October 15, 2022

Food Network's wine and food festival had a dizzying number of events and "intimate dinners", many of which really looked stellar. I snagged tickets to this meeting of famed butcher Dario Cecchini and Stefano Secchi of NYC's 1-star Rezdôra who trained with Massimo Bottura at Osteria Francescana. Dario is a chef I always wanted to experience. I'm not sure I'll get to Italy again by the time he retires, so this was a great opportunity.

Overall, the event was well done, held at the ritzy Core Club. Appetizers were outstanding, especially the (unpictured) chicken liver mousse bomboloni. Wow was that mousse stellar! The charcuterie was also terrific. Wines were plentiful throughout the meal, including a glass handed to you as you entered.

The dinner itself was all over the place. The veal opener had stellar highlights, including the veal itself which was fresh and delicious, perfectly sliced. Coffee was a terrific addition to the dish - one I would not have thought of. Overall, the dish was trying to hard, as you can see even by the plating.

Next up was the pasta. Oh. My. Lord. That dish has put Rezdôra on my must-visit list. Indescribably good. Pasta was perfect, the swiss chard puree was perfect and the explosion of flavor from the prosciutto and 24-month parmesan inside was giggle-worthy. I need to fast for a week and then go eat my weight in pasta at Chef Secchi's restaurant.

The main event was up next, with Chef Cecchini coming out to announce the "Bistecca alla Fiorentina" in his traditional spectacular manner, horn and all. Check out the video. It's (and he's) as fun as it's always seemed. Dario is magnanimous and larger than life, greeting you as you entered the event and making no less than 3 individual trips around the dining room, table to table, bear hugging, posing for pictures, with the broadest smile you have ever seen. Bravo Chef. It's why everyone was here!

The steak? WOW did it disappoint. There are two hallmarks of Florentine steak - the t-bone presentation and that it is served rare. Like, rare rare. Not only did they serve you pieces from a platter (so you didn't get to enjoy the visual of the bone), but it was served medium well??? It was a quality piece of meat and seasoned well. But this was the pièce de résistance! How was there not a steak for each 2 people? And how was it cooked so incorrectly?? Difficult to describe the "thud" of an ending this was to the meal.

They came around with additional for those who wanted some. Round 2 was rare, but underseasoned. Round 3 was medium rare and the best piece of the bunch. But the dye was cast at that point. Dessert did nothing to lift the end of the meal upwards.

The event has a whole was definitely worth it. Wines were plentiful and delicious. Service was excellent. That pasta dish was to DIE for! I left fuller than full. And Dario is worth even penny! But  when I think back to this meal, I am likely to just shake my head at the enormous miss of the steak. Too bad. I'm sure it's not that way in Italy.

Charcuterie imported from Italy. They were amazing.
Bruschetta with chianti butter. So good. If there wasn't a slice of lardo on there, it tasted like there was!
Caviar and pea puree. Really yummy.
Veal Tonnato, caper leaves, coffee, botarga. The coffee was a nice addition and the veal was stellar. Dish as a whole was good, but didn't blow me away.
Doppio tortello stuffed with prosciutto and 24 month parmesan. One of the best pasta dishes I have ever had. Insanely good.
And then it was time!! Chef Dario coming out with his signature announcement of Florentine Steak!
The steak itself was highly disappointing. Florentine steak is served RARE! This was medium well. And how did each table not get an individual steak, so it could be presented with the bone? A crashing defeat to the meal.
They came around with more. This round was properly rare, but underseasoned. A 3rd round was medium rare and the best of the bunch.
Torta di olio di oliva with influences from Solerno. Mediocre.
Meeting the man himself.

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