Mondrian Singapore Duxton partners Dario Cecchini to bring a touch of the master butcher’s flair and passion for beef to Singapore with Italian steakhouse Bottega di Carna.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who loves meat as much as Dario Cecchini. He’s known as the world’s most famous butcher for good reason, after all.
Descending from an unbroken line of eight generations of Cecchini butchers in Panzano, Dario first came to the world’s attention when he held a mock funeral for Tuscany’s beloved Fiorentina steak back in 2001 the time Italy banned the cut for fear of the spreading mad cow disease. Since then he’s been featured in an episode of Netflix’s food documentary series Chef’s Table, drawing thousands of curious visitors to his butcher shop and restaurants in Tuscany.
But if you ask Dario, what the veterinarian-turned-butcher is most proud of – aside from the love for his wife – is his ethical philosophy towards meat. “You must guarantee the animal a good life and a dignified death, and use every part of the animal well,” insists Dario. “What began as economic necessity is now an ethical imperative. We should leave this world a little bit better than we found it. When you eat meat you must be respectful, reverential,” added Dario.
It’s this rare and commendable approach that has drawn him a multitude of fans from all over, many of them renown chefs eager to learn how to prepare and cook every part of an animal. To say that Dario has helped drive the farm-to-table and nose-to-tail dining movements across the world would not be an exaggeration.
But if you can’t visit Dario in Panzano? The good news is, Dario has come to Singapore. The master butcher has partnered Mondrian Singapore Duxton for steakhouse Bottega di Carna. Or more accurately, as Dario puts it, a “cow” house. Because Bottega di Carna offers more than just steak cuts.
When it comes to decor, the swanky and contemporary Bottega di Carna, as the flagship restaurant of the newly-opened luxury boutique hotel, can’t be any more different than the far humbler, rustic eateries Dario runs.
As for the food? You can taste the heart.
Dario has worked closely with Mondrian Singapore’s Executive Chef Alastair Clayton and Chef de Cuisine, Kenny Huang to put together a menu offering his Panzanese specialities.
There’s a little touch of flair, but it’s largely limited to some starters and various seafood components of the menu that go beyond’s Dario’s meat-centric fare. The bite-size Artichoke Tart, with its crumbly parmigiano, goat cheese and accacia honey, is shockingly delicious, as is the Zucchini Noodles of shredded zucchini tossed in tangy pesto, for example.
As for the seafood options – obviously absent from Dario’s original menus – we didn’t try. We save our stomach space for meat.
Bottega di Carna delivers.
Dario’s Signature Steak Tartare is a must-order. Hand-chopped into delectably chewy chunks flavoured simply with smoked paprika, olive oil, lemon, and salt – a departure from the creamier French versions that are lashed with Dijon mustard and egg yolk – to highlight the flavour of the meat. So too is the Warm Beef Salad, featuring braised meat sourced from a cow’s knees that’s served with shredded vegetables in a lightly piquant broth. We’ll have to come back for the seared rump carpaccio too, declared by a gastrophile friend as one of the best things he’s set to mouth in a while.
There’s steak. A butchery’s worth of steak. There are plenty of premium cuts to choose from – Rump Cap Picanha to Filet Mignon, and even Japanese Tochigi Ribeye or Hokkaido Beef Tenderloin, if you prefer even more indulgent cuts. And of course, who can forget the Bistecca Ala Fiorentina, the meat cut whose death Dario himself greatly exaggerated so many years ago. Here they are all simply rubbed with Dario’s signature dry rub before they’re thrown on the wood-fired grill. They are so delicious on their own you don’t need sauce on the side. Plus it might be heresy.
I do wish though that Bottega di Carna pushed Dario’s nose-to-tail creed more aggressively.
It would be interesting to see how Chefs Alistair and Kenny continue to champion Dario’s cause in this part of the world. But I’m guessing we won’t be seeing either gentlemen coming out of Bottega di Carna’s kitchen blowing a trumpet enthusiastically, or loudly proclaiming ‘to beef or not to beef, that is the question!” the way Dario does in Panzano.
Bottega di Carna
Address 16A Duxton Hill, Mondrian Singapore Duxton, #03-01, Singapore 089970 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to late, daily
Tel (65) 6019 6000