Solociccia: Making Friends and Feasting on Meat

I have to admit, the first few weeks I was in Florence, the food did little to wow me. I was confused. It was a hard concept to swallow. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to get amazing Tuscan food, and thought that Florence (the capital of Tuscany) would be the place to do it! So, I started asking Italians where to eat (which has turned out to be the best decision of my life). This particular restaurant, however, I had to travel for. Chef Simone (the executive pastry teacher of Apicius) recommended Solociccia in Panzano in Chianti as a place where the food was incredible.

What? An Italian saying food is incredible?

So, Jessica, Colleen, Susan, and I made sure to schedule our Tuscany trip AROUND going to this restaurant (and eating pizza in Siena, of course). After booking reservations a few days before, we were off and ready to indulge in Tuscan specialties. Little did we know….that this meal would cause massive amounts of happy tears to flow.

We sat down in room filled with a round table, 6 other strangers, and this tantalizing menu, which is what we would be dining on. The menu was fixed, with products from their farms and cuts of beef from their famous butcher (Dario Cecchini).

The table was already full of fresh Tuscan bread and focaccia (which was out of this world). In addition  there was an aromatic hand ground salt seasoned with herbs to complement the breads.

The course-flow commenced and I found myself completely unprepared for the simple brilliance of the food. The first course was “muzzle and broth.” The muzzle was a fatty Tuscan cut of pork and the broth…

Well…I don’t know what the heck was in that broth, but I literally chugged it right from the cup.

I knew, from then on, that this meal would be unforgettable.

Even the flavor of the raw vegetables was out of this world. I consumed 16 carrot sticks (and that was just carrots)

and yes, I did count.

The fried meats, shown on the left, were incredible. There was an assortment of pork cuts, pork balls, and onions. Unexpected and absolutely lovely.

And then, it started to be painful how good this stuff was.

The spicy beef ragu BLEW MY MIND. I’m not even a meat eater, but this stuff…I’m not even going to try to explain. The look resembled a taco meat, the taste resembled fresh seasoned ground beef with herbs and a kick, and the feeling afterwards resembled esctacy.

Even the chickpeas and Tuscan beans (which were soaked in garlic) were absolutely phenomenal.

I took 5 portions.

And again, I did count.

“Rosemary up your bum” was the translation provided to us for this rosemary seasoned beef tartare.  Although I think we were a bit lost in translation, I was still able to thoroughly enjoy this dish. The pureness of the meat, even with it being raw, was aromatic and pleasant. Something that I NEVER would have tried if I would have been at home.

The roast beef was excellent and seasoned brilliantly, but the boiled beef salad took the cake for me.

And when I say take the cake, I mean I would rather eat this than cake.

And when I say I would rather eat something than cake, I’m talking crazy.

Which could only mean that this is crazy good.

It’s like someone took apart my brain, and comprised a dish to suit my ever desire in life.

The dish started with a phenomenally seasoned beef roast. Next, raw vegetables such as red onion, carrot, greens, and celery were folded in to make a dish full of flavor. Like, I’m actually so upset that you can’t taste it right now. Otherwise, you’ll never ever understand the emotions I feel towards it.

And as if we hadn’t been served enough amazing food, two more dishes came out. The left. a spicy potato beef dish and the left a caramelized onion beef dish.

I’m crying.

I just cant handle it.

I can’t deal with the withdraw. Give me a minute to contain myself




The special meal time daze that we were in was broken by the sound of Colleen hyperventilating. The seasoned salt overtook her. She became possessed by the soul of the salt and was unable to control her actions.

She started panting, pouring spoons fulls in her mouth, and giggling in long intervals.

She tried to wave herself with fresh air to regain her consciousness, but was unfortunately unable to do so.

So, we just sat there and watched her, snapping pictures of her misfortune.

It was entertaining….

but there was no salt left for me.

Which, made it slightly less entertaining because I wanted more of that dang good stuff.

And then, the famous Dario Cecchini surprised us with a visit (which was really cool).

What was even cooler, is that we were brought out dessert.

Olive oil cake.

Oh, olive oil cake.

Simple. Moist. Pure. Amazing flavor.

In fact, that’s exactly how I would describe the entire meal. It was cleansing and renewing. It was shared with a group of strangers that became friends, and it was produced as the fruits of another family’s labor.

I could feel the Tuscan vibe, and I absolutely loved it.

We were happy and we were in the Tuscan countryside sharing an absolutely fantastic meal together.

And we made friends!

These women were a hoot! Hailing from France, they were eager to attempt an English conversation. Although we lost ourselves in translation many times, the exchange was positive and absolutely fulfilling.

After we partook in the unforgettable meal, shots of Grappa (a liquor made from grape skins) were waiting for us outside.

I tried to sip it and realizing that was a mistake quickly passed the shot onto Susan, who had just joined us from inside. “Here Susan, I saved mine for you!”

Oh, how my selfish intentions can be masked as kind gestures.

On the other side of Solociccia, Dario has another restaurant (and meat market) where he sells homeade sauces, the salt that Colleen quickly became attached to, keychains with raw beef steaks, and other interesting handmade goods. We were  welcomed in to enjoy more wine and grappa, as if we clearly didn’t have enough already.

And then we all kissed a cow.

And because it had been a full 13 minutes since we had consumed any provisions, there was a spread of finger foods awaiting us on the other side of the restaurant.

And, naturally, we partook.

Colleen pointed out to me that there was bread with cheese sauce. So, I hightailed it over there to steal a slice.

I ate it.

And then….

only after I ate it.

I found out it was pure lard.

I’m tearing up as I speak. I just can’t come to terms with the fact that I, Lauren Elsasser, put lard into my body willingly.

So, to combat the idea that there was a lard glaze coating my mouth, I began to pop orange slices like no tomorrow.

It still didn’t work.

People, I ATE LARD.

Why…why oh why?

If only I would have been able to stay in denial for the rest of my life, things would have been better.

I tried to get over the lard issue by looking at the decorations of the shop. To the left, there was a prized library of cow stuffs, ranging in sizes from extremely extra large to obese-ly large. To the right, there was a lovely chandelier of feet, positioned in such a way to let the light pass through at unique angles.

And the cookbooks. I hadn’t realized that this Dario guy was such a big deal until I opened a few of these books. The fisrt to open was Mozza, the famous Italian restaurant.

It was signed and personalized for him.

Next, was Pronto.


It went on…and they were signed.

They are ALL signed.

I was in shock, yet thrilled that I was able to enjoy the fruits of his labor in a fantastic setting with fantastic food and fantastic company.

His business model is brilliant.

But the lard…that’s another story.

If you ever have the desire for fresh authentic Tuscan cuisine, then SoloCiccia is for you. They offer two seatings for dinner each night, one at 7pm and the other at 9pm. The restaurant has many floors, with each room having only several or one table which is filled by an entire party or partical parties. The set menu includes wine and grappa (and a lard ending) and is offered for a flat rate of 30 Euros, which for this incredible one-of-a-kind experience, is completely worth it. Find out more information on Dario and his restaurants at

But, if you dare to journey to the Tuscan hills of Italy, prepare yourself for the most beautiful views of your entire life.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Ciao for now!