Setting foot in Dario Cecchini ‘s ‘Antica Macelleria’ feels like walking into an Italian classical movie scene. On the background the sweet-as-honey voice of Claudio Villa, in front of me a timeless looking company of Panzano locals, the walls around me still decorated with cream-colored tile and on the right a scrumptious buffet of Dario’s specialties.With his carrying voice Dario welcomes me from behind his counter: “Ciao, Buongiorno Sofie! Today you are our guest!” He makes sure I don’t miss out on a glass of vino and a taste of his ‘burro del chianti’ [‘lardo’ spiced with rosemary and spread on a slice of Tuscan bread] … delicious!
Apart from being an excellent eighth-generation butcher, Dario Cecchini doubles as an impassioned philosopher; an exciting combination that earns him quasi-celebrity status. His principal argument is ‘The Butchers Dilemma,’ the reality that after selling the ‘prime cuts’ the butcher is left with the unpopular [and often unsaleable] pieces of the animal. For Dario Cecchini every part is excellent and nothing should go to waste. To solve his ‘butcher problem,’ he created his restaurant ‘Solociccia’ [translated: only meat] where he serves a six-course tasting menu entirely created from unpopular cuts like parts of the leg, shins, head, etc.
I take my seat at one of the communal tables together with Jamie Oliver’s crew from his ‘15’ Cornwell restaurant, Californian restaurateurs, a filmmaker and a wine and olive oil producer. I cannot help from taking seconds and thirds of the spicy meat ragu on toast, the super tasty boiled beef and the yummy braised meats. Everything is served family style and with a big smile from Maria Teresa and her daughter Virginia. Two hours later the lunch feels more like a family reunion … Dario made his point: everything is excellent and food should be shared with others.
Pictures above: Dario teaching a group of young chefs about butchering, slow cooked ‘Campanello’ beef, Grappa Cecchini, Solociccia interior, boiled beef salad made from ‘Osso di Ginocchio’ and Dario’s olive oil.
Solociccia: Via Chiantigiana, 5, Panzano in Chianti, Tel +39 055 852727, reservation advised.