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.
One very special dish you can get here, off the menu, is the roasted pig head.
It’s usually available about 75% of the time, but you have to ask your waiter if they have it. It’s slow roasted for hours, so you get that crispy pork skin on the outside, sticky sweet fat just beneath the skin, and all that tender meat on the inside. Especially the cheek.
Give it a shot. This is probably one of the best pig face dishes I’ve had, and I have definitely had more than a handful.
I really like this rough chop beef tartare.
And the new rib eye on the menu is a nice and tender fucker, 8/10.
RISTORO DEL CINGHIALE
122 E 27th St
New York, NY 10016
Last week the owner of Tuscany Steakhouse invited me in to take some photos and try out the food. This place used to be called Nino’s Tuscany Steakhouse, but just before the new year they did a big remodel and upgraded the place big time.
I was excited to try it, hoping that they made some improvements. I didn’t have the greatest meal at Nino’s, but this new joint was a much different experience. Check it out:
We ordered the porterhouse for two.
Let’s take a peek at the inside…
Oh fuck yes… nice and pink. Let me spread her open a little bit.
Okay… so this thing was perfectly cooked to medium rare. It had a gorgeous, crispy, well-seasoned crust on the edges. This is one of the better porterhouses I’ve had recently. 9/10.
I came back for a second visit and tried the rib eye.
This was cooked perfectly, just like the porterhouse.
It just needed a bit more seasoning and it wasn’t as potent in terms of the dry aged flavor on this particular cut. 7/10, but increased to an 8/10 on average after several visits.
The porterhouse was still incredible though. Perfect.
The filet mignon was also excellent. 9/10. Thick, tall, like a mountain of meat.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 10
While they only offer the basic four steakhouse cuts – filet, strip, porterhouse and rib eye – they do a bang-up job on them, and they dry age everything in house. My porterhouse was aged for 29 days, and it came from Masters up in the Bronx next to my facility.
A couple next to me ordered the strip and it looked and smelled amazing. This place gets the job done nicely.
After several visits, one thing that really strikes me is how consistent they are. Every time I go, I get excellent quality, flavorful cuts. That is rare to find.
Portion Size & Plating: 9
Portions are big here. The sides are definitely large enough to share with two to four people, especially if you’re going heavy on steaks. Plating is basic for the steaks and sides, but the apps can get a bit more flare to them.
The prices are very fair here. The steaks come in slightly cheaper than average for the location. Some of the pasta dishes seemed high, but the one I tried was worth it, and the sides and desserts are all great bargains, especially when you factor in the quality of the food for the price.
This is a nice little bar, and it was getting a good crowd on a Saturday as we were leaving. Same set up as the old restaurant bar, but nicer and remodeled.
I snagged a few of the potato chips that they serve at the bar. I like that touch.
They mix up a great martini too.
There’s also a great selection of wines here, and a little wine room in the back.
We tried some muscat with our dessert and it was just right. Not too sweet, not too potent.
Specials and Other Meats: 10
There were no special meats offered up, but there were specials of the day like soups. As for other meats, they had lamb, veal two ways and chicken two ways. Not a bad showing at all. In fact, I saw a veal parm come out after finishing the porterhouse, and I was so tempted to order one to go. It looked amazing.
Here it is:
Absolutely incredible. An easy 10/10. I would eat this every day if I could. It’s really surprisingly light, and super flavorful. The beef was so tender inside, and the crispy crust was the perfect contrast to the soft melted cheese.
Oh, so cheese isn’t your thing? How about the broiled veal chop, then? It’s a veal porterhouse, and it comes with grilled greens. This is amazing, and you definitely don’t see this cut very often in steakhouses, or anywhere else for that matter. 10/10.
Or the veal Milanese, which is essentially just a salad on top of a fried veal chop. 8/10.
I also gave the lamb chops a try. The serving size is incredible: three thick, double-cut chops.
They really nailed the crust.
And the inside was perfectly cooked. 9/10.
