The carousel is turning playfully in the piazza as diners take their places at La Bistecca Osteria Fiorentina in piazza della Repubblica for a Florentine steak experience. An upbeat vibe and chatter brim among the many tables in the outside seating area. It’s a cloudless early-autumn day and Florence is looking particularly picturesque from our vantage point. On one side, there’s the flawless façade of La Rinascente department store, while the recently restored triumphal arch, designed by Vincenzo Micheli in 1895, dictates the personality of the square.
Over by the four-metre-long steak fridge, more than 15 types of meat have been selected from all around the world: Rubia Gallega from Spain, Black Prussian from Germany, Black Angus from Ireland, Finnish Freygaard, Swiss Simmental, Piedmontese Fassona and Frisona, Tuscan Chianina and the new entry Portuguese Minhota. “On attending a Medici family banquet, the Tudors didn’t know what to call the generous portions of meat, so they started to ask the servers to bring them some ‘T-bone steaks’, which resulted in the word bistecca,” explains restaurant manager Albano as he holds his hand up to underline his next crucial point. “We must always remember that if it’s under four dita (fingers, ed.) high, then it’s not a steak, but carpaccio!”
After careful consideration, a Chianina steak for two is dispatched for grilling. In the meantime, our meal begins with two generous antipasti. An exercise in culinary texture, the enticing steak tartare has been knife-cut to perfection before being tossed with finely chopped shallots. A swirl of mustard, a scattering of salty capers and a roasted tomato complete the starter, alongside the basket of freshly oven-baked topping-less pizza slices. While we’re wooing at the tartare, the scent of a second appetizer fills the air. Slices of black truffle from San Miniato dot the Chianina carpaccio, which has been marinated at length in lemon juice and seasoned before being presented on a bed of rocket. “The Chianina is hung for around four weeks to ensure the highest quality, whose Etruscan origins as a work animal render a gritty yet flavourful meat.”
Elegant glasses are brought to the table with a flourish to pour Baia al Vento Bolgheri Superiore 2020 from Campo di Mare, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc private label blend chosen especially for restaurant owners Kamami and Bigi. At 15.5% alcohol, it’s an opulent wine with more than a hint of cigar circles that pairs sublimely with the T-bone steak served on a Florentine patterned plate. Bloody and brilliant, the higher rib (costata) and the lower fillet (filetto) offer dual interpretations of the same cut. Smooth and melting in the mouth, the fillet may be a firm favourite among internationals, but the costata provides a distinctive robustness and flavour. Somehow we succeed in gobbling the lot, rib, fillet, and the succulent sides of chargrilled seasonal vegetables. After all, what’s not to love about bistecca alla Fiorentina, especially when served in the unique setting of one of Florence’s most central piazzas?
Over on adjacent tables, a group of Italian friends are catching up over a grazing board of Tuscan cured meats and cheeses, while an American family is deciding what to do for the rest of the day while indulging in platefuls of fresh pasta. A turn on the historic carousel or a stroll down to the Duomo are equally appealing options after lunch or dinner at this super central location.
Location: Piazza della Repubblica 12, Florence
Opening hours: daily for lunch and dinner
Contact: Tel. +39 055 2776364 email@example.com