Dario is no ordinary butcher…
Well, in the simplest sense of the word, perhaps he is. He runs a small butcher shop in the tuscan town of Panzano, but unlike other food celebrity figures, you will see him here running the shop every day of the week.
He is a true maestro in every sense of the word. Even routine things that other icons wouldn’t dare be seen doing, such as answering the phone for orders, Dario does.. And does so with passion. When we entered, we were immediately offered a bicchiere of wine, even just for looking. We were given bread with lardo, olive oil, even fresh salami. In the commerce part of the shop, a simple yet stylish meat cabinet gives you a glimpse of just what the place is about. Fresh cuts cryovac’d and out for display, and everything available to eat in the kitchen is available to take home as a cut.
So what is it about Dario’s that is so important? It’s the little things. The attention to detail, the passion behind the work, and of course the quality of the meat. It’s not your typical Italian venue where customer service doesn’t exist, and even if it’s become one of the World’s great landmarks for meat lovers, the staff still enjoy interacting with customers and making sure they are well looked after.
Oh, it’s worth noting too that he is the King of Tuscany’s regional dish: The bistecca alla Fiorentina: A monstrous 1KG+ piece of T-Bone cooked on the bone, from a special type of beef called Chianina which has more age than your typical cow when slaughtered and needs more attention when cooked as a result.
Dario is a magician when it comes to preparing cuts of meat such as beef and pork, and his propiertary blend of wild fennel pollen gives the store an unbelievable aroma.
The meat fresh, vibrant and very affordable.
Upstairs, we were treated to a recently developed kitchen and dining hall complete with a large communal table and smaller ones in the corners. The big one gave us firm views of the coal pit where the chefs prepared the meat using nothing but a few levers, a plate and some red hot coals.
For lunch, you have some great small options. We opted for the ‘Super Dario’ consisting of a 250g deconstructed beef burger and a plate of assorted house specialities like tomato puree and fresh fagioli.
Wine lists are non-existant, but you can opt for the house stuff or take advantage of the free corkage. We did.
Arriving first was a bowl of the freshest ingredients you will see. Fennel, carrots, celery, and onions which only a few hours earlier were still buried in the ground.
Oh, and you dress it yourself how you like.
Sure, the theatrics almost impress as much as the meal. They enjoy working as much as you enjoy eating.
The proprietary blend of salt and herbs went fantastic in the fresh olive oil as you dipped in the vegetables. It also was spanking on the potatoes.
The condiments were great too. The highlight a house tomato ketchup made with Chianti.
Seeing the beef ready to go on made you salivate, and looking at the colour of the patty gave testament to the institution Dario has created.
As the beef patties are house ground and so fresh, the Tuscans recommend serving it sangue, or rare. I went for mine medium.
The plate came bustling with food, and with the sides you needn’t worry about leaving hungry. The cost of everything here? A ridiculous €15.
Even with the coffee they go the extra mile, serving with Tuscan olive oil cake free of charge really adds to the homely feel.
And that, in a nutshell, is what Dario’s is about. It’s an institution and a mecca for meat lovers the World over. If you are ever in Tuscany, take the scenic route and head to Panzano where you will see Dario working his magic.
Antica Macelleria Cecchini
Via XX Luglio 11, Panzano, Tuscany