Introducing Her Majesty, The Florentine Steak

This meat lover’s delight is perhaps the most iconic dish out of Tuscany. But what makes it so special?

A seared Florentine steak served on a wooden cutting board, together with a sprig of fresh rosemary and roasted potatoes.
Florentine steak. From

A visit to Florence would be totally incomplete without a hearty Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or the Florentine steak (beefsteak Florentine style is another version of the name). This meat lover’s delight is perhaps the most iconic Tuscan dish, earning a spot in the repertoire of internationally known (and adored) Italian cuisine. But what makes this steak so special?

First to consider is the source: the meat comes from a specific breed of cattle called Chianina — one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world, reared for more than 2000 years in Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio — and the sirloin cut of the calf where you find the ‘T-bone steak’, with sirloin on one side and fillet on the other. The cut must be three fingers thick (5-6 centimeters) and must weigh 1-1.5 kilos, although you do have some places that use a 2-kilos cut.

Next is the cooking style. It’s not an extremely complicated process, as the recipe only calls for salt and extra virgin olive oil as additional ingredients, but the way that it’s cooked is very specific. Before even starting, the steak must be aged for two weeks in a cold room, then brought to room temperature before being put on a grill.

The barbeque grill must only use oak, holm oak, or olive charcoal, heated to the point where a layer of ash coats the coals — the embers must be going, but not on fire. The meat should be placed close to the coals, and rotated every 8 minutes so it sears evenly on all sides but remains ‘blue’ on the inside. Some argue that the meat should not be pierced during the cooking process, so should only be turned using tongs rather than with a fork or a knife, in order to keep the juices inside and so the meat stays tender. Once done and after it rests off the coals for a few minutes, the steak is cut and massaged with salt and olive oil, ready for the table and a glass of red wine.

The exact origin of the Florentine steak is unclear, but it seems to have come from the celebration of the feast of St Lawrence — Festa di San Lorenzo, the co-patron saint of Florence — on August 10, where large bonfires would be lit across the city and veal would be roasted to be distributed to all inhabitants.

These days, the steak dish can be found at any reputable restaurant around Florence and in any good Italian restaurant around the world, outside of the feast day. If we’ve piqued your interest, here are Tripadvisor’s top three restaurants for Florentine steak in 2023:

Trattoria Zà Zà, Piazza del Mercato Centrale 26R, 50123, Florence

Trattoria Osteria dall’Oste Tuscan Kitchen, Via Luigi Alamanni 3/5r, 50100, Florence

Auditore Ristorante Braceria, Piazza del Grano 13R, 50122, Florence