“Bistecca alla Fiorentina,” aka the best steak you’ll ever eat.
This past weekend I got a chance to visit Florence, located in Italy’s Tuscany region and only an hour and half train from Milan. Some people visit the city to see its iconic terracotta-tiled Duomo or Michelangelo's David — I went for the steak.
Like all Italian delicacies, this one starts with high quality ingredients. The incredible agricultural conditions of Tuscany yield rolling hills, plush vineyards and an abundant farming culture. Within this region is an especially rich valley called Val di Chiana, home of the acclaimed Chianina cow. Known as the Tuscan white steer, these massive animals are raised for beef and stand taller than a man. To no surprise, the process of raising these cows and maintaining quality control is taken extremely seriously — the area is protected and production is government regulated.
“Bistecca alla Fiorentina” steak is pictured. Courtesy Alexa Amorosino.
Tuscan steaks have earned quite the reputation in the culinary world, the most iconic being the “Bistecca alla Fiorentina.” “Bistecca” refers to a T-bone cut of steak, which includes a tender filet and a beautifully marbled sirloin.
In typical Italian fashion, the preparation of the steak is simple and leans on fresh, local ingredients. The meat is seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked hot-and-fast over coals or burning wood. As the meat cooks, bunches of rosemary and sage are used to brush the meat with olive oil and infuse an aromatic flavor. The result is a heavenly, rare steak with a deliciously charred crust.
As tasty as this dish is, the “Bistecca alla Fiorentina" is hardly a one-man job. These steaks are traditionally at least three inches thick and over two pounds (that’s 32 ounces!). That said, they’re served pre-sliced, with the T-bone on display, and usually live in the middle of the table — so everyone can steal a bite!
The sharable nature of the “Bistecca alla Fiorentina” makes it perfect for a long, drawn-out Italian dinner — my favorite. I enjoyed mine with good wine and friends, and it was well worth the trek to Florence.