Solociccio in Panzano - Tuscany
I'll be in the town of Arrezzo in the first week of October and I'm thinking of making a reservation at Solociccio - part of the butcher shop Antica Macelleria Cecchini owned by Dario Cecchini who was profiled in Bill Buford's book Heat - and I'd like to get the thoughts/ impressions/opinions of those who have dined there. Also, how difficult is it to snag a reservation?
We were just there for dinner this last Thursday night.
We'd never heard of this guy before. We had asked our hotel manager for a recommendation for some good salami, and he referred us to a butcher shop in panzano. He said the butcher is quite flamboyant and likes to hold court on all things dante, but also mentioned the guy makes the best cinta senese salami. We walked into his shop, but all the cases were empty. Dario was working over some paper, and when we asked if he was selling anything, he cooly said he was closed, and only had the doors open so people could see his place. He gave us a handout with info on his dinner. All I remember is that it mentions the dishes are almost entirely meat (with many raw dishes), and it finishes with a "join us, if you dare..." - a little dramatic?
They have two seatings, at 7 and 9. We made our reservations one day ahead. This was the only dinner we had in Tuscany where most of the place was americans - I assume because of the book. We attended the 9 seating, and he sets out some appetizers in the shop and they pour wine as you wait for the early seating to clear out. Dario mills about, and gets rockstar treatment from some of the guests - looks like he kinda likes the attention.
They seat you at community tables of 12. I think it generally turns into a festive, jovial atmosphere at the tables - it certainly did at ours. I think there were about 7 courses - you won't walk away hungry. I enjoyed most of them, though nothing that was unforgettable. I think my favorite thing was a crostini they served with pate. Its definilty a meatlovers delight.
re: more of everything
It is definitely an odd feast, mostly careful but very homestyle preparations of offcuts, some of it quite delicious, some of it like Tuscan leftovers nite. Long-braised peposo is pretty great, but there is a lot of thinly sliced bottom round and such, which makes sense. He gets an awful lot of money for his steaks and roasts, and Solociccia costs just 30 euros per person, including a solid wine Dario makes himself.
Dario is definitely in this more for the applause than for money, so make him happy if you go. And do try to get some of the headcheese-like soppressatta at his store across the street. It is the best version in Chianti.
You must go. If you do go with a very open mind as all of the courses are meat. The house wine is fantastic. Have a light lunch if you plan on dinning in the evening. Stop by the butcher shop earlier in the day to try some "lardo" and a glass of wine. Buy some "parfume di Chianti" when you are in the shop. It is a spice blend to sprinke on meat. You will thank yourself. Dario is the Shi...
Good luck. Ciao.