Barberino is on the way the way to the much more famous Badia a Passignano, and while the later boasts a beautiful medieval abbey, a few famous restaurants and a winery, Barberino is a small town you pass through without even noticing it.
At first glance Da Bule is just the sort of typical trattoria that you would expect to find at any typical town off the superstada (highway). Tables are rustic and wooden. They may be covered with the red and white checked tablecloths so characteristic of the trattoria stereotype. The kitchen is on the far side, and you can see the cooks at work. Decoration is minimal, there is nothing to look at other than the steak; you can’t miss the steak. It is staring at you, challenging you, testing your will and your ability. Look how big it is. It is massive. Two kg (4.4 lbs.) of meat and bone. You don’t think you can do it, oh but you can!
This is Bistecca Fiorentina. It’s a female Chianina, 1 year old. At least ours was. They know their steak here. It makes a difference. This is the true Bistecca Fiorentina, tender because it is from a Chianina cow; flavorful, because it was seasoned only with salt and grilled to just rare with a crisp sear on the outside. This is the pure essence of beef. And it’s good, really good.
Perhaps surprisingly in a restaurant so focused on meat, the pasta and vegetables are of equal standard. Pepperonata is a bright colorful melee of peppers, cooked until soft and sweet, but still retaining their shape, color and intense flavor. Sautéed spinach is buttery and rich with vegetal minerality while Tagliatelle al Tartufo (tagliatelle with truffle) is a delight. Thin, tender noodles, cloaked with a thin buttery sauce and topped with shaved truffle. The sauce just coats the noodles letting the flavor and texture of the truffle speak for itself.
Only the service remains equal to that of your original trattoria stereotype. Wine may or may not arrive with the food. And they may or may not have the wine you ordered. The menu is a cheap print-out, but they know their beef, and its pedigree, and they will make a suggestion to help you choose your order. You won’t go wrong. This restaurant is so much more than it seems.
Via Cassia per Siena, 90, San Casciano. www.trattoriadabule.it; tel: 055 8249489. Closed Sunday.