'We're buying the bulls': New Long Beach steakhouse Chianina to raise its own beef

A new steakhouse in Long Beach featuring its own beef -- as in it will breed and raise cattle just for the restaurant -- is set to open in December.

From the restaurant group behind Michael's on Naples, it's called Chianina, named after the type of cattle -- one of the world's oldest breeds, used famously (although with increasingly less frequency) in Italy for bistecca alla fiorentina.

Michael's Restaurant Group adds the steakhouse to its growing roster of restaurants, including Michael's on Naples and three pizzerias. The 90-seat Chianina takes over the space that formerly housed the historic Kelly's of Naples, which has a full bar.

"We're calling it a boutique steakhouse," says chef David Coleman, who is also chef at Michael's on Naples, "not a large restaurant like Cut. It’s going to be fairly small, but definitely the emphasis is American steakhouse."

The Chianina beef, from snowy-white cows known for their muscle mass and lean, tender meat, is "one of the signature things we’re working on. We're buying the bulls and breeding the cattle. We've purchased five cattle, and we’ll have the beef sometime within a year. It's not something we'll have on day one, though we will have prime beef, Piedmontese beef."

The cows are being raised in Iowa, and meanwhile the restaurant group is figuring out the logistics of transporting the carcasses to Southern California for processing.

"We stick with sustainable and local as much as possible," Coleman says, "but it’s harder with a larger animal. At Michael’s, with ducks and lambs and pigs it's easy. But [a Chianina cow] is a 500-pound animal."

Coleman says the premium cuts such as porterhouses and New Yorks will be used at the steakhouse and the rest at all five restaurants. "The quality of the ground beef off the Chianina is amazing. And we make a lot of Bolognese at Michael's."

The menu at Chianina will feature not only steaks but seasonal small plates featuring seafood (oysters and crudo) and vegetables.

As for the meat, it "tastes like nothing else," says Coleman, and though it's lower in fat than many other breeds, "it's very flavorful, very tender meat."

Chianina, 5716 E. 2nd St., Long Beach.

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