January, February and early March, when all of the holidays finish, is a time for those of us who work in the tourism industry to regroup, catch up with friends, visit our favorite places and basically, enjoy being a tourist. We love our jobs and really enjoy being able to visit the places we recommend.
Recently, I met up with long time friend and ex-San Franciscan Judy Witts Francini of Divina Cucina fame https://divinacucina.com , Rebecca from Grape Tours https://www.grape-tours.com , Mary from Querceto di Castellina and Jaimi from Tuscany Tours https://www.tuscanytours.com for lunch at our favorite butcher, Dario Cecchini in Panzano https://www.dariocecchini.com/en/ To me, this is a perfect day any time of the year. It takes about 25 minutes to get to Panzano in Chianti from Aiolina so a very easy day trip. We met at the butcher shop as this is where the experience begins. Entering is like walking into a film. All of the meat at the counter, crostini with Burro del Chianti to sample, glasses of wines passed around, everyone talking, laughing and enjoying the company. The perfect way to start your day.
Dario at his butcher counter
The meat aging fridge.
Close up of the fantastic items you will find.
Next, off to the restaurant.
Dario has 3 restaurants in Panzano;
- Officina della Bistecca– Seatings at 1pm, 1:30 pm for lunch and 8 pm and 8:30 pm for dinner. Reservations (recommended) accepted by phone or email. This is by far the best steak meal you will ever have. It is prix fix and consists of 5 different cuts of meat, from tartare to the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina. The meat is accompanied by cannellini beans (a Tuscan staple), baked potatoes, Pinzimonio (crudité served with Dario’s special salt and his extra virgin olive oil), Burro del Chianti (lard mixed with garlic, pepper, and rosemary), house red wine, a fantastic olive oil cake, coffee, and grappa. They also have a vegetarian prix fix meal. Euro 50 per person.
- Solociccia – Seatings at 1pm, 1:30 pm for lunch and 8 pm and 9 pm for dinner. Reservations (recommended) accepted by phone or email. Again, it is a prix fix menu and it consists of many normally not used pieces of the cow. This is the food that Dario grew up on. Loads of flavor, all dishes with a twist. Of course, cannellini beans, house red wine, a fantastic olive oil cake, coffee, and grappa. They also have a vegetarian prix fix meal. Euro 30 per person.
- Dario DOC – Open Monday thru Saturday from 12 until 3 pm. No reservations. Don’t feel up to eating a lot of food, then Dario DOC is perfect. There are 4 simple menus, ranging in price from 10 to 20 Euro. You can get a fab burger or a few samples of pork and beef specialties. Of course, a vegetarian menu is available.
This visit we ate at Dario DOC. Here are some of the amazing dishes we ate:
Cecchini Panini – Dario’s New Sandwich (served at his food truck). This is a Beef and Pork Sausage Served on Toasted Tuscan Bread
Accoglienza – Beef Tartar, Chianti Tuna (made from pork), Pork Roasted with Herbs & Garlic, Meatloaf with Bell Pepper Sauce, Tuscan Beans with EV Olive Oil and Crudite served with EV Olive Oil and Dario’s Salt Blend
Super Dario – Half-Pound Beef Burger, Tomato Stew, Potatoes, Tuscan Beans with EV Olive Oil and Crudite served with EV Olive Oil and Dario’s Salt Blend
Vegetariano – Tomato Stew, Roasted Veggies, Potatoes, Tuscan Beans with EV Olive Oil and Crudite served with EV Olive Oil and Dario’s Salt Blend
All of the staff are fantastic and everything is done with a smile. If you need anything, they are there to help.
Netflix did an episode of Chef’ Table with Dario and it really is a great insight into a great man. His belief is that we must respect the animal that honors us at our tables. All parts of the animal are used, nothing goes to waste.
Next door to Dario’s there is a fantastic shop that sells purses, handbags, shirts (fabric printed with the owner’s paintings) and more. The owner and artist, Carlo Fagiani https://carlofagiani.com is another true Panzanese. Don’t pass on a visit to this shop!
Sunday is market day in Panzano, enjoy, then head to lunch is my recommendation but be warned, it can get busy.