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Tuscany - Style Restaurant Dishes Everyone Should Try

Dining Out

You might assume Tuscan cuisine is synonymous with Italian food, but a quick look at the menu of any Tuscany-style restaurant should quickly disabuse you of that notion. In addition for being renowned as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, Tuscany has long been known for its simple and seasonable fare.

Tuscan food is rustic, often missing the heavy sauces found in other Italian regions. Instead of butter, the folks of Tuscany use olive oil for cooking their meals, flavoring their soups, dipping their bread, and dressing their salads. The countryside of Tuscany is rich with olive groves, and Tuscan olive oil is highly prized.

Another aspect of Tuscan cuisine that sets it apart from traditional Italian fare is the use of meat. Most Italian dishes use meat sparingly, for flavor. However, the Tuscans love their steak, wild game, and homemade sausages. Cheeses are popular as well, especially pecorino (made from sheep’s milk). Tuscans also place a lot of emphasis on seasonable vegetables, such as asparagus, artichokes, peas, wild mushrooms, and fennel.

So next time you find yourself in a Tuscany-style restaurant, you might consider skipping your usual lasagna or spaghetti Bolognese and trying one of these traditional Tuscan dishes instead.

  • Bistecca alla Fiorenta, or steak Florentine, is probably the best known Tuscan dish and is a popular choice at many Tuscany-style restaurants. A three-inch Porterhouse is marinated in olive oil and garlic, grilled until medium rare, and served over a bed of grilled vegetables or arugula.
  • Porcetta, or roast suckling pig, is another Tuscan favorite. The tender pork is flavored with rosemary, thyme, sage, pepper, and other aromatic spices. It is then roasted until the succulent meat is surrounded by a crackling crust. Porcetta is traditionally served with pane toscano (a crusty, local bread) and a wedge of pecorino.
  • Pappardelle is also found on the menu of many Tuscany-style restaurants. This flat homemade noodle served with a rich sauce made from duck, wild boar, or hare.
  • Fritto Misto, also quite popular in Tuscany, consists of small bite-sized pieces of chicken, rabbit, mushroom, cauliflower, and artichoke that are dusted with flour and lightly fried. Fritto misto is usually served with lemon wedges.
  • Ribollita (“reboiled”) is a hearty, slowly cooked soup made from day-old bread, cabbage, and cannellini (Tuscan white beans).
  • Bruschetta is a wildly popular Tuscan dish that has made the leap to most mainstream Italian restaurants. Thick bread is coated with olive oil, grilled, and then rubbed with fresh garlic while still hot. The hot garlic bread is then topped with fresh tomatoes and basil, sautéed wild mushrooms, or a simple grating of cheese.
  • Panforte (“strong bread”) is a popular Tuscan dessert. A dense, round cake is richly flavored with honey, candied fruit, cinnamon, almonds, cloves, and ginger. Panforte is a Christmas tradition in Tuscany, but is still enjoyed all-year-round.
  • Chianti is perhaps the best known and most admired wine produced in Tuscany. This robust red wine, offered at any true Tuscany-style restaurant, is instantly recognizable by its traditional squat, basket-covered bottle.

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