EATING STEAK IN TUSCANY
In late July, during our family vacation in Maremma, Tuscany, we went out for dinner in the famous wine region of Bolgheri. My husband’s friend, president of the Bolgheri wine consortium, suggested we all go eat at Osteria Magona, known for its steak.
If you’re into Italian wines, you should know what Bolgheri is – located in the town of Castegneto Carducci and an important wine region in Italy since 1974. Thirty-nine wine producers make DOC Bolgheri wines including some big names, or “Super Tuscans” like Ornellaia and Tenuta Guado al Tasso. I will be writing a blog post about Bolgheri wines with a focus on a smaller winery called Fattoria Casa di Terra. So, come back and visit the blog to learn more about Bolgheri wines!
OSTERIA MAGONA – LONG LIVE STEAK!
Osteria Magona is hidden in the middle of the vineyards and wineries of Bolgheri. Chef, Omar Barsacchi and family, have been cooking up traditional Tuscan dishes since 2004. They make it quite clear that the restaurant specializes in steak by the sign hanging at the entrance: “W LA CICCIA” – LONG LIVE STEAK! (“Ciccia” is a word used in Tuscany to describe red meat or steak.)
Chef, Omar Barsacchi, gets his meat exclusively from the famous Italian butcher, Dario Cecchini. Mr. Cecchini is the owner of Antica Macelleria Cecchini located in Panzano in Chianti. It is not your typical butcher shop as customers can also enjoy fresh cuts of meat grilled to perfection, baked potatoes, veggies and wine for a flat fee of fifty Euros.
FIORENTINA VS. PANZANESE STEAK
If you’ve ever gone out to eat in Tuscany, you will have heard of the famous steak Fiorentina- a mouth-watering, thick, T-bone steak sprinkled with olive oil and rock salt. The Fiorentina steak typically comes from Italian Chianina beef – a breed that has existed in Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio for at least 2200 years.
There exists another cut of meat, well known to the locals but under the radar for tourists – Panzanese steak. The Panzanese was invented by Dario Cecchini – a cut from the thigh obtained to make a thick, boneless steak.
TIME TO EAT
Since we had been fortunate enough to have devoured several Fiorentina steaks during our past visits to Tuscany, we decided to try out Cecchini’s Panzanese.
Steaks are treated like wine at Osteria Magona. When you order a cut of meat, they will present it to you, raw, on a wooden cutting board and wait for your approval before they start to cook it.
We started with some appetizers to share. It consisted of a cooked sausage with rosemary, mini tartare with mustard and reduced balsamic vinegar, ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers and skewer of cold cuts and Tuscan bread. We also had a selection of cold cuts and cheeses but I couldn’t take any pictures because there was a bee that was constantly flying around and terrorizing me. By the time it was gone, half the cold cuts were eaten.
Finally came the boneless Panzanese, al sangue (medium-rare), served with deep fried, battered, zucchini. It was definitely a beautiful cut and very tasty. It was especially paired well with a bottle of 2012 Il Pino red. If I have to be honest though, the Panzanese was a little tougher than I expected it to be, but still enjoyable. I probably would give Cecchini’s Panzanese another shot. For now, I am still on team steak Fiorentina.