Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and 4 other dishes you should eat in Tuscany.
Italy is world famous for its amazing cuisine, with numerous regions constantly vying for the title of the ‘best Italian food.’ Although it would be impossible to pick an absolute winner, Tuscany is one region that has to be in the discussion. Although there is absolutely no shortage of amazing Tuscan food options, here are just a few of the dishes we think you definitely shouldn’t miss.
1. Bistecca Alla Fiorentina
Bistecca Alla Fiorentina, the world famous Florentine T-bone steak, is equally as mouthwateringly delicious as it is overwhelming to look at. Traditionally, these steaks should be at least 1.5 inches thick (4cm) and weigh around 2 pounds (1kg), but it’s not the size that makes them special; it’s the quality of the beef, which comes from grass-fed, native Tuscan Chianina cattle. Although preparation varies from restaurant to restaurant, the best Bistecca Alla Fiorentina is grilled over an open wood fire and served with a local Chianti. A single Florentine T-bone generally feeds 3 to 4 people and is sure to set your mouth watering as the waiter begins carving it up at your table.
2. Fagioli all’uccelletto
Fagioli all’uccelletto (which technically means ‘beans in the style of little birds,’ although it’s generally referred to in English as Tuscan-style beans) is a delicious, hearty dish of beans cooked in a tomato and sage sauce. Traditionally this is a vegetarian dish, but more and more restaurants are beginning to add their own unique touches, like delicious Tuscan sausage. If you’re looking for something Tuscan down to its core, this ancient dish is about as authentic as it gets due to the region’s affinity for beans (Tuscans are often referred to as ‘mangiafagioli’ or bean-eaters by other Italians). An excellent, hearty dish that’s perfect for warming you up on a cool autumn or winter evening.
Cacciucco is a fantastic seafood stew that originated in Livorno more than 500 years ago, which is where it is still most popular. You’ll also frequently find in around Viareggio, but each town’s version is quite distinctive. Depending on what’s available, cacciucco often contains a variety of seafood, including octopus, prawns, shrimp, cuttlefish and various types of smaller saltwater fish, all of which are cooked in a garlic, tomato, and white wine sauce. A good cacciucco is generally quite thick and chocked full of fish, making it perfect for seafood lovers. Due to its thick, hearty nature, most Tuscans eat it mostly in winter—although it is served year round.
4. Pappa al Pomodoro
One strange thing you’ll realize when visiting Tuscany is just how well they make use of stale bread, with pappa al pomodoro being one of the best examples. This extremely thick soup or stew is made from the aforementioned bread, mixed with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil, and literally translates into tomato mush (pappa is also the word for baby food). It can be served hot, cold or room temperature, and you’ll find so many incredible variations that you’ll never be able to choose a favorite. Still, if there in the summer, don’t miss out on trying Panzanella, a cold bread salad made of mostly the same ingredients.