This review is far overdue as it is my second visit to the venue in 3 months time. Over my 8 months living in Italy, this place has delivered 2 of the best meals I have had period. The first earlier this summer was with a visit from the renowned Italian butcher-shop owner from Chianti Italy who was featured on season 6, episode 2 of Chefs Table. Dario Cecchini was there in person with a packed house of Italians and Americans also there to see and meet “the man” himself. I was solo that evening and knew right there I’d be back soon but with others to share the amazing experience with. That is what this blog post review will cover. A group of 13 local foodie friends joined me for what I set up as a 1 day delayed 35th birthday dinner outing (Sept 5 being my real birthday) and it turned out to be an amazing night for food, conversation, wine, culture, and culinary amazement. Let me show you just what I mean.
Al Cantinon has only been open and humming in San Daniele for 3 months now. Its an affiliate-partner of Dario’s famed Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Tuscany where they use the same exclusive breed of Chianina beef cattle as Dario demands. Dante, the restaurant owner at Al Cantinon is a replica of Dario if you ask me, in both character, (even look) and passion for these unique cuts of beef lead by the highly sought out steak florentine (T-Bone/porterhouse for Americans). Dante has been good friends with Dario for decades and even lived in the town of Panzano for 10+ years where Dario still resides today.
On this second visit, we had the place nearly to ourselves with only a few other tables being occupied by other customers. I was fine with that as the first time was slam packed busy with many like myself eager to eat in the presence of the king of the Italian florentine steak as part of the spectacle that only Dario can put on. He makes a meal into an experience unlike any other. Dante I would say has the same talent as he added a vibe and flare to the meal that had us clapping, laughing, snapping pictures in awe of the meats as they came out one by one all evening long. He did well to assure we knew the cut of meat we had, why it’s grilled the way it is and even let us see it cut right from the bone after coming off the open hot coals in the back.
The dinners hosted here on Friday nights at 8pm require an RSVP 3-4 days in advance as they fill up quickly and even quicker and further out when Dario makes one of his quarterly visits over the year. We had 13 people with me and that filled our table right to the max without being crowded. We started as a mish-mash group of co-workers from the base, friends from in town and a few new faces (for me) from the Aviano Facebook Foodies Group page I had not met before. By the end of appetizers, we were all friends engaged in our shared passion for Italian living, wine, and darn good food.
I could spend hours on each dish we got but I’ll save that for you to do on your own when you do (you need to) go and try this place out for yourself. The pictures I have will do a far better job of showcasing the amazing culinary pleasures of beef that await you at Al Cantinon. Come, hungry folks! Bring the adjustable belt or stretchy pants too. Even with 13 mouths at the table, by the end of the night, all of us were tapping out with the phrase “mi pieno” which translates to “I’m full” in English.
One note to mention, these dinner are a BYOW (bring your own wine) which you are free to pop, pour and share at will all night. We had 6 bottles shared among our group and to my recollection, all but the sweet red wine (never been a sweet red wine fan) which I did not try, were hits. I knew I could count on these 13 people to impress me with their wine selections and they sure did. My pick to bring along was my go-to wine for pairing with any steak. Chianti Classico!
Feast your eyes (as we did our mouths) on these photos, the menu and the venue that is Al Cantinon- La Commedia Di Dante. (The comedy of Dante).
That phrase seems misplaced at first sure…..But once you experience an evening with this man holding the reins of your dinner experience, you will see quickly that its the perfect fit for this establishment as it goes much deeper than just a good steak dinner. You’ll see, just go, see for yourself. Go and “meat” the man behind the beef.
Phone: 0432 955185