If it were a toss up between Bistecca alla Florentina and Brown Butter Chicken, I would probably go for Brown Butter Chicken.


When in Florence, Bistecca alla Florentina is quite literally the first order of the day for any tourist. Huge, meaty, chewy, charred, bloody and tasty, it is served in almost every trattoria and restaurant. Thanks to the ageing process and the breed of cattle used, the Chianina, it is most definitely the star of the show.

Bistecca Alla Florentina is always served rare unless otherwise requested
Until… we tried Pollo Al Burro or Brown Butter Chicken at Trattoria Sostanza. Of course, like any good trattoria worth its salt, Sostanza serves a mean Bistecca, but their Brown Butter Chicken deserves the spotlight precisely because you can’t get it anywhere else in Florence. Not that I know of, at least.  Now, how a serving of humble chicken breasts is transformed into a dish that could taste so spectacular is beyond my culinary imagination.

Served still sizzling in burnt butter
If only I spoke Italian, I would have attempted to ask for the recipe. Although I doubt it would be given! Brown Butter Chicken or Pollo Al Burro is served still sizzling in a beat up skillet which is also the skillet used to cook the chicken. It looks like a simple dish, and it is. Nothing more than chicken breast seasoned and floured, then browned and braised in lots of butter. But the result is a revelation. The butter bath transforms a normally bland cut of chicken into something extraordinary.

Perfect with a side dish of French Beans
What makes the dish so outstanding? It could be the chicken. In another blog that also raves about Pollo Al Burro, the writer describes the chicken as not the industrial kind – but one that has lived a full life. Maybe it’s the butter. Maybe a special kind of local butter is used? It could also be the cooking method? Baked and then sautéed?

Whatever it is, the chicken is moist, perfectly seasoned, bursting with flavour and so tender. It goes perfectly with a side dish of french beans sautéed in olive oil and a small bowl of tortellini in butter.

Sos Menu
The handwritten menu. The chicken, Petti di Pollo Al Burro is quite pricey at E20
Know before you go. Trattoria Sostanza is very popular among locals and tourists and is always full. It’s a narrow, no frills restaurant and tables are communal and expect to sit check by jowl with strangers, which is admitedly also part of the charm. It is open for lunch and dinner but you need to make a reservation. You can walk in but the chances are slim. They only accept cash.

Sostanza Front
You can drop by to reserve for the next day like we did
A serving of Pollo Al Burro comes at a pricey E20 but is good for sharing, unless you are very hungry.

Trattoria Sostanza Via del Porcellana, 25/R, 50123 Firenze, Italy
Phone:+39 055 212691

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