The “Pollo Tuscany” is essentially chicken breast, marsala style, but with roasted red peppers and melted mozzarella on a bed of spinach.
One thing I will note here under specials is the lunch menu. That veal Milanese is just $28 at lunch, and it is the full dinner size. They also have a special cajun rib eye at lunch too. This thing is amazing.
It’s a slightly smaller portion size than the dinner menu, but still around 18oz.
And for just $30 it also comes will full sized creamed spinach and mashed potatoes sides. Incredible! 9/10. You can also get the cajun rib eye as a full entree size at dinner if you ask, even though it isn’t on the menu.
Same goes for the porterhouse.
By the way, that cajun porterhouse was the best porterhouse I’ve ever eaten! An easy 10/10.
Looking for something more refined? How about surf & turf? Massive 16oz lobster tail and a 10oz filet mignon. Easy 10/10!
This was two slabs of thick cut Canadian bacon (we cut them each in half).
Te second trip the bacon came out a little more burnt on the edges, but still really delicious.
This shit was amazing. Easily on par with places like Angus Club and Maxwell’s Chophouse. This is a must order when you come here, and it goes very nice with their steak sauce (a tomato-based and horseradish-heavy sauce – also good with seafood).
Next was the tuna tartare. This was delightful.
It came with lightly salted avocado slices, lime slices, cucumber slices, toasted bread slices and a slice of tomato, along with some unsliced arugula. It was bright and fresh, and dressed perfectly.
I am tempted to get that every single time I eat here. But you have to explore. For example the salads are even pretty good, like this chef’s salad that comes with sliced shrimp and bacon.
We also tried an order of oysters. Just a half dozen, to see how the quality was.
They were excellent: Perfectly shucked with no bits of shell in them. Great size – not too big, not too small. Crisp, clean, briny, and fresh. Here they are, all dressed up and ready to get raped by my mouth:
For our sides, we ordered sautéed spinach and hash browns. Both were great, and very large portions. The spinach was seasoned just right, nice and simple with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic.
The hash browns were nice and crisp on the outside, while still tender and soft inside. I loved these.
Fries are perfect.
The Clams Oreganata were excellent as well.
Lumb crab meat is a generous portion size:
Crab cake was really nice and classically prepared, Maryland style.
The lobster cocktail was flavorful and generously sized.
I didn’t get a shot of it, but the creamed spinach here is the “creamless” style that I love.
The calamari had a nice batter and were perfectly cooked.
Here’s a special they had: burrata with portobello and roasted red peppers:
For dessert, we had a slice of tiramisu and a piece of chocolate mousse cake. Both were excellent, and I really loved their shlag.
Here’s their apple strudel – HUGE!
Seafood Selection: 9
There’s sea bass, tuna, salmon, lobster and shrimp in the entree portion of the menu. That’s a fantastic showing, and I bet they do a great job since this is essentially an Italian joint, and Italian joints are known for having good fish. While I only tried the apps and a bowl of lobster bisque, I am confident that this section of the menu is well above average.
Their seafood linguini was incredible. It was jam packed with perfectly cooked shrimp, clams, calamari and even a half lobster.
Upon multiple visits now, I can confirm that the seafood is excellent. I tried the grilled tuna and the grilled salmon. I would definitely get both of them again, and the portion size is great.
The waiters are awesome here, and the management is super nice and engaging. They all know their stuff and can answer any questions you have, whether it’s the basics of the steak cuts or the specifics of aging. They’re even great with super old bottles of wine with delicate corks.
The table bread consisted of onion rolls and some sliced Italian bread, served with butter. This stuff is also great with their steak sauce.
This place made a great turnaround in ambiance. I loved the brick walls in there last time, and the overall cozy feel to the place. Now, with white-washed brick walls and deep, elegant wood finishes, this place feels more like what it is – a really nice steakhouse.
It still has some nooks and crannies in the dining room where you can get a more private feel, which I really like, and there’s even a separate room where you can host a party or larger group. They’ve really done a great job in here.
