Ristorante Il Tullio is a local institution. Florentines have been coming here to this former roadside rest stop since the 1958. The old storefront still remains, a simple deli counter where you can a get a sandwich filled with sliced assorted cured meats or pecorino cheeses. Over the years guests started asking for hot food and the family opened a restaurant which has since become one of the best-known restaurants for meat lovers. Just 15 minutes from the city center, it seems worlds away, tucked away along a country road among olive groves, yet locals some here in droves to enjoy boundless antipasti and grilled meats.
Almost everyone starts with the Tullio Grand Antipasto Misto, and you should too. It includes an incredible selection of Tuscan cured meats: fennel seed studied finochiona, salty cured lardo, slices of Tuscan-style prosciutto, mortadella (from Bologna), rigatino (Tuscan pancetta), two different kinds of salami, as well as two different pecorino cheeses, stuffed fried olives, potato croquettes, fried vegetables, and four different kinds of crostini: with tomato, white beans and olive oil, and the classic Tuscan chicken liver on both crostini and on fried polenta. In spring a tray of fresh fava beans still in the shell came to the table as well, to shell and eat raw alongside pecorino cheese as the Tuscans do. (See baccelli.)
Let this be the star of the show. The quality of the cured meats and cheeses is exacting, and the portions are generous. Let the waiters suggest how much to order – few will finish.
Anything that comes next is an afterthought, unless it is one of the monstrous Bistecca Fiorentina, which arrive at the majority of the tables. You are wise to order only a few dishes for the table to share. Pastas are uninspiring, but choices for meat abound, numerous grilled meats, Fried Chicken and Rabbit, Veal Scallopine or Peposo, the local beef stew.
Service is casual and amiable, antipasti arrive quickly, and servers clear tables with rolling carts. Ask for the wine list and they send you to look at the shelves on the wall. Surprisingly those shelves offer a better list than many restaurants in town, you will find a few of the best names of Tuscan wines, as well as some lesser known gems. Alternately, Il Tullio offers their own house wine from the surrounding vineyards, which just like the restaurant, offers a true taste of Tuscany.
Signature Dish: Grand Antipasto Misto il Tullio (Il Tullio Signature Mixed Appetizer), Bistecca Fiorentina, Grilled Steak
Get It!: Grand Antipasto Misto il Tullio (Il Tullio Signature Mixed Appetizer)
Via Ontignano, 48, Fiesole. www.ristorantetullio.it; tel: +39 055697354. Closed Monday. Dinner Tuesday – Sunday. Lunch only on weekends.