In this post I’d like to tell you about our lunch at one restaurant in Monteriggioni where we had the best bistecca fiorentina during our recent travel through Tuscany. In fact it is one of the signature dishes of the region.
The ancient breed of cows called Chianina is the only source of meat used to make this Florentine T-bone steak. These cows are grown in the hills around Florence and considered to be among the largest and tallest breed of cows in the world. The cut that is used to make bistecca fiorentina is much larger than the one used for a regular steak. The typical size of the served portion is about 1 kilogram which is about 2.2 pounds.
That is why this Tuscan dish is usually ordered for 3 or 4 people. You will never find real bistecca fiorentina priced in the menu per portion. The price is always per kilogram that costs around 50 Euros.
Bistecca Fiorentina Serving Rules
There are two points you need to remember when you order Florentine T-bone steak.
The first one is that bistecca fiorentina is always served blood rare and there is no compromise here.
That’s just the way it’s cooked. The steak is slightly grilled over the sizzling coals and left rare on the inside.
The second important thing is that bistecca fiorentina is seasoned with just some salt and pepper and served in a pool of olive oil with meat juices. That’s the only natural sauce that comes with this dish.
Monteriggioni Bar Dell’Orso
The restaurant where we had this wonderful Tuscan steak is called Bar Dell’Orso.
In fact it’s a mid size trattoria located close to the ancient walls of Monteriggioni. This medieval castle town is situated in the Tuscan hills 30 kilometers away from Siena.
The term trattoria implies that the restaurant is more casual, usually located in the rural area and in most cases owned by a family. So I would say Bar Dell’Orso is a typical Italian trattoria that specializes in meats and various Tuscan dishes.
The place was full of locals which was a good sign.
Ribollita: Our First Course Dish
Before having our long awaited bistecca fiorentina we decided to start our meal with another traditional Tuscan dish called Ribollita. The recipe of this thick vegetable beans soup is several hundred years old.
It is always served with olive oil and freshly baked bread. Feel free to top your ribollita with some Parmesan!
Brunello di Montalcino: A Perfect Match For the T-Bone Steak
Bistecca Fiorentina was the main dish of our meal so we had to choose the wine that could be perfectly paired with this richly flavored meat. The king of Italian steaks deserves the king of Italian wines! That’s why we chose a full bodied dark red Brunello di Montalcino that is made using only the Sangiovese grapes growing in Tuscany.
The thing about this wine is that it is aged not less than 48 months before it is released. It is assumed by a lot of wine specialists that Brunello attains its best characteristics after 120 months.
Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most famous Italian wines which combined with its tasting characteristics brings its retail price levels up. It typically costs around 50 Euros per bottle in Italy on average. For those of you who don’t feel ready for the “king” there are some great alternatives that offer high quality at slightly lower cost.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
There is a town called Montepulciano located just a little less than an hour drive from Brunello’s home town Montalcino. That’s where they make another well known wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
The town is surrounded by the Sangiovese vineyards used to produce this wine. The two main differences of this wine from Brunello is that Vino Nobile di Montepulciano doesn’t have to include only Sangiovese grapes.
Local wine production laws require Sangiovese grapes to make up not less than 70% in the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines. The most common kind of grapes used for the rest 30% is called Canaiolo also grown in the same area.
The second key difference is that the minimum aging requirement is twice lower for this great Italian wine which is 24 months.
So basically in the case with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano you can get a good quality wine made from the same grapes as Brunello under a less recognizable brand name at much more reasonable price. This makes it another great choice to accompany your bistecca fiorentina.
Rosso di Montalcino
Another good alternative to Brunello di Montalcino could be Rosso di Montalcino.
It is usually referred to as declassified version of Brunello made from the same kind of grapes but using younger vines, with less strict aging requirements applied.
Chianti Classico Riserva
Another alternative I wanted to mention is Chianti Classico. If you go with Riserva version you’ll get a decent quality wine that has been aged for at least 24 months before being placed on a store shelf.
You can find some nice Riserva options of this wine for about 20 Euros per bottle.
To sum up the post, our bistecca fiorentina was really good and we were lucky to find this trattoria. I usually try to avoid having my meals in the tourist areas close to major attractions. I prefer to explore the hidden gems serving genuine cuisine for the locals. That’s where you get the best quality food at reasonable prices. I can tell you that Bar Dell’Orso hidden near the castle walls of Monteriggioni is definitely one of these places.