September 2015 / 2016
Panzano is a perfect day trip from Florence. We had the pleasure of visiting Panzano, Italy twice (so far!) – once on our trip in 2015 with our Chianti Wine Tour and the second we went on our own in 2016. While the town is quite small, there is a big personality that draws crowds to Panzano – Dario Cecchini. The famous Dario is known for this humanitarian approach to butchery and promoting a good life for animals, operates two restaurants and a butcher shop. But this is no ordinary butchery shop – serving up snacks, pouring wine to patrons, and blasting American disco music, this is certainly a unique spot.
On our first visit to Panzano, our group ate at Solociccia and I do not think any of us were prepared for the feast ahead. Starting with Dario’s house made Chianti, which was delivered through taps in the wall, raw garden vegetables with fresh golden olive oil were brought out with Tuscan (saltless) bread, spicy meat ragu on toast, and garbanzo and white beans. Then, different meat varieties appeared on the table, including beef roast, boiled meats, and braised meats. Everything on the table was fantastic and so delicious- you could taste the freshness and quality. The meal ended with deliciously moist olive oil cake.
We were sad to have missed meeting the famous Dario as he travels frequently for work. Hopeful that our luck would change on a return trip.
Which it did! We returned to Panzano a year later. I feel like we had the sampler platter on our first visit – we wanted the full experience at Officina della Bistecca. Panzano is an easy bus ride away from Florence with the bus stop right in front of the butcher shop, which makes this a great day trip destination.
Our arrival to the butcher shop was met with lots of delicious snacks – including an amazing crostini (we though ti was pork but we later learned it was lard!). Before we made our way to the dining area, Dario himself appeared and cranked up the American disco music while cutting a few slices of meat. We were so entertained- a great pre-show to our meal. It was hard to believe we were experiencing this!
We were led to an outdoor seating area and took our places while the 1PM service began. To my right was a couple from Ireland who we enjoyed discussing world politics and American football, and to my left were Italians who whiled Bruce Springsteen- hilarious! The meal started with house Chianti, fresh veggies, bread, and beans preceding the multiple meat course. Meats were as follows- beef tartar (incredible, my favorite of the meal), seared rump, bone in ribeye, Panzanese steak, and Florentina steak. A baked potato came on the side with not butter, but lard. The dessert was a moist and delicious olive oil cake I am shocked we even had an appetite the rest of the trip. To top the entire day off, we even got a photo with Dario himself after our meal.
Dario and his food make this an incredible stop on your Italy destination. It is easy to get to from Florence without taking up too much travel time. Such a fun, unique, and iconic dining experience that we highly recommend!