We started our gastronomic adventure in Firenze (Florence), Italy for two reasons: to have a Negroni where it was originally invented and to eat an authentic Bistecca alla Fiorentina. The famed Italian version of the Porterhouse steak is portioned for 2-3 people to share. It should be cut at least 2-3 fingers thick, weigh about 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) and be served very rare. It should be minimally seasoned with salt and pepper and served with olive oil. As part of the cooking process, the steak should be able to rest on its side standing up.
Open since 1880, the multi-frescoed Buca Lapi is Firenze’s oldest restaurant located in the cellar basement of the Palazzo Antinori. Antinori is one of the oldest and largest wineries in Italy. Operating since 1385, they are famous for their various Chianti and Super Tuscan wines.
Buca Lapi is named after Orzio Lapi, the head of Antinori when the restaurant first opened — the subterranean location literally translates to “Lapi’s Hole.” It is unclear if the famed winemaking family has any ties or ownership with Buca Lapi today, but their wines are prominently featured in the wine list (carta dei vini).
Not ones to follow convention, we started with the Trippa alla Fiorentina as our starter. Generally classified as a “Secondi” plate (what we American’s refer to as an entrée), the kitchen split the dish into 2 bowls for us to eat. With fewer tomatoes used in preparation than its Southern Italian counterpart (Trippa alla Napoletana), the tripe was soft and tender, providing a great way to begin our beefy repast:
We sat in the front room which allowed us to view the action in the kitchen, where all steaks are cut to order and cooked on the wood charcoal grill. Our perfectly grilled bistecca was rolled to us on a butcher block where the server deftly split it onto 2 plates (click on the different plates to check out the Lytro living picture refocusing capability):
We ordered some fried artichokes as a side dish. The tempura-style vegetables were expertly fried and stayed crisp throughout the meal:
When we last visited Southern Italy, we were dismayed to find that only Tuscan wines were available in most restaurants. We were pleasantly surprised to find that wines from all of Northern Italy are readily available here in Tuscany. We chose the Prunotto Barolo from the Piemonte region to drink with the meal which paired perfectly with the steak:
The grass-fed steak comes from the Chianina cow which is known for its excellent foraging ability and quality. We found that the bistecca was an excellent way to contrast the flavors of the very tender filet (left) and the strip parts (right) of the meat. Although both sides were very tasty, we concluded that the strip side offered more flavor overall:
We estimated that our bone-in bistecca probably weighed around 3.5 – 3.8 pounds total. We made sure that we ate every ounce that we possibly could:
Antinori makes a very good, reasonably priced brandy that is only available in Northern Italy. We ordered a couple of glasses to end our spectacular meal:
Note: The BarFlys are vacationing in Italy. SF posts will return soon; in the meantime, please enjoy these travel-related posts.