Steak Florentine: Welcome to Delicious.

bistecca alla fiorentina

“It’s like beef juice and herb marination had a baby, and they called it Delicious.” This was our 10-year-old son Gio’s description last week after his first experience with Bistecca alla Fiorentina, and Tony and I couldn’t have said it any better.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina, or Steak Florentine as it’s called in the United States, is a fancy name for a simple dish that originated in Florence, Tuscany. In Italy, the use of the term, alla fiorentina, in this case, refers to a specific type of meat which comes from the Chianina breed of cattle, famous for its great tenderness and flavor.  Florentine cuisine is as varied as it is delicious, and in addition to this interpretation, the use of the term is also applied to dishes featuring either spinach or beans.

There is no exact recipe for Steak Florentine, which has endless variations and styles. The cut of the meat is a defining characteristic. The Porterhouse and its lesser twin, the T-Bone, are the best cuts for this dish, as their great marbling of fat throughout the cut gives the meat its incredible flavor. This is a perfect dish to share and, with each steak featuring both a tenderloin and strip steak alongside the bone, there’s plenty of meat to go around.

Tony’s interpretation echoes a popular standard for this dish and highlights the use of fresh herbs for flavor. We are at the peak of summer, which also means that fresh herbs are at their best and you can use any that are currently growing in your garden. For Tony, this means an abundance of sage, rosemary and thyme for this recipe.

When cooking the meat, make sure your grill is hot, clean and lubricated so that the meat doesn’t stick to the surface. A gas grill is fine, but coal or wood would be even better for this dish. Tony mixes his freshly cut herbs in a small bowl with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and brushes each side of the steak before bringing to the grill.

Once the meat is on the grill, let it cook for three to four minutes before touching, so that the steak gets a good sear and begins to caramelize. Once grill marks are achieved, flip the steak and continue grilling until desired temperature is reached. Tuscans like their steak rare to medium-rare, which is also how we take it, but no matter what temperature you desire, Tony always encourages using a meat thermometer to ensure a good result. Let the meat rest for at least five minutes before serving.

When buying the steak, look for the thickest cut of T-bone you can find, up to about three pounds. Steak Florentine is typically carved before serving, and Tony recommends separating the meat from the bone first, and then carving it against the grain.

Traditionally, Steak Florentine is served with just a salad and a nice glass of Chianti, and the grilled veggie salad we featured here last week would be a perfect fit. Or, you could step away from the grill and serve it with our Tuscan Bean Salad, Honey Gorgonzola Hearts of Romaine, or a classic Caprese, all of which can be found on our blog at

This is a large, rich cut of meat, so the side dishes should be light by Italian standards, which makes it a perfect fit for a summer evening. Delicious, indeed.

Steak Florentine
(Bistecca alla Fiorentina)

Serves: 1 to 2

1.5 – 2 lbs. T-Bone Steak
1 ½ teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
¼ extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper

Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat. Make sure grill is hot, clean and lubricated before use.

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together, except the steak, until well combined. Brush both sides of the steak with the marinade and grill immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to one hour. Bring meat to room temperature before grilling.

Place steak on the grill and don’t touch for 3 to 4 minutes, so that the steak gets a good sear and begins to caramelize.  Use tongs to lift a corner and check for grill marks, then turn steak 45 degrees and cook for another 3 minutes to achieve “X” marks. Once achieved, flip steak over and repeat.

insert a meat thermometer in both sides to check for desired doneness, then remove from grill and let rest for at least five minutes. Cut the meat away from the bone and carve against the grain before serving. Enjoy with a simple salad and a glass of Chianti.

What We’re Eating: Tony’s Grilled Veggie Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

Lately, we have been obsessed with grilled vegetables, and we’ve been delighted by the abundance of wonderful produce already available at our local farmers markets. Over the past 15 years, we’ve developed some wonderful relationships with some of the farmers who supply our local markets, and high on that list are Jim and Connie Driscoll, of Driscoll Farms in Glyndon, MN.

Following a prolific annual flower season with several satellite nurseries now closed for the season, the Driscolls have turned their attention to harvesting beautiful, fresh veggies for our community, and their current offerings include zucchini, yellow squash, sweet corn, bell peppers,cucumbers, onions, beets, and tomatoes – a selection that is sure to grow come August.

In the past, Tony would visit Jim and Connie at the Dike East Farmers Market several times a week on his way to Sarello’s, from mid-July until the end of the season  in early October. However, due to flood protection planning, that location is not available this summer. Instead, you can find them and several other members of the Northern Plains Farmers Market at their new location in the west parking lot of West Acres Shopping Mall, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.

This year the Driscolls have added a second location and can also be found at the Moorhead Ace Hardware store every Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. We are grateful to all the farmers in our area who participate in our local farmers markets and provide us with the opportunity not only to buy fresh, local produce, but also the chance to meet the farmer who grows it.

