Pure Flavor

SAV0713_GRILLINGIngalls Photography

Bistecca alla fiorentina: It means nothing more than steak cooked as it is in Florence, rare and barely seasoned with salt and pepper, some olive oil, and maybe a bit of rosemary. The cut is akin to our porterhouse, and the meat, aged up to a month, is lean and flavorful, traditionally from young steers of the world's most massive breed, the Chianina, a grass-fed animal from the Val di Chiana in Tuscany. This is a simple dish, the lightly charred exterior giving way to perfectly succulent meat, followed by bone, which, when gnawed on, yields the last savory bits. It's an experience not entirely replicable in the States, although Tuscan-born chef Cesare Casella of New York City's Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto restaurant approximates it skillfully with an Angus porterhouse that he turns "like a clock" while grilling to achieve an even sear. Enjoy it alongside cannellini beans with a squeeze of lemon, just as they do in Florence.

John Mariani is the author of_How Italian Food Conquered the World _(Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).