Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Feb 11, 2014 10:31 AM

Bistecca alla Fiorentina?

Who do you think makes the best Bistecca alla Fiorentina in Los Angeles?

I know that chi SPACCA, Drago and Angelini Osteria all offer this dish (in one form or another). Are there others?

I've only tried the one at chi SPACCA and loved it.

Would love to hear about other places ...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. The Harvey Gus at Angelini get's my vote. Been a few years since I have been to Vincenti but I imagine it is quite good there, and if not on the menu, a phone call in advance will likely get you one.

      The last one I had was at Dario Cecchini - OMFG!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Ciao Bob

        I had one at dario's too, fantastic as expected!

        the other great steak from that trip was at perseus on the outskirts of florence. mouth is watering now!

        1. re: Ciao Bob

          Remember, Dario serves BF only in cut and name. The actual beef is not Chianina, it's from Spain which he believes is much better (it is!).

          For true BF, Omero takes the cake. It was almost more fun to eat there after the mad cow ban.

          Great pic, ciaobob.

        2. I had a really, really fantastic version at Bucato. Been meaning to post on my follow up visit to Bucato, but haven't made the time. Found the beef in particular to be super good.

          7 Replies
          1. re: CulverJack

            Did they actually do it in the authentic Florentine style??

            Their meats have not really been the highlight. Very curious how they did it there!

            1. re: BacoMan

              Wow - lots of debate on exactly what this dish means since my reply.

              Interesting - I think the actual act of having this dish in Italy while on vacation with someone you love (or alone, hell) IN ITALY likely trumps all items (kind, origin or color of said cow, olive wood from some ancestral olive orchard harvested in light fog, impaled on a foil by the guy from The Princess Bride, etc) in what most would remember to be "GREAT" about any meal there IN ITALY, but I digress. I think you can get pretty close in so cal if you talk to the right folks, so kudos to you for posting. The right folks are certainly here.

              At Bucato, I didn't see the details of the prep, as we were at a table away from the action. But I believe they did somehow grill this over wood, as I saw them cleaning up a pile of ashes off of their flattop grill (!!) and I gathered this was for our dish. I may have asked about it as we left, but it was a long wine night and I don't recall. It WAS served with a lemony arugula salad and it was well seasoned but simply, it was very tender and perfectly med rare and it was very, very good.

              I wasn't expecting much since the emphasis is on pasta there and I didn't love the porchetta prep when I last dined with them. That's why it stuck for me as a remarkable dish.

              As they are very purist and serious about their pasta prep, you should look into how they are doing their bistecca. Give them a call. It wouldn't surprise me if they were more toward the legit side than not.

              1. re: CulverJack

                I'll probably get flamed for this; I thought the bistecas were kinda tough in Tuscany, even true blue Chianina ... I think US meat quality is generally superior.

                Have Harvey Guss carve some up for the grill. Should be good, since Dario himself visited his place a few years ago

                  1. re: Porthos

                    No, where is it located? We hit up a few places throughout Tuscany, called it quits after the fourth round.

                    1. re: Sgee

                      Just above Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence. Glorious views and the bistecca like silk. I was told one of the very very few places left serving Chianina beef these days even in Florence. Rest of the food was stellar also, great soup, pasta, and the fried rabbit. All so good.

          2. So far as I have experienced, there's no reason to get it anywhere but Chi Spacca. At least if you like it in that style (which is the actual Florentine style).

            22 Replies
            1. re: BacoMan

              What's your criteria for authenticity here?

              Chianina cow?
              Hot coals?
              On the bone?
              Nothing but salt/pepper/EVOO as garnish or accouterments?

              As a sidenote, it's a bit ironic that Chianina Steakhouse in Long Beach does not have this dish.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Pretty much all of the above, except perhaps the Chianina cow.

                I guess maybe the hot coals maybe not. But that simple preparation. The specific, HUGE cut of meat on the bone, etc...

                I just don't feel that calling something "bistecca fiorentina" is license to basically grill a regular steak with EVOO and charge a bunch of money for it. Not that that is inherently bad, but it's just not what you get when you order the dish in Florence. The only bistecca I've had in LA (or anywhere else for that matter) that is just like it is in Florence is at Chi Spacca. I don't know why that is. My guess is that the Florentine's have much cheaper meat, since the steaks are even bigger for less money over there. (Chi Spacca's kind of surprised me in that it really is only enough for 2 people and yet it's $175...I figured it would feed at least 3-4).

