Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Renassaince This for a Taste of Enlightenment!

16 Sep

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe
Recipe by

Among the many jewels in the beautiful city of Florence, such as the statue of David, the Uffizi and Accademia galleries, the Giotto Bell Tower, the Jersey Shore cast recently, Il Duomo, Fontana del Nettuno, Ponte Vecchio, Roberto Baggio (he’s not actually from there but he did electrify the F.C. Fiorentina fans playing for their beloved “La Viola” in the late 80’s prior to starring in the 1990 World Cup)… the one signature dish that deserves it’s own statue is the Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florence style steak). Surprisingly to most, the Tuscan’s graze some of the best beef in all of Europe, produced from the Chiana Valley area of the region. The beef even has it’s own name; Chianina beef, do you have a name for your beef? I didn’t think so!

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina recipe from Paggi Pazzo

I remember my last time in Florence (I’ve actually only been to Florence once, but it just sounds cool when I can say the last time I was in blah, blah, blah…), I wasn’t aware of the great popularity and pride the Florentine’s took in their steak. One evening I ordered Firenze’s finest and requested it to be served as the locals do. Thankfully, the waitress noticed my accent (and how I was butchering her language) and in perfect American English, suggested I have my Bistecca alla Fiorentina cooked a little longer. Even after that recommendation, the dish came to my table and was fairly bloody by American steak standards. However, the tenderness and seasoning of the beef was incredible! So outstanding, I wanted to scream like the dude from SteelHeart!

The preparation for Bistecca alla Fiorentina is quite simple but finding the right beef can be challenging. If you have a local butcher, inquire about Chianina beef and while it’s not likely they will have it, it’s worth asking (only recently has Chianina beef been raised in the US). If not, find a thick Porterhouse cut and by thick I mean REAL thick, like at least 2 inches thick! Once you have your steak, do as the Florentine’s do and other expert steakhouses, and air dry your steak before grilling by not allowing the bottom of the steak to rest (I used 2 bbq skewers to prop the steak above a plate). This will prevent some of the juices from exiting the beef and I would do this a few hours before grilling (be sure to allow the steak to be at room temperature before grilling as well for even cooking).

To really enjoy your Bistecca alla Fiorentina, get your charcoal grill smokin’ hot! I prefer to use hardwood lump charcoal and a handful of mesquite wood chips for a slightly smokey flavor (I also soak a few more for after the wood charcoal is in the grill pit). Most Tuscan’s season the beef with a lot of salt and pepper after the steak has seared and turned over on the grill but I prefer to season just before, with a very light covering of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Put the steak on (with a forklift) and sear for about 5-7 minutes on each side. After, move the steak to a medium heat zone of the grill and not a cool zone, you want the steaks to continue to cook for another 5 minutes per side (this method that I’m suggesting would be considered blasphemy in Florence as they prefer the meat very rare, and I do prefer a rare steak but for a flavorful medium rare taste, cook it a little longer). Once the steaks are tender and ready, remove from the grill and sit for 5 minutes. The Florentine way is then to lightly dress the steaks with balsamic vinegar and lemon wedges before slicing to serve.

Since we’re talking about Florence and Tuscany, it’s essential to have a glass of Chianti to join your Bistecca alla Fiorentina, as some of the best vineyards in the world are from that region. I happened to have a bottle of Barolo on hand (guilty….) and it was a savory compliment to the beef but if you have the opportunity, find a nice Chianti Reserva, Super Tuscan, or Brunello di Montalcino and enjoy the blessings of Tuscany. So raise your glasses (and bottles)….here’s to Florence, the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Da Vinci, Donatello, Botticelli, Dante, the mayor of Florence for trying to prevent the Jersey Shore cast from entering their city, and of course, Bistecca alla Fiorentina! Forza Firenze!

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Paggi Pazzo

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe

Prep time: 1 hour

Cook time: 25 min

Total time: 1 hour 25 min

Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 porterhouse steak (2+ lbs.)
  • pinch salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • splash balsamic vinegar

Cooking Directions

  1. Air dry porterhouse steak a few hours before grilling by not allowing bottom of steak to rest on plate and keep at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling (1 hour if removing from the refrigerator)
  2. Start chimney starter full of hardwood lump charcoal and some mesquite wood chips by using a match to paper towel dressed with olive oil under starter
  3. Allow wood charcoal to turn grey and dump into grill pit with soaked mesquite wood chips
  4. Raise fire pit tray under grates (but not at highest level) for best searing
  5. Just before adding steak to grill, lightly dress with olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides
  6. Place steak on grate over hottest zone of grill and sear 5-7 minutes on each side
  7. Move steak to less heat but still over coals on grill and cook for another 5 minutes per side
  8. Remove steak from grill and cool for 5 minutes before serving
  9. Slice steak meat away from bone and dress with balsamic vinegar
  10. Ready to serve

Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe

5 out of 5
stars based on 17 ratings.

Click here for full Florence Style Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina Recipe and other Paggi Pazzo recipes.

5 Responses to “Grilled Bistecca alla Fiorentina – Renassaince This for a Taste of Enlightenment!”

  1. christian Perret September 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    BTW Cowboy Hardwood Charcoal……best I have ever used on the grill Voglio una Bistecca!! I was eating those In Firenze like crazy even during the mad cow times. They are so good.

    • Paggi Pazzo September 16, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

      HAAAAAAAAA!!! You’re a brave man to be going to town on those steaks during the Mad Cow outbreak! But you’re absolutely right about the Cowboy Lump Hardwood Charcoal, I use nothing else myself. Thanks for the post!

  2. Renata September 16, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    I could feel the love and pride you have for Italy in each recipe you wrote. You also amazed me by combining a mini history lesson about each part of the world you were cooking from and you made me laugh, sometimes out loud, with your witty remarks. The Italian recipes were absolutely authentic and very appealing, you must have remembered some from your youth. The directions were clear and easy to follow and the results real yummy. All I can say is BRAVO! with pride. Your bubbling personality and sense of humor really come through.

    • Paggi Pazzo September 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      Since it’s coming from such an objective point of view (Mom :-)), I truly appreciate the sentiments. Your culinary skills and country have provided a full list of menu items that I plan on sharing with my family for a long time!

  3. Dave September 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    Those steaks are F’n massive!

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