will be zucchini flowers with everything. I guess it's due to the emphasis on only eating what's in season.

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16. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

Lastraniera, I'm also a firm believer in eating what is in season (European season, anyway). I was more than happy to feast upon artichokes in February. The asparagus season has started here, too, I've already pushed the boat out and made asparagus risotto and asparagus parmagiano a few times. The supermarkets sell asparagus during most of the year, but I'm loathe to buy it from the Southern hemisphere and prefer to wait for the European produce to arrive, we had the Italian stuff first and now the Engish - I never tire of eating seasonal vegetables, because like strawberries and raspberries they are in the shops for such a short time, unless of course they are forced.

Oh, gosh, I've made myself really hungry now!

New Forest National...
Destination Expert
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17. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

Uncletomaso - thanks for explaining and for the tip about Baldini.

If we don't make any dinner reservations for our four evenings Sat 11th - Tues 14th (Tuesday being our Anniversary) are we going to struggle to find a restaurant that isn't fully booked? When we went to Rome in June a few years ago we had lunch and dinner in restaurants or pizzerias on various Piazzas without needing to book. I know Florence is smaller, so does this make it harder to find somewhere, or are most of them by reservation only? My hubby is happy with eating pizza or pasta outdoors every evening, (assuming it is warm enough) rather than more expensive formal indoor restaurants, but I like to try some different dishes.

Thank you for all help and information.

posts: 1,144
reviews: 35
18. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?


The two places I recommended are very popular with locals and with tourists. It is always better to reserve, and it doesn't cost anything, so what reason could there be for not doing it.

This is a very busy time of year in Florence, so there may well be crowds wherever you go.

posts: 1,144
reviews: 35
19. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

Sostanza's famous artichoke omelet:

I love artichokes. I love carciofi fritti. I love the fresh pici with raw artichokes and very high-grade olive oil at Armando's. I love the traditional French way of steaming them and serving them with vinaigrette with chopped egg. (We had a couple of enormous and superb ones the night before last.)

I do not love the famous artichoke omelet at Sostanza. I find it boring and filling.

I recognize that this is a terrible admission of failure on my part.

Edited: 10:31 am, May 04, 2013
posts: 2,629
reviews: 6
20. Re: Bistecca alla fiorentina-Trattoria Mario Vs Cecchini?

Thank you, Uncle Tomaso, I'll take your word for it.