                1. re: BacoMan

                  I'm sorry, but your criteria -- no Chianina beef or mandatory hot coals -- does not make for authentic Bistecca alla Fiorentina.

                  Bistecca alla Fiorentina is more than just a big cut of beef prepared simply. If it was, I suppose Fogo de Chao might qualify. But it doesn't.

                  Don't be random, nor convenient, about what you consider authentic.

                  Live a little.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Well, it seems to me like if you deviate much from the specific cut, and simple preparation there really is nothing there.

                    I grill up a ribeye with some chipotle cream sauce...can I call it a Bistecca alla Fiorentina? If not, why not?

                    Doesn't having such loose borders make the question, "where can I get Bistecca alla Fiorentina" just, "where can I get good steak?" ?

                    What did you have in mind when you asked your original question?

                      1. re: kevin

                        If everything is good, then "good" is meaningless.

                          1. re: kevin

                            So what is the point of this forum then?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I guess you should be more clear in the initial post. For me, I would define it by the Chianina beef. In which case the answer would be "no one".

                      Had bistecca fiorentina at Omero (Chianina beef) and Sostanza (very popular, porterhouse, and no Chianina beef) in Florence. Both were better than the bistecca fiorentina at the beef dinner served at the scoula di pizza before it became Chi Spacca. The texture of the meat at Omero was silkier than the meat at Sostanza.

                      Below: bistecca fiorentina at Omero (Chianina beef)

                      1. re: Porthos

                        I need to ask what they are using at Chi Spacca.

                        When I had it about a month ago it actually seemed to me like the meat was almost too silky.

                        I would say that, yeah, it's not as good as it is in Florence, but it's the only thing that comes close in LA.

                        I am not sure why the dish isn't more popular given American's affinity for steak really.

                        1. re: Porthos

                          It's like Peking Duck.

                          One will never get real authentic Peking Duck in the United States, but places still sell things called "Peking Duck" and people still order things called "Peking Duck" and things called "Peking Duck" are still regularly consumed.

                          I guess it's just what comes closest, or is the best approximation. Which is why I said "in one form another" in the OP.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Why can't you get Peking Duck in the United States?

                            But again...what is meant by "Bistecca alla Fiorentina" exactly? It seems like for the most part it just means "steak at an Italian restaurant" ?

                            1. re: BacoMan

                              Why can't you get Peking Duck in the United States?

                              Health codes.

                              Sort of like you can't get true OG Taiwanese stinky tofu in the States. But that's debatable, depending on whose grandma you know.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Would health codes have anything to do with ones inability to find a good bistecca a F? I nominate the Harvey's Guss approach for the steak portion of the equation, and some nice hot "home" coals for the fire part.

                                For one thing we need to buy more meat from Harvey who is a true gem bordering on the Hope Diamond. And his steaks rank right up there too...

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  The following LA Times article shed some light on this subject.

                              2. re: BacoMan

                                Roughly translated, it means "steak in the Florentine style." So it's not just "steak at an Italian restaurant." In fact, it refers to a specific cut of meat, cooked in a particular way, just as "pan roasted chicken breast" would not appear on a menu to sell a fried wing, but rather the specific part advertised, cooked in the designated method.

                                1. re: Jack Flash

                                  That's what I thought, but it seems a lot of other posters feel that what you are saying is not true...

                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                    "steak in the florentine style" =/= "steak at an italian restaurant"

                              3. re: ipsedixit

                                The Peking duck thing is a bit different. The problem with Peking duck is the prep and not being able to air dry for 24 hours. The problem with bistecca florentina is not being able to get the beef from the particular breed of cattle. Prep vs ingredient problem but I get your point.

                                I only brought it up because you later responded "I'm sorry, but your criteria -- no Chianina beef or mandatory hot coals -- does not make for authentic Bistecca alla Fiorentina."

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              also, to me, a true bistecca must be aged atleast 180 days. That is pretty much the minimum # of days when I was in Florence.

