Macellaio translates as ‘butcher’ in Italian, and ‘RC’ are the initials of founder Roberto Costa, who has monogrammed the name in traditional, historic Italian style.
It’s a fitting title for the restaurant group, which is a dining-room-come-butchers specialising in high-quality beef from Piedmont and tuna from Sicily, with current sites in South Kensington and Exmouth Market, London.
Founded by Costa in honour of his family’s butcher past and his love of the London restaurant scene, and in partnership with Italian butcher Daniele Oberto of Macelleria Oberto in Alba, the group seeks to appeal to international diners in South Kensington, and more local clientele in Exmouth Market.
It has also just announced its third site – a 1,200sq ft space under six-metre-high railway arches ‒ in London’s Southwark.
With a butchery on-site at each of the restaurants, and a policy of hanging whole beef anywhere up to nine weeks, the group prides itself on its sourcing.
Best of breeds
Using only beef from the Fassone cattle breed from the northern region of Piedmont in Italy, Macellaio purports to have exceptionally strong links with each of its suppliers, right back to the individual farmers who rear the cattle themselves.
As Costa says: “With an amazing product, there’s always an amazing person behind it.”
Photos of the farmers adorn the walls – as do heavy traditional butchery signs ‒ while old-fashioned tin bottles of Italian olive oil sit perched above the restaurant tables in colourful lines. The majority of the restaurant’s produce and ingredients are sourced from Italy.
Says Costa: “It’s not because British produce is not good. It’s just that I like to be an ambassador for Italian food.”
The meat – recommended to be eaten medium-rare, especially where the group’s bestselling rib-eye on the bone is concerned ‒ is favoured for its low fat content, low cholesterol, and its “elegant, buttery, nutty” flavour. It is slaughtered only after three years minimum, which Costa explains is about ensuring respect for the young animals, and ensuring the best quality meat afterwards.
As Costa explains: “Our cows are certainly different. The usual fat content for cows is between about 2.9 to 4.7 per cent. In our cows, it’s between 0.9 and 1.7 per cent. So it’s very lean. And if you dry-age your meat, as we do, from six to nine weeks, the flavour is not too strong, and elegant. That balance is so important for me.”
The cooking process – demonstrated here by group executive chef Matteo Riganelli ‒ is just as simple. We take a look.
- Sear the entire rib-eye in an oven at 300 degrees (ten minutes for every kilogram of meat).
- Cut the meat from the bone
- Return the now-separate meat and bone to the oven until cooked at the edges and nicely pink in the middle
- Carve the meat quickly into thin slices and serve on a heated platter with the bone arranged naturally
- Sprinkle with nothing more than sea salt and good quality Italian olive oil
- Serve with a simple side dish of pan-fried garlic, chilli and olive oil broccoli