Italy's Legendary Butcher Comes to New York and Boston


Faith Willinger

I've got a thing for butchers, and Dario Cecchini, from the village of Panzano in Chianti, is my very favorite butcher. I've written posts about him (here and here). And I am willing to attend almost any event he's involved with because I know I'll have a good time and eat well. Dario works with whole animals—beef and pork, with surgical skills and the greatest respect for each cut, the world beyond filet. He sells prime cuts at his butcher shop, but most importantly transforms the rest, some for sale in the shop, the rest offered in his restaurants, Solociccia, Officina della Bistecca, and Dario+. It's an amazing formula. Alice Waters, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver as well as less famous food-lovers from all over the world are fans.

Dario will do a beef demo, taking apart half a cow, dividing it into its Tuscan cuts.

And now Dario's coming to the U.S. to promote his mission—respect for the whole animal, quality meat, and artisanal butchering. Giovanni Manetti, owner of the super (and organic) winery Fontodi, is sponsoring the events. I'm going with them. Dario will do a beef demo, taking apart half a cow, dividing it into its Tuscan cuts, discussing what he does with each one at his butcher shop and restaurants. I'll narrate.

He'll be assisted by Gaetano Arnone, a promising young butcher who worked with him in Panzano and is now employed at Eataly in New York. This is part of Dario's master plan to have a school for butchers in Panzano, helping to bring back a profession that was practically lost in most of the U.S. There'll be a "whole cow" dinner, paired with the Fontodi's wines, perfect with beef. The Chianti Classico is a personal favorite. I'll make my signature dish, fettunta, Tuscan garlic bread with Fontodi's extra virgin. Dario's dishes will include beef tartare raw and cooked, a jumbo baked meatball called Cosimino ("little" Cosimo—think Medici—balls on their coat of arms), boiled beef and raw vegetable salad, Florentine roast beef, braised "imprisoned" beef. Dessert will not be made with meat.

In New York the demo will be at the Italian Culinary Academy on January 24, the dinner at Del Posto, since Mario Batali and Dario are old friends. And on January 25 we'll be at the Panzano Market in Southborough outside Boston, for the demo, followed by wine tasting and dinner at their restaurant.

I look forward to seeing Dario's U.S. fans, aspiring butchers, and carnivorous Italophiles at any of these events.

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Faith Willinger is a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. More

Faith Heller Willinger is a born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and was seduced by Italian regional cooking. Faith has spent more than 30 years searching for the best food and wine, as well as the world beyond the table from the Alps to Sicily. She has no regrets about mileage or calories. Faith was awarded the prestigious San Pellegrino award for outstanding work as an ambassador of Italian cooking. She lives full-time in Florence with her Tuscan husband, Massimo. Her son Max lives in Milan. She's the author of the bestselling (9th printing) guidebook Eating in Italy, the cookbook Red, White & Greens, and the narrative recipe book Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Faith teaches in her kitchen in Florence on Wednesdays, supplied with freshly picked produce from her favorite farmers. Check out her web site at

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