                      2. see: italian wiki


                        The Florentine steak is obtained by cutting the loin (the part corresponding to the lumbar vertebrae, the middle of the back from the tail) of the beef breed Chianina : he in the middle of the bone in the shape of a "T" - in fact in English is called a T-bone steak - with thread on one side and sirloin on the other.
                        The meat - previously matured for at least two weeks in cold storage - at the time of cooking should be at room temperature. The cut is about 1-1.5 kg , height of about 5-6 cm .
                        To warm up the grid using a rich coals of charcoal , preferably using charcoal oak , of holm oak or olive . The coals should be very much alive, barely veiled by a thin layer of ash , no flame. They should be avoided in any way, plates , gas grills , electric , with baking stone , etc.. The meat should be at the beginning very close to the coals, so that it forms a crust as quickly as possible and getting the juice does not come out the so-called Maillard reaction , then after the first minute should be raised to a more friendly fire.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: ns1

                          That's a very informative article. Since the photos in the posts above depicted meat that was VERY rare - too much so more my taste normally, though I do like carpaccio and steak tartare - I was wondering whether the pronounced rareness (almost raw to me) was an element of the authentic dish. Apparently so, according to the linked article. Also, because of my ignorance of the dish (never having ordered it on any of my visits to Florence - my bad), I had thought - probably due to some bastardized recipes I've seen - that it was common to sprinkle it with lemon (and I've done that to steak that I've grilled at home). But according to the article, that is an absolute no-no. Live and learn. Vivere e imparare.

                          1. re: Wayno

                            The summer of 1969 my girl friend and I flew to Italy, rented a car in Rome and drove to Venice. We were meeting up with one of her sorority sisters and her new husband, who was born in Venice and his family still lived there. We ended up gathering at his parents house and they said they were going to take us to their favorite restaurant in all of Venice. My mouth was watering and my mind was conjuring up all these various pasta dishes and seafood. We went off the Island and got in their family car and drove out into the surrounding country side to a place that did T-bone steaks on a giant open grill, sitting under an open air sort of patio with vines growing up and overhead. The steaks were astonishing, but I was chuckling for days over my assumption of what the food was going to be and ending up with a "backyard bbq of steaks on the grill" instead.

                            1. re: Servorg

                              Nice story. Come to the meet-up on Sunday and I'll tell you a slightly similar story of one of my most memorable meals involving enormous veal chops grilled over a ramshackle brazier in Tolosa, Spain.

                            2. re: Wayno

                              The steaks are usually medium rare, a little more on the rare side. That's the default level of cooking in both Italy and France (a point) in the places I've been. Blood isn't flowing or anything but it is very red throughout.

                              1. re: Porthos

                                À point, Monsieur, à point.
                                Avec l'accent grave, s'il vous plaît!

                                (The French -not me- are very fastidious re. orthography...)

                                  1. re: OscarFox

                                    Lol. Tough getting the accent marks typing on an iPhone! ;)

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      What does "a point" or "a pointe" mean ?????


                                      1. re: kevin

                                        À point – Pronounced “pwah”, a French term used to describe food cooked just to the point of perfect doneness.


                                        1. re: OscarFox

                                          I must confess: wasn't too sure re. the academic validity of the above definition.
                                          So I looked up the Petit Robert:
                                          "Un steak à point: cuit moyennement, (entre saignant et bien cuit)."

                                          WTF? À point = medium???

                                          With all due respect to M.Paul Robert: streetwise at least, the correct one is atomicgourmet's, in all it's brilliant ambiguity. Trust me.

                                  2. re: Porthos

                                    <<I was wondering whether the pronounced rareness (almost raw to me) was an element of the authentic dish.>>
                                    <<The steaks are usually medium rare, a little more on the rare side. >>

                                    When we ( a group of 10 friends and I) were in Tuscany 11/13 we had a few bisteccas including the Dario I photographed. Whenever we ordered, they made a big deal -- some pleading, others outright refusing to cook it beyond rare -- about us not ordering it medium rare or heaven forbid, well done. For me this was great, but others in our group were not fans.
                                    Questa è la vita!

                                    1. re: Ciao Bob

                                      Whenever we ordered, they made a big deal -- some pleading, others outright refusing to cook it beyond rare -- about us not ordering it medium rare or heaven forbid, well done.

                                      good on them.

                                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                                        I consider your picture and mine about medium rare given the pink rim surrounding the red center. For me rare means dark red throughout with no pink rim and per Wikipedia link below that doesn't work for some reason, cold red center. ;-)

                                        But yes, they would make it a point to say no medium or well done please!! We said we would be happy for them to cook it to the level it is "supposed" to be.