We recently returned home from a week-long family reunion along the Delaware coast, which was attended by about 45 members of my extended Anstett family. Each night a different family was responsible for preparing dinner for the lot of us, and nearly every family had a variety of grilled vegetables in the mix.

On our night, we prepared mahi mahi fish tacos, a Mexican orzo salad, fresh guacamole, roasted corn salsa, spicy red pepper aioli, Manzanillo mixed salad and an extra-large batch of grilled vegetables. In spite of our efforts, we noticed that, just like every other night, the grilled veggies were the first to run out. Even the kids loved them.

What is it about the grilling process that makes vegetables taste so good? According to Tony, it’s a combination of taste and texture – the high heat of the grill caramelizes the plant’s natural sugars, which enhances the vegetable’s sweetness and alters its texture in a pleasing way. In addition, a wonderful smokiness occurs when grilling, even with a gas grill, which we enjoy not only by taste, but also by smell. This aroma prepares our palates for the goodness that’s about to come when partaking of grilled vegetables.

Grilled veggies can be enjoyed all season long and, in addition to the selection I’ve mentioned above, you can add mushrooms, asparagus, fennel, radicchio, and even lettuce to the mix of what to grill. At our recent pop-up dinner event at Sarello’s, we featured a variety of grilled vegetables in a green salad, a preparation which surprised, and delighted, many of our guests. Whichever way you serve them, grilled vegetables are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Grilled Veggies on Grill

Note the size of the veggies on the grill, before cutting.

Grilled Veggies on platter

See how the peppers and zucchini are cut smaller after grilling, while onions can be kept whole, as shown, or separated.

Tony’s Grilled Vegetable Salad

Serves: 4 to 6

2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise ¼ to ½-inch thick
2 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise ¼ to ½-inch thick
2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 ½ to 2-inch thick pieces (large enough not to fall through grill)
12 Crimini or baby portabella mushrooms, whole
1 large red onion, cut into ¼-inch rounds (keep rounds whole for grilling)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 bag mixed greens with Romaine leaves
Red wine vinaigrette

For the vinaigrette, combine ¼ cup red wine vinegar with ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil and shake or whisk until well mixed. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, yellow squash, red bell peppers and whole mushrooms with the olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated. Keep the onions separate and drizzle them with a light coating of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper on both sides.

Grill veggies over direct, high heat until grill marks are achieved on one side, and then turn to grill other side, approximately 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill and rest until just cool enough to handle.

Cut vegetables into small pieces 1 to 1 ½  inches in size, and quarter or halve the mushrooms. Toss the veggies in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons of red wine vinaigrette. In a separate bowl, toss the mixed greens with 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the greens on a serving platter and top with grilled vegetables. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, serve and enjoy.

  • Toast the pine nuts in a medium saute pan over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • For a heartier variation, top the salad with crumbled gorgonzola cheese and grilled chicken breast.



Sarello’s Fine Dining Says Farewell with Signature Sea Bass Recipe

Sarello's Signature Sea BassIn case you missed our farewell column in The Forum last week, we’re sharing it again here on the blog, complete with the recipe for our famous Signature Sarello’s Sea Bass. Happy reading and THANK YOU for 15 great years!

Twenty-three years ago, a young man looked me in the eyes and told me that he’d finally figured out the name for his dream restaurant. And then he said it out loud: Sarello’s. It took me a moment before I realized that Tony had combined my first name, Sarah, with his last, Nasello, and it suddenly dawned on me that I was looking at the love of my life.

Sarellos (640x430)

A decade later we opened Sarello’s and last night we celebrated its fifteen year run as a fine dining restaurant with our Farewell Dinner. I look back on those days leading up to the opening of Sarello’s and I marvel at our journey. We were seasoned hospitality professionals. We had traveled the globe together, working as hotel officers aboard luxury cruise ships, and set foot on every continent. We’d saved our money and paid our dues; we were ready. Who are we kidding? We were 30 – practically babies.

There are moments in life when you just have to leap, and that was what we did. Now, fifteen years later, we find ourselves poised to embark on a new journey, and while we may not have the benefit of youth any longer, we are endowed with wisdom and experience as our guides this go around. We’re ready, once again, to leap.

Since the time we opened our doors, we’ve welcomed a diversity of guests, including museum curators, bankers, wrestlers, clergy, doctors, farmers, nurses, bikers, publishers, businessmen, lawyers, CEOs, metal workers, dentists, crop dusters, politicians, artists, academics, and more. We’ve been privileged to use our business as a means to support myriad causes and organizations important to us and our community, and we look forward to continuing this commitment as we move forward into new adventures.

Cake with Opera Dinner Check

A special occasion restaurant from the start, Tony and I have also celebrated life’s milestones at Sarello’s, from the birth of our son to my parents’ 60th birthdays, our 40th birthdays, and even our 20th wedding anniversary.

But the overwhelming memories – the ones that will linger long into our dotage – are of the dozens of talented young people who have found their way to us through a calling to hospitality – our staff, our crew – our most excellent team. They have been the heartbeat of our business all these years, and many of you know them by name. We are grateful for their excellence and will never forget them.

