This week I had the opportunity to meet and dine with Dario Cecchini, the world famous Tuscan butcher from Panzano.
You may have seen him on food and travel shows. The man truly loves life, and, of course, meat.
He, alongside Montefili wines, hosted an amazing meat fest at the new Tuscan restaurant Ristoro del Cinghiale. Each course was paired with one of Montefili’s wines.
This first course was simple but delicious. That’s ricotta and “tuna” made of pork. Somehow it tasted like really great tuna. Amazing!
There was also some really flavorful salumi.
Next was a pair of pasta dishes. Gnocchi with sage and mushrooms, and garganelli with a wild boar bolognese sauce. The garganelli was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve had in a while. Very tasty.
Next, the meats! The first dish to come out was a rack of wild boar that also included spare ribs.
The chops were absolutely incredible. Such a nice flavor. But the ribs stole the show. They were seasoned with a dry rub that included cayenne and fennel seed, which just blew me away. Best ribs ever.
And this “Bistecca Fiorentina” porterhouse was one of the most perfectly cooked steaks I’ve seen in my days of eating beef.
Here, the preparation and flavoring is all about the wood-fired oven and the herbs, the true Tuscan style.
If the steak was aged, I couldn’t sense it. But the tenderloin was incredibly tender, and the strip side was delicious. Again, perfectly cooked – great grilled crust and pinkness from end to end. 9/10.
Now that’s what I call a high protein plate! There was also some spinach and crispy potatoes, as you can see. I really shouldn’t gloss over those potatoes – they were so fucking good!
Dessert was a delicious slice of pecorino cheese topped with black truffle.
I’ll be going back here in the next week or so to try more of their menu; perhaps the half pig head and the sweetbreads parmesan. I think it goes without saying that I highly recommend this place. Their chef seems to be really nailing the spirit of Tuscany. He definitely did Dario proud.
On a second trip here, my wife and I had the tripe and polenta, as well as the sweetbreads parm to start:
This tripe was incredible. Easily a top dish of the year.
Next up, we tried the pappardelle with wild boar ragu. Wildly delicious sauce and meat, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.
The wild boar mixed grill was nice too. It comes with belly, sausage and those delicious ribs.
On the side we had some wild mushrooms. Also really great, and I love the wildness of every dish.
For dessert we had a chestnut tart/pie, and rosemary doughnuts. Both were really tasty. I fucking love this place.
RISTORO DEL CINGHIALE
122 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016
The Royalton burger is fantastic (named for the farm where they get a lot of their meats). I usually don’t like brioche buns, but this one held up just fine. What’s inside? Dry aged wagyu beef, beef heart, malted bacon jam, Vermont cheddar, smoked tomato and frisee.
For $27 it comes with fries, and they’re great: crispy shoestring style, nicely seasoned, crisp and flavorful.
But they also sell “animal fat fries,” where the animal fat used to fry the potatoes changes on a nightly basis. When I went, it was beef fat.
These are really nice, but I kinda liked the shoestring fries better.
Next up, General Tso’s pig face!
This thing is insane, and for $85 it can easily feed four people. It comes with cilantro, pickled onion and pancake wraps.
We also tried a few starters. First, the kielbasa pigs in a blanket. The mustard on these was awesome! Great puff pastry, really nice flavor on the meat.
Soy-chili beef jerky. So tender and flavorful!
And finally, an array of desserts. Peanut butter pie, raspberry cheesecake, and an assortment of cookies.
I’ll definitely be coming back to this place to try some steaks. In the meantime, I highly recommend you get your asses over here for the Royalton burger.
THE CANNIBAL BEER & BUTCHER
113 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016
My wife and I came here with her sister and brother in law for a nice duck meal.
We started with the chips and dip, which are pork rinds served with a chicken liver mousse:
These were fantastic, but my favorite item of the night was this wagyu and uni tartare dish.
Just absolutely perfect. This wasn’t on the menu, and it was compliments of the house!
Next up was this really tasty blood sausage dish, which was probably one of the best blood sausage plates I’ve ever had. It was not encased, not too salty, and mixed with some delicious toasted seeds and oats.
The charred broccolini wasn’t too charred, and mostly stalks and stems as opposed to the florette heads, but I really liked the addition of grapes to this.
The snap pea salad with clams, black bean and rice cake was nice as well. We didn’t even order it!katskatsu
One of the other stars of the night was this iberico “katsu sando” pork sandwich. These things are getting popular in NYC, typically with expensive wagyu beef, but this pork version was excellent and we didn’t blow the bank account to try it.
Next up was lamb belly pasta, which was really nice and reminded me of the killer pasta dish my wife made with minced lamb belly.
And for the final star dish of the night, the Crown of Duck.
This is a full breast of duck cooked up to a perfectly crusted Chinese five spice -laden crisp.
Awesome. We didn’t order dessert, but two items came out to us anyway! Seriously great service here. First was chocolate mousse.
Next was yuzu ice cream with sea salt and olive oil. I loved this!
