Until I moved to Italy I thought of most meat as essentially the same, divided into prime and choice. Then I met Dario Cecchini from Panzano in Chianti, south of Florence. He buys animals that have lived natural healthy lives. He utilizes the entire animal, prepared in his restaurants and also sells noble cuts like steaks (Fiorentina T-bone and boneless Panzanese), and transforms “lesser” (not really) cuts to great advantage, like shoulder and rump, turning them into prepared foods like Chianti "tuna" made of pork, spicy meat sauce for pasta, garlicky fresh sausage, sliced fresh pork-belly with thyme, bay and fennel flowers. Chianti "butter" is a paste of fatback, garlic and herbs, to be spread on toasted bread. The shop feels like an international party, with wine and samples for all. Plan on having a meal in one of his three restaurants—Solociccia, Dario DOC at lunchtime for his special burger or L’Officina della Bistecca for an amazing steak tasting.
Sergio Falaschi, his wife Lina and son Andrea are in the village of San Miniato, west of Florence. They specialize in quality meat and salumi. White truffles are a specialty in San Miniato and the Falaschi shop uses them to great effect.
The Zivieri butcher shop is in Monzuno, outside Bologna. Massimo selects beef from the Piemontese breed and raises pigs of Cinta Senese and Mora Romagnola breeds.
Franco Cazzamali is a superstar butcher in the village of Romanengo, outside Cremona in Lombardia, specializing in beef from the Piemontese breed. He knows all about the animals he sells. Piazza di Rauso 1, Romanengo, tel. 0373 72101.
The Macelleria Pennisi is in the village of Linguaglossa, a village that takes meat seriously. Population 5000, 14 butcher shops. Saro Pennisi selects only Sicilian beef and pork, makes first-rate salumi and prepares frittole, slow-braised pork weirdness over a charcoal brazier, on Fridays when the weather is cool. Via Nuova 2, Linguaglossa, tel. 095 643160
Also in the Pantry...
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