Over the years we’ve served a wide variety of dishes ranging from classic Italian to French, Irish, Caribbean, North and South American and Asian, but there’s one dish that has remained on the menu from the first night to the last. Sarello’s Signature Sea Bass has been the standout dish for fifteen years, and for some of our regular guests, it is the reason they kept coming back.

In our new venture as a culinary events and meeting center, we plan to host “pop-up” nights every so often where we’ll feature a limited menu with one signature Sarello’s dish, just to satisfy our customers’ cravings.

If you’re a fan of the sea bass, you’ll be pleased to know that it will be the star of the menu for our first pop-up event, which will take place on Wednesday, July 22 and Thursday, July 23. For those two nights only, you can come in and enjoy a 3-course dinner which includes salad, sea bass and dessert for $50 per person (tax and gratuity are not included). Wine and beer will also be available for purchase. Reservations can be made via phone or email: 218.287.0238 or

Tony, Gio and I wish to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of our lives at Sarello’s for the past 15 years. What a ride we’ve had.

Sarello’s Signature Sea Bass RECIPE

Serves: 4 to 6

Citrus Beurre Blanc Ingredients:
2 lemons, juiced
2 limes, juiced
2 oranges, juiced
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ cup (4 oz.) white wine
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
½ teaspoon salt – increase as desired
1 tablespoon honey (or sugar)

Using a medium sauce pan, combine lemon, lime and orange juices, heavy cream, white wine and honey (or sugar) and reduce over medium heat until a syrupy consistency is achieved, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir just to combine.

Reduce heat to low and stir in the butter piece by piece, until sauce appears smooth and silky. Whisk throughout this process to ensure an even temperature. Add salt to taste, starting with a half-teaspoon.

Important:  Cooking over low heat will help to ensure that your butter does not clarify, thus breaking your sauce.  Once a silky smooth consistency is achieved, use immediately or transfer to another container and keep in a hot water bath on stove top until ready to use.  The water should not be boiling.

Sea Bass Ingredients:
4-6 8 oz. portions of Chilean Sea Bass, skin removed
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the sea bass fillets on a sheet pan. Lightly coat the top side of each fillet with the breadcrumbs, just to cover the surface, pressing lightly to ensure they stay in place. Drizzle the tops with olive oil and salt. Bake in oven for 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove and transfer to serving plates. Pour the citrus beurre blanc over each fillet and serve.

Nasello Family Summer Food Favorites

We love summer fun with family, and celebrating with food is at the heart of our festivities. Here are some of our favorite summertime recipes – Sarah’s favorites are the Walleye Cakes, Bacon Pancakes, and Easy Potato Salad, Gio loves the Flourless Chocolate Torte Bars, the Bruschetta, and the Roasted Red Peppers, and Tony is big on the Grilled Sirloin Roast, Grilled Bison, and Edamame Salad – to name a few. :)

Of course, it wouldn’t be a true feast without a little homemade Limoncello to finish the meal, would it? Not only does this Italian liqueur aid in digestion, but it will leave you feeling relaxed and mellow – in other words, you’ll feel like summer.

We hope you enjoy our list of favorites, and invite you to share your summer food memories with us in the Comments section below. Here’s to great food, good friends, and summer!

Nasello Family Summer Food Favorites:

Homemade Limoncello

Corn Fritters
Tomato Anchovy topping for Bruschetta
Zack’s Rough Cut Guac
Tony’s Marinated Olives
Corn Hummus

Parmesan Pepper Walleye
Grilled Salmon with Honey Soy Butter Sauce
Baja Fish Tacos
Walleye Cakes
Tom’s Crusted Macadamia Nut Mahi Mahi

Grilled Bison with Chimichurri Sauce & Salmoriglio Sauce
Grilled Top Sirloin Roast with Horseradish Sauce
Indonesian Pork Satay
Mojito Chicken with Grilled Corn Salsa

Salads & Side Dishes
Tony’s Edamame Salad
Honey Gorgonzola Hearts and Spears
Tuscan Bean Salad
Insalata Caprese
Easy Potato Salad
Pesto Pasta Salad
Watermelon Feta Salad
Roasted Red Peppers
Green Beans Nasello
Grilled Vegetables and Red Wine Vinaigrette
Insalata Italiana -Tomatoes, Avocado & Fresh Mozzarella
Peach Summer Salad

Dessert & Sweets
Honey Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Strawberry Shortcake
North Dakota Sun Brittle
Coconut Cream Pie
Grand Marnier Zabaglione
Fresh Berry Galettes
Patriotic Flourless Chocolate Torte Bars
Cherries Jubilee
Red Wine Peaches
Rhubarb or Lemon Granita

Cherry Vanilla Scones
Fresh Berry Galettes
Egg Strata
Homemade Bacon Pancakes
Raspberry Friands (Australian Almond tea cakes)
Easy Fresh Fruit Salad
Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Apple Sausage Breakfast Ring