Mac Dario and Solociccia

One of the best parts of our vacation in Chianti earlier in the month was our frequent visits to Panzano...mostly because of the food experiences we had thanks to Dario. And, yes, experience is the right word.

Our first food experience was at Mac Dario. A few days each week the restaurant opens up for 3-5 hours for lunch. There are only two options on the menu: Dario's famous hamburger and Dario's famous Tuscan meet sampler. Rob and I both opted for the burger and could not have been happier. It was perfectly rare, served with fries and veggies. Rare meat is something I'm learning to appreciate here in Italy. With really good beef like Dario serves, you just taste the beef in a way that a medium or well done preparation just would not allow for. BTW, no bun with the burger. Just good meat, plain and simple.

Our second food experience was at Solociccia, Dario's family style restaurant right across the street. This was actually our 3rd anniversary dinner (2 days late...they aren't open on Tuesdays or Wednesdays) and it was one I will never forget. For two hours we were served an endless array of meats. It was a meat feast. Sure, there were veggies and bread on the table, but this meal is all about the meat. Oh, there was wine, too. Total price? 30 euro. You won't find a better value.

I apologize for not having more photos of the Solociccia (which translates to "only flesh," in case you were wondering). In fact, I have just one -- an empty table:

We were seated next to an awesome couple (with an adorable and well-behaved 9-month old baby) and talked to them the entire dinner. We didn't even get their names because we were too busy chatting. That's the awesome thing about travel experiences though...sometimes you just meet cool people, have a fantastic time and get to remember them in that context! Good company + wine = forgetting to take photos.

We went to the 7pm dinner seating and since we were running up against the restaurant reset for the 9pm seating, we all flooded out onto the street where Dario began pouring wine and grappa. Grappa is poison, by the way. After Dario refilled Rob's shot glass for the second time (and after 4 glasses of wine at dinner), I had to cut him off. See blurry photo in the top right of the collage for evidence. I was having flashbacks of my 20th birthday when Rob and I were in college and knew it was time to get him out of there :-)

Coming tomorrow: photos from inside Dario's butcher shop.