I will definitely be back here to try more dishes, and to try the menu as it changes with each season.
I’m going to keep this one nice and simple. Boucherie Park is the second location of Boucherie, which I love. The menu is the same, and the decor is very similar. While I like the ambiance of the original location a bit better, this joint has an area up front that I like to call the “meat bar,” where you can order freshly carved slices of prosciutto. They even offer baguettes and sandwiches during the day for lunch from this area. With that give and take on the ambiance of each spot, they actually even out at the same score: 95. You may as well jump over to that review to read more on each section (though I may need to update it). This place is excellent.
On another visit we had chicken and rabbit. Rabbit:
Please enjoy this triple whammy write-up about DeBragga Meats, Certified Angus Beef and Blackbarn Restaurant.
DeBragga Meats, originally named the Brooklyn Hotel Supply Company, was founded by Joseph DeBragga, Emil Guenther and James Heilman in the early 1920s. In the mid 1930s, the company moved to Washington Street’s “meat packing” district of Manhattan. In 1948, the company was incorporated under its present name, DeBragga & Spitler, by Farmar DeBragga (Joseph’s son) and Paul Spitler.
In 1954, Marc Sarrazin joined the firm. Marc trained as a butcher at his family’s hotel and restaurant in the Charollais region of France, which is known for producing some of that country’s finest beef. The joy that Marc took in his work, selling New York’s top restaurants the finest cuts of meat, was evident in the strong relationships the company developed under his sales leadership.
In 1973, Marc Sarrazin became President of DeBragga, and the company became known as one of the finest meat purveyors in the entire industry, working directly with the best restaurants and hotels throughout the New York metro region and the Caribbean. Marc retired in 1992, and stepped aside to welcome his son, Marc John Sarrazin, as President of DeBragga & Spitler. Marc John’s two sons Eric and Peter represent the third generation of a business that traces its roots back nearly 100 years.
About eight years ago, the Whitney museum purchased DeBragga’s Washington Street lease, and DeBragga moved to a 25,000 square foot facility in Jersey City, which operates six days per week (there are no butchers cutting on Saturdays – only packing and shipping).
Today, DeBragga works with large packers like Nebraska Beef and Greater Omaha. DeBragga are purveyors of boxed beef, not wholesalers. The Certified Angus Beef brand is the entry level quality here. There is no choice quality, and there is no commodity pork or chicken. Half of their supply is hormone and antibiotic free. They sell 120,000 pounds of protein a week, and they have 100,000 pounds (roughly 4200 pieces, or a million dollars worth) of inventory in their three dry aging rooms. Take a look:
DeBragga’s customers are less steakhouse oriented, though they do supply Strip House and Gallagher’s. Their major customers are high end restaurants. Jean George, Tom Colicchio, Daniel Boulud and others use DeBragga for their proteins. Blackbarn (below) gets everything from DeBragga. They even started an e-commerce business to sell and ship directly to people at their homes.
CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF
DeBragga became one of the first distributors of the Certified Angus Beef brand in the early 1980s, just shortly after the Certified Angus Beef brand began (1978).
In the late 1970s, the ability to get a great steak at home or even at a restaurant was hit or miss. The CAB founders wanted to set a standard for what would be considered a premium beef product. They found the best Angus ranchers and meat scientists to help them, and together they created 10 exacting quality specifications to determine what gets accepted into the program. Marbling, of course, is one of those key specifications. Four decades later, their vision to be the best of the best still remains.
All the beef in this delicious meal was Certified Angus Beef from DeBragga Meats. Chef John Doherty of Blackbarn Restaurant has been using CAB from DeBragga from the start of his career, which goes back to the early 1980’s, when he cooked for President Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and even rock gods Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.
He cooked up a feast to celebrate CAB’s 40th year, and it was incredible. Here is everything:
Rib Eye Carpaccio with Shaved Foie Gras
Bone Marrow with Manilla Clams
Rib Cap Ravioli with Truffle Cream
Spinach Salad with Beef Bacon
Braised Short Rib Stuffed Rigatoni
Dry Aged Strip Loin Roast with Veggies
Tallow Biscuits with Berries & Cream
19 E 26th St
New York, NY 10010
Le Coq Rico is essentially a steakhouse for fowl. They serve whole, half and quarter birds – everything from chicken to duck to guinea hens. The menu is quite impressive.
My wife and I went in with a photographer who shoots food photos and runs social media accounts as a side business, so we got to try a bunch of things.
First off, they make great cocktails. We tried their old fashioned, and it was excellent.
Since we went in for brunch, we also got to try a pair of their fresh juices. The orange one is called Sirocco Breath, and it’s made with celery, carrot, apple, turmeric and nutmeg. Pop a shot of vodka in this and it is an amazing cocktail as well. So tasty and fresh.
The reddish purple drink is called the Root Twist: beet, ginger and orange. Very nice.
To start, we had the Caesar salad with chicken croquettes. This was a great salad.
