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Florence: Ristorante Buca Mario

Shuvra, Francesca, and I enjoyed a superb example of Florentine dining at Buca Mario. It's a good thing we made a reservation---we managed to get the last table before 10 PM.
The restaurant is located downstairs in a warren of cozy rooms. The service is both extremely gracious and very welcoming.
We started, of course, with a basket of wonderful Italian bread.
I started with a prosciutto served with chicken liver pate and crostini. I have never seen proscuitto served in this style and I found it to be a wonderful, intense experience. The pate gave a wonderful contrast to the prosciutto in both taste and texture. It was served warm while the ham was room temperature, another wonderful contrast that also helped to keep everything together.
This is my classic Florentine steak. The preparation is grilled with garlic, traditionally served rare. You can't tell from the picture that the steak is at least an inch thick. Grilling something so thick requires a great deal of skill to be sure that the result isn't burnt on the outside, raw on the inside. Everything about my steak was perfect---the meat was of excellent quality and it was grilled to perfection. This poor steak never had a chance. I carefully carved out every last bit of meat. I suppressed the urge to gnaw on the bone.
I couldn't pass up this tart when I saw it on the dessert cart. The fruit was perfect, ripe and just firm enough. The tart raspberries made a perfect contrast to the cream. On the way out, one of the servers handed Francesca and I each our own apron emblazoned with the restaurant's name. These guys know their marketing, too.

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