Fresh pasta, amazing Florentine steak, homemade desserts, in a place that brings at your table not only Florentine delicacies, but the joy of the city and the Tuscan region! Welcome to the Trattoria da Benvenuto, which already welcomes you from its name. The welcome is warm, the service is fast and the staff is very professional.
Main dishes of pasta, rice: The recipes for these delicious dishes have remained unchanged for centuries.
The main ingredient is the typical Tuscan unsalted bread. It seems that since the XII century, when the rival town of Pisa blocked the salt trade in Florence, bakers in the latter town started to bake unsalted bread.
Even Dante talks about this habit in the Commedia when he says that while in exile he himself found out « [...]how salty the taste of another man’s bread is [...] » (Paradise, XVII 58-59)
Bread is sacred in Tuscany, it’s never thrown away, and even if stale is used to make traditional dishes. Therefore there is a long list of old recipes contemplating bread: panzanella, panata, ribollita, acquacotta, pappa al pomodoro, fettunta, zuppa di verdure, minestra di cavolo nero.
Main dishes: Tuscan main dishes are very simple but that doesn’t mean that they are improvised or that they lack in flavour.
Simplicity stand in the making of these dishes and in paring them with other local products – from roast meats to fish, from cheese to flavourful cured meats to the unforgettable “fiorentina” (T-bone) steak. The reference point of Tuscan cookery lays in the history of Caterina de Medici’s cooks. When Caterina married Henry II in 1533, the future king of France, her cooks brought to France the enthusiasm for elaborate dishes that later became the bases of the most refined western cookery tradition. In the XVII century another woman of the Medici family, Maria, married to Henry IV, and she reaffirmed the splendour of cookery tradition. The linchpin of Tuscan cookery is meat – beef, lamb, pork but also game and poultry, cooked top round, grilled, roasted, stewed or boiled.
The large use of poultry, white meats and game is really distinctive of Tuscan cookery. Farmyard animals like chickens, turkeys, geese, guinea-fowls, pigeons along with rabbits and game such as hares, wild boars, pheasants and porcupines have always been the main features on special occasions menus.
Bistecca alla fiorentina: One of the most traditional grilled steaks in Tuscany is the tagliata Toscana which is basically a simple grilled steak, served cut into slices and moistened with olive oil and fresh rosemary. However, in the early 19 C, the English settled in and around Florence in large numbers and introduced new cuts of beef, including the T-bone and porter house steaks, and the bistecca alla fiorentina, “florentine steak“, often known outside Tuscany simply as a fiorentina (Florentine), was born. Fanfani’s dictionary of 1863 describes bistecca alla fiorentina as a neologism dating from 1823, the word bistecca being of obvious English origin. Be that as it may, bistecca alla fiorentina is now a famous native dish with closely defined rules regarding its preparation. It has to be admitted that getting a good fiorentina is partly a matter of luck, whether you prepare it yourself or order it in a restaurant. When eating out, try to get a recommendation from local people on where to go for your fiorentina.
Bistecca all Fiorentina The steak: the cut is a porterhouse or T-bone with as large a fillet (tenderloin) as possible. If you’re buying from a butcher’s shop, ask to sample a small piece of raw meat. If the fillet is not very tender while raw, it surely won’t be after it’s grilled. The club steak (strip steak, contrefilet) should also be tender. Traditionally, the meat should come from the “calf” (up to two years old) of a chianina ox although by far most of the bistecca alla fiorentina sold in Florence is Spanish beef. The meat should have been hung for five days, and should be kept at room temperature for 10 hours or so (all day, effectively) before grilling. Traditionally, the thickness should “three fingers”, quite thick, in other words.
When ordering in a restaurant, you need to look at what they have available before ordering so that you can pick a piece that has a large filet, if they have it, and of a size suitable for your group. A good restaurant buys when the cut yields a large filet. Prices on the menu will be “per etto“, an etto being 100 gm. So the price per kg will be ten times that.
Sweet delicacies, Handmade dessert: There are two main amazing influences on traditional Tuscan desserts:
The Medieval trading communes, and the de’ Medici Signoria so well
linked to the other European courts. In sweet preparation we can
see the influence of the first period in Panforte, Ricciarelli and
Cavallucci, all made with fruit and nuts, spices and honey. From the
second period come Cantucci from Prato, Cialdoni and Brigidini. Other
traditional every day cakes are enriched sweet breads and other simple
cakes without creamy fillings as it was in many other typical Italian
cakes. Some of these “poorer” cakes are Buccellato, (round or elongated
in shape), Berlingozzo, Grapes Schiacciata, Castagnaccio (a cake made
with chestnut flour), and Necci, flat pancake like sweet preparations
also made with chestnut flour.
Vin Santo is the perfect parings with any Tuscan dessert, and its “occhio di pernice” variety, made with red grapes, is the highest expression of this fortified wine.