The foie gras terrine en croute was so amazingly flavorful. This has won competitions all over the world. A definite must order.
Okay now on to the main feature. This is a 120-day old Brune Landaise pastured chicken, poached and roasted to perfection.
I really enjoyed this. All the dark meat was juicy, succulent and flavorful, and even the breast meat was incredible – especially when you drizzle some jus on it.
We snacked on this with some fries and a mixed greens salad with vinaigrette.
Now, I know the chicken is the main star, but you NEED to save room for dessert. I’m serious. These are some of the best desserts I’ve had. Every one of them was incredible. Perfectly executed French classics.
100% Chocolate Profiteroles:
Chef Westerman’s Vacherin, Ice cream side:
And Sorbet side:
I highly recommend this place. Share a fowl for the table, and go ballistic on desserts. You won’t be disappointed!
I popped into this joint to try their burger and wash it down with a cocktail.
I went with the Old Smokey.
It was really nice – lots of vanilla flavor to it – but a bit too heavy on the amaro. Over all, though, I really enjoyed it.
Here’s the description of the burger from the menu:
Here’s what it looks like:
This thing was near perfect.
This handsome double Pat LaFrieda patty is topped with American cheese, arugula, pickles, caramelized bacon onion puree, and “sauce 17,” which I believe is a house-made buttermilk-based ranch mayo. The sesame seed brioche Balthazar bun holds up nicely to intense scrutiny without flaking or breaking. All around this was unbelievably tasty, and the fries that come with it are pretty killer too. Go get one before this place has lines forming down the block. $23.
I came here with a group of friends to tackle their dry-aged six-bone standing prime rib roast. Watch this:
If their regular steak selections are anything like that monster, I think this could end up being one of the best steak joints in town. Read on.
These guys dry age everything on site, and this roast was aged for two months (61 days). The edges had a great earthy, nutty and mushroomy flavor to them from that aging process.
And as you can see below, the center was cooked perfectly.
Unfortunately, on a second visit, the prime rib wasn’t as good. Still had great flavor, but the texture was a bit off for some reason. 8/10.
I did try their porterhouse as well. This baby was tender all over, and had a nice crust. It was cooked just right at medium rare too. 9/10.
I even tried something very special and unique as well. A 500-day dry aged strip steak.
This was wild. It’s not on the menu, and it was something the chef was doing experimentally. It had a super aged flavor that was almost like meat fuel or butane. I liked trying it, but I’m not sure I would go all in on something like this often. Too aggressive for me.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 8
In addition to the four major steakhouse cuts, they also offer that prime rib as a regular menu item, king or queen cut. Everything is graded at prime and dry-aged on site. I also like the fact that they proudly state that the animals are raised on corn, which helps develop all that tasty marbling.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions are all pretty good here from what I can tell. The sides are big enough to share with two people, for sure.
This place is on par with the steak joints in midtown, but the rack of ribs comes in at $80pp and includes sides. That’s a good deal.
This place has a great long marble bar with elegant surroundings. I would definitely hang here. They mix up a nice martini too, and have an interesting signature cocktail list.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
There weren’t any specials read to us (we had pre-ordered this monster in advance), but the prime rib rack is pretty damn special itself. As far as other meats go, you basically only have lamb or chicken. I can respect that though: focus on the beef!
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 9
We tried a number of items during this feast. I’ll list them all and discuss.
Bone Marrow: 7/10
This had good flavor but there just wasn’t enough of it. The grilled lemons were a nice touch though, and the bread was delicious.
This is top notch shit from Nueskes. Easily on par with Angus Club or Tuscany Steakhouse, and very close to a top five bacon app.
Mashed Potatoes: 8/10
I’m rarely impressed with mashed potatoes after growing up eating my mom’s, which were butter- and mozzarella- laden trays of pure heaven. But they were smooth and buttery. Very nice.
Mushrooms & Spinach: 9/10
Both simple and delicious. I would get these again for sure.
Chocolate Cake: 9/10
This thing is enormous and can easily feed a table of four for the $25 price tag. In fact, this fed seven people (though we also shared another dessert as well).
Butterscotch Creme Brûlée: 8/10
Wow. Super rich, very sweet, but really fucking tasty. Share this otherwise you might overload on decadence. Below is a shot of the dessert platter that came out on my second visit, to share among 10 people.
Seafood Selection: 8
There’s salmon, three-pound lobsters and big eye tuna on the seafood entree menu. I like how this and the chops menu are streamlined and slim, but that means fewer options for you picky assholes out there.
Impeccable. Everyone is attentive, really friendly and knowledgable. The bread basket here is quite interesting, and contains cheese baked flatbreads, chocolate and strawberry muffins, olive bread and other stuff. Very nice.
This place is gorgeous inside. The floor space isn’t gigantic, but the ceiling height is. That really gives the joint a grand and spectacular feel.
There’s also a private dining room, which is where we ate:
I will definitely be back to try some seafood and their porterhouse.
New York, NY 10001