No bull: this place is really nice, and I’m glad it’s only a block away.
BURGER UPDATE! Awesome burger here. Well seasoned, juicy, tender, nicely ground and packed, excellent cheese coverage, great fresh sesame seed bun. I only wish it has a little bit of dry aged flavor, and it would be a rival to Lugers.
PRIME RIB UPDATE!!!
On Wednesdays, this joint is now offering massive 26-28oz slabs of prime rib for $70. The cut is a la carte, but comes with some nice jus or gravy type sauce poured over the top. They only offer about seven or eight portions each Wednesday, so make sure you get there early to secure yours!
117 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019
This place grabbed my attention when I saw the meat in their window as I walked by.
The “Italian Steakhouse” concept has been picking up momentum lately, with places like Costata, Quality Italian and Il Mulino Prime developing lots of buzz. I had to try it. Plus is it just down the street from our apartment.
My steak was a little bit on the bland side unfortunately. It was cooked perfectly, and my compliments to the chef for a wonderful sear, but I think it was under-seasoned and just didn’t have some of the oomph that some other places nearby have. It was served on a hot plate that smelled deliciously of butter.
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 6
The cuts in the window looked fantastic, so I will have to be kind in this section, despite my steak being a bit gristled and fatty. I love a good rib eye that has soft, jelly-like fat, but my cut was laced with some of the more tough to eat ribbons of fat. A shame too, because it was indeed cooked so beautifully. They do offer all the basic steak cuts though: porterhouse, strip, filet and rib eye.
Portion Size & Plating: 8
Portions here are just right. Not too much, not too little. You’ll go home full, and the plating is simple and basic, clean, neat, and without pretense.
I felt that the price was a bit high given the fact that my steak was not up to snuff. At $52 I expect near perfection. My wife’s chicken dish was fairly priced, however, as were the rest of the items we ordered. We stayed away from the appetizers though, as they seemed a little steep as well.
This joint has a very cool bar area. With brick arches and columns to split it away from the main dining areas, you feel like you are in a cozy neighborhood spot. There’s also live music near the main entrance and bar area too, so it makes for a nice place to have a drink.
Specials and Other Meats: 8
There were no specials read to us, but as far as other meats go, they did offer an ossobuco dish, and various veal, chicken and lamb preparations: a solid showing. My wife had Cornish Hen, which was really nice. Crispy skin, juicy meat all over (even the tits), and a nice rosemary wine flavor pairing. The only down side to her dish was that the broccoli rabe it was served with was not seasoned (needed salt).
Apps, Sides & Desserts: 6
We started with just a single slice of Canadian bacon (aka ham). It was nice, just maybe needed a sauce to pair with it.
We also did a side of sautéed spinach. This was really nice. Smelled really fresh, tasted of garlic and oil, and was generous in size.
For dessert we tried the tiramisu. This was okay. It wasn’t boozy, and it was nice and soft in texture, but the top was covered in what tasted like frozen cool ship cake frosting. That was a little off-putting but otherwise it was enjoyed.
Seafood Selection: 9
There’s lots to choose from here for seafood. They have a ton of nice shellfish on the app menu, along with smoked salmon (which was very tempting). For entrees they offer fresh lobster, lobster tails, salmon, sea bass, tuna, shrimp and even a whole roasted fish of the day. Nice! I can’t, in good conscience, give full points though since I didn’t get a chance to try any of it.
I thought our service was a bit on the slow side for a party of two. To Ninos’ defense, though, the place was really busy, so I can’t fault them for that. I’m happy to see businesses keeping busy and having a full house. Also the manager Benny was really friendly, well-dressed, and had a great table side manner. Everyone was pleasant and nice, and even the table bread was pretty good, served with a bowl of olive oil and olives.
This place has a nice cozy, warm feel to it. A winter’s night was the perfect time for us to come, I think. The musician was playing a mix of Christmas music and Sinatra style favorites, and a few couples had even gotten up to dance for a song or two. Very nice.