For the past 35 years Dario Cecchini has been a butcher, seeking to better himself in his chosen art, and to discover the best cutting and cooking methods for each piece of meat. Cecchini respects the animal by using every part in the best way possible. In his butcher shop, where hospitality is second-to-none, you can buy possibly the best beef, pork, and when in season, lamb.
In his 2 restaurants located in Panzano in Chianti - halfway between Florence and Siena, you dine as he says “in convivio” together with other guests, you have the opportunity to appreciate, the cooking results of his many years of search for quality meat. All the wine, olive oil, herbs and many other produce come from my small estates located only 3 kilometres from the butcher shop and restaurants.
Cecchini greeted us at our table - as he does with all his guests I’m sure, - he asked us to trust in what he suggests, or at any rate, he made is clear that after many years of research and passion for meat - we should trust his knowledge and experience.
Everything here reflects his personal philosophy on life, the passion he brings is all his own idea of quality. He does everything his own way, and asks that you enjoy what he serves even if you don’t understand why he does what he does. Dario Cecchini is something of a celebrity chef and none other than Jamie Oliver has sent one of his butchers over to Dario to learn the ropes in Tuscany.
Unlike most restaurants - here you don’t choose from a menu, though you will be treated well, and with great respect, only if you return the favour. At the communal table - there will be six perfectly served meat courses, chosen at Dario’s discretion, with seasonal vegetables, white beans with olive oil, focaccia, bread or Panzano, olive oil cake, coffee, a carafe of their own wine, and to end a potent Italian Military after-dinner liqueur.
All of the above is served for a very reasonable 30€, with exactly two hours dining, at the end of which you will turn over your seat to the next guests. It is important to note that they don’t serve steak - so please don’t ask. All the meat is of Spanish origin, served as a T-shaped bone, filet (top loin) and tenderloin, of mature beef, are all aged for at least 20 days, with just the right amount of fat and never straight from the fridge, standing on a wooden board while waiting for the grill.
For the hot coals under the grill they use red or evergreen oak. The purpose built grill is low to the coals and the ‘Grill Master’ ready to begin the ceremony, with a glass of good Chianti on hand for courage and inspiration. Due to the sheer size and quality of the meat - five quick minutes per side and then fifteen minutes standing on edge. Note: no salt or other seasoning is used to offend this culinary alchemy. The cooked to perfection meat is then returned to the chopping board, let to stand, - though on many occasions like this one, Dario performed a short opera to the meat - then sliced into chunks for all to enjoy!
To describe what this place means for a good healthy carnivore is impossible. It has to be experienced to be believed and sealed with good glass of Chianti. Buon appetito!