Everyone knows the Italian food staples–pizza, pasta, gelato–but did you know that one of the best places in the world to find a steak is actually Florence, Italy?
I know what you’re thinking. What could this Tuscan city possibly know about a good slab of beef? Turns out, quite but. A Florentine steak, or a bistecca fiorentina as it’s called, is cut from younger cattle and boasts a tender, juicy quality.
To be an authentic Florentine steak, the meat most come from a Chianina cow, native to the area. They have origins as work animals but today are bred almost exclusively for their meat.
While there is no shortage of restaurants offering steak options, your search should emphasize quality over quantity. The perfect example of this is Trattoria Vecchio Mercato. Located right across from Mercato Centrale, the two locations could not be more different.
Where Mercato Centrale is a rushed frenzy to find a seat and snag mediocre food, Trattoria Vecchio Mercato is a relaxed and easy pleasure from start to finish, with culinary features that will make you glad you skipped the carbs for once.
The owners, Luigi and Antonella, have been in building for just 4 years and somehow managed to capture the essence of Italian charm. The stone-walled interior is adorned with paintings and drawings from the local Galleria Academy. Luigi features local artists as a way of keeping the decorations fresh while simultaneously helping out the community.
I had the pleasure of attending on a Monday night, when there was live music playing. A stand-up piano is tucked away in the corner of a small dining room that houses no more than 10 parties.
The sounds of a Spanish guitar accompanied pianist Fabrizio Mocata and provided a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown Florence right outside.
Now I have one word for you–truffle. My course of choice was a steak and truffle specialty suggested by Luigi, served with butter potatoes. It was phenomenal. It paired perfectly with the red wine and came apart so easily that a knife was entirely optional.
The food, ambience and company made this restaurant the perfect Florentine dining experience.
I am grateful to have been hosted by Trattoria Vecchio Mercato and hope you’ll visit them on a future visit to Florence. If you’re in the area on a Monday night, you won’t find a better ambience. Not to mention, after your meal you can do some shopping in the San Lorenzo market.
Make sure you tell Luigi I said hi, and enjoy a great piece of steak in between all that gelato.
Till next time!
This post contains sponsored links but all opinions and fond dining memories are my own.