"No meat, no party." This is how legendary butcher Dario Cecchini describes Carna Steakhouse, his first restaurant outside of Italy. And although he could have chosen any destination to open a new eatery, he opted for Baha Mar, the newest resort destination in Nassau, Bahamas. "It's paradise," Cecchini told The Daily Meal at the February 22 opening as to why he chose the tropical location.
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It's certainly an easy argument to make, as the property features three hotels (SLS, Grand Hyatt, and Rosewood) along with the island's storied Cable Beach and has a plethora of indulgent activities to choose from, like a spa, golf course, casino and multiple pools. But while those paradisal palm trees and turquoise waters are just feet away from the restaurant, the menu very much has its heart in Italy.
"The heart is the same: hospitality, passion, love," he told us. "But, the cooking style here is Dario Cecchini in the Bahamas."
The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating and plays off the environment by using a bold, earthy color scheme created by James Beard Award-winning design firm Meyer Davis. The various cuts of meat, meanwhile, come directly from farmers in Catalonia, Spain, and Panzano in Cecchini's home of Chianti, and the steaks are dry-rubbed with his Parfumo Del Chianti specialty salt. Meat is cooked on a charcoal grill to express flavor profiles and served tableside.
It's this attention to detail and service that has made Cecchini, a butcher for 43 years, the world's most famous. "There's something we need to seek to maintain the art of butchery," he told us. "The meat industry was created just to make more money. For artisans, knowledge is the true wealth that they seek."
While Cecchini has clearly proved butchery is a real craft - he was just featured on season six of "Chef's Table," after all - he actually didn't want to become a butcher. "I was in school to become a veterinarian," he explained in Italian as his wife translated in real time. "A year into my studies, I lost my father, and my mother had already passed away. So I had to go home and maintain my family. But I'm happy to have become a butcher."
Throughout his career, he has been an early advocate for ethically raised and humanely treated animals and a major influence in the Slow Food movement. He believes that all cuts of meat can be utilized when cooked appropriately, something he learned firsthand from his father and grandmother. It's this philosophy that he ensured was implemented at Carna to continue his mission to protect the art of butchery.
"There's a big difference between the meat industry and artisan butchery," he said. "Since there are very few true butchers left in the world, we need to give inspiration to upcoming butchers. We need to explain to everybody that being a butcher is a very important job."
That's why he had Carna executive chef Thomas Griese, who previously worked for Michael Mina's Mina Group, come to his home village of Panzano in Chianti. There Griese trained under the butcher at his Tuscan restaurant and perfected Cecchini's traditional butcher cuts and signature menu items. Diners can expect authentic Cecchini specialties such as Chianti wagyu beef tartare, Panzanese steak (a 32-ounce wood-grilled Linz Heritage Black Angus prime cut), and Tuscan porterhouse, which is a 32-ounce 21-day dry-aged Linz Heritage Angus prime cut. Carna will also serve fresh seafood and harvest vegetables, as well as an extensive international wine list.
But while he promotes using all parts of an animal, Cecchini does have a favorite cut of meat. "Boiled beef knees like my grandmother used to make," he said. "When I make it, I feel like my grandmother is sitting right next to me."
Can't make it to the Bahamas but have a taste for meat? Head to the best inexpensive steakhouses in America.
The writer's travel expenses were provided by Baha Mar.