During a whistle stop Top Deck tour of Europe in April, my husband and I were lucky enough to find ourselves in Florence – or ‘Firenze’ if you’re local. Of course, there is no shortage of traditional Italian gourmand delights in the ‘Cradle of the Renaissance’. Weary travellers will find no shortage of eateries offering pizza, pasta or gelati.
But, we are in Florence and on the hunt for another local speciality…steak.
Florentine steak, or Bistecca alla fiorentina, traditionally consists of a T-bone sourced from either the Chianina or Maremmana breeds of cattle. Our trusty tour guide leads us to Francesco Vini, a delightful restaurant close to the Cathedral of Santa Croce.
Founded by Francesco La Brusco in 1977, Francesco Vini sits above the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre. Originally a small vendor offering regional wines and deli meats, Francesco’s son, Fabio, renovated the restaurant in 2007. While the restaurant has grown to more than four times its original size, its commitment to quality remains. This means the menu could be considered limited – but everything still has a slight twist on the traditional.
We surveyed the menu while supping on pinot grigio and bruschetta al pomodoro. Seated close to the restaurant front, we basked in the warmth of the spring sun and were treated to an accordion performance by a busker playing outside.
Skipping over the delicious assortment of pastas and pizzas, we find what we were looking for – Bistecca alla fiorentina.
After seeing that the Florentine steak is available at 40 euros per kilo of rib, or 45 euros per kilo of filet, we settle on the ‘Sliced Sirloin of Beef with aromas of Tuscany’ for 17 euros.
The steak came grilled and cut into strips, served with a simple salad of warmed cherry tomatoes and rocket. It was seasoned with rosemary, sage, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. The meat was perfectly cooked (rare) and the meal was delicious simplicity at its best.
Feeling virtuous for not committing carbicide on pizza and pasta, we order dessert… “Affogato al caffe per favore!!”
Francesco Vini in a word? Bellissima! The food was delicious, the ambience great and the service efficient and affable. The only advice we would give to the uninitiated is to be aware of the coperto – or cover charge – of two euro per person.
If we ever find ourselves lucky enough to be roaming the streets of Florence again, Francesco Vini will definitely be on our list of places to go.