Florentine Steak: The History, The Tradition and Where to Eat it

bistecca-fiorentina

Where to eat Florentine Steak in Florence

La Bistecca Fiorentina is known across Italy and the world as one of the signature dishes of Florentine cuisine. But when it comes to exactly how the tradition was born and how to prepare this tasty favorite, the debate begins!

The Tradition of the Florentine steak

bistecca fiorentina

Most sources agree that the “true” Bistecca Fiorentina uses Chianina meat from the breed of cattle of the Val di Chiana region, used since Roman times as work animals thus ensuring a dense, lean beef steak. Cut from the sirloin near the vertebrae and the back end of the cow, the Florentine steak is characterized by the T-bone in the center and its hefty serving size: at least 3-4 fingers high and weighing at least half a kilo but they can be up to 1 or 1.5 kilos. The meat is dry aged for at least 20 days and must be cooked at room temperature for no more than 3-4 minutes per side.

A few practicalities if you’re new to the Florentine steak ordering business: these cuts are absolutely huge and it’s common to share one between two or even three people. The price is given by the kilo so you can expect to pay upwards of €50 for a good sized steak. Lastly, the Bistecca Fiorentina simply must be served rare. Many restaurant owners won’t even consider cooking it more not only because it would go against tradition but because with longer cooking times, the exterior will become too tough. If you prefer your meat medium or well done, you’d do best to order another cut of meat.

It’s not Florentine history if the Medici aren’t involved in one way or another. One legend has it that the famous Florentine banking family doled out meat to the population of Florence to celebrate San Lorenzo’s feast day on August 10th… he was the one that was martyred by being grilled alive. How appetizing. But it seems most likely that the steak tradition emerged sometime in the 19th century in connection with the English merchants who craved it on their stays in Florence. They say even the Italian word for steak comes from the English asking for “beef steak” or “Bistecca.”

The true origin of the Florentine Bistecca may be lost to time but love of this thick juicy steak is more than alive and well in the city today.


Where to eat the best bistecca Fiorentina in Florence

Regina Bistecca

Via Ricasoli, 14r
www.reginabistecca.com

Beef is of course the reigning queen at Regina Bistecca in name as in practice. While the restaurant used to be located in what once was an antiquarian bookshop, the new location since 2018 maintains an antique flare from the high vaulted ceiling down to the bone-handled knives. You can choose the provenance of your stake (from European to Scottish Angus to Tuscan Chianina) and the meat will be presented to you raw before it is whisked away to be barely seared.

Osteria dell’Enoteca

Via Romana, 70/r
www.osteriadellenoteca.com

Osteria del Enoteca offers refined takes on all the Tuscan classics and when it comes to their steaks, they offer some of the best in the city. White tablecloths contrast with exposed brickwork in this restaurant which offers a contemporary vibe in a rustic atmosphere. The menu offers other Tuscan classics and instead of a wine menu, a wine “wall” where the waiters will assist in pairing the perfect bottle to your meal.

Trattoria Sostanza il Troia

Via del Porcellana, 25/R
www.facebook.com/trattoriasostanzailtroia

Founded in 1869 just a few years after the unification of Italy itself, Trattoria La Sostanza got its start as a humble osteria. To this day it offers a casual atmosphere in which tables and patrons crowd together beneath framed photos and white tiled walls that only accentuate the feeling of timelessness. The steak is perfection, and the rest of the menu couldn’t be more homey and delicious.

Buca dell’Orafo

Via dei Girolami, 28/R
www.bucadellorafo.com

Just steps away from the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and the Uffizi Gallery lies this fantastic little restaurant. Tucked away from the main road Buca dell’Orafo (Goldsmith’s cave) is located in a 13th century palazzo that used to be filled with ancient artisan goldsmith shops. Now the gold on offer is the excellent food including Bistecca Fiorentina. Expect a relaxed pace meal in a cozy stone walled (and yes somewhat cave-like) interior.

Il Latini

Via dei Palchetti, 6R
www.illatini.com/en/

A bustling and lively atmosphere mark Il Latini, by now, a well known favorite for locals and foreigners (bordering on touristy) not far from the Ponte Vecchio Bridge. A family run restaurant for generations, you’ll find all the traditional favorites here alongside of course, their famous Bistecca Fiorentina.

Ristorante Del Fagioli

Corso dei Tintori, 47r
www.facebook.com/pages/Ristorante-del-Fagioli/

One of the older trattorias in the city, Ristorante del Fagioli is, in the words of Italian food maven Elizabeth Minchilli “one of those Italian restaurants you’re always hoping to find.” It offers the classic Florentine favorites (along with an extensive grill selection, the star of which is of course the steak), a hand-written menu of the day on a chalkboard and an unassuming atmosphere that will make you feel right at home.

I’Brindellone

Piazza Piattellina, 10
www.facebook.com/iBrindellone/

This is a no frills, hole-in-the-wall spot that is a local favorite for their casual vibe and excellent cooking. Simple, genuine, traditional and located in the Oltrarno district, I’Brindellone has fantastic Florentine steak and Peposo, a slow-cooked beef stew.

Buca Lapi

Via del Trebbio, 1r
www.bucalapi.com

One of the oldest restaurants in the city, Buca Lapi has been serving up hearty Tuscan fare since 1880. Located in what used to be the cellar of Palazzo Antinori (not far from the Duomo and Santa Maria Novella), they’ve decked out the place in classic Italian posters. They pride themselves on the open kitchen that brings the sights and sounds (and smells!) of the cooking out to their guests.

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