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School's open, the butcher is in

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STEAK school is open. The Butcher of Panzano -- aka Dario Cecchini, the most famous butcher in all of Italy -- announces his Officina della Bistecca (Steak Workshop) in the heart of Tuscany's Chianti Classico region:

"In a very convivial and above all very Tuscan manner, we deal with the vexing issue of perfect cooking, of course on the grill, of Her Majesty the Bistecca alla Fiorentina and her close cousins La Costata and La Panzanese," he writes, referring to two other local cuts.

Last year, when I wrote a story about Cecchini's then-new restaurant SoloCiccia -- "only meat!" -- I saw the old stone building next to his butcher shop in Panzano where he planned to install his workshop. Still under construction then, it already had a huge fireplace for grilling and a massive stove installed. He'd just begun to plant a garden out back with plans to teach the children of Panzano everything he knows about food.

Now his workshop is finally open and, says Cecchini, who was profiled in Bill Buford's bestselling book "Heat," "we are looking forward to that time of year of hearth and grill, to enjoying together the quintessence of everything Tuscan -- conviviality, good food, friendship and lots of fine steaks to savor bite by bite."

Sounds good, very good. Furthermore, he advises, the school is not for those of little appetite: in other words, come hungry. Each class, held Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, lasts three hours and costs 70 euros (about $103). You may bring your own wine with no corkage fee. And because the room can accommodate only 30 people, reservations are advised. You'll find contact information on Cecchini's blog (dariocecchini.blogspot.com).

Check your frequent-flier miles. Now.

Grillin' at the Palazzo

Red-meat eaters alert: The Palazzo, the new 3,068-suite resort next to the Venetian, opened last weekend with not one, but three steakhouses. Carnevino, a new Italian steakhouse from Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, was taking walk-ins and reservations, but Cut, Wolfgang Puck's spinoff of his Beverly Hills steakhouse, won't be serving up Kobe beef and Midwestern steaks until later next month. Meanwhile, Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro from the Grove in Los Angeles is open and occupying a highly visible location at one edge of the Palazzo's casino.

Still to come: Restaurant Charlie, a seafood-focused restaurant from Chicago's Charlie Trotter slated to debut in the next week or two, Table 10 from Emeril Lagasse and Espressamente illy from the Italian coffee producer Illycaffé.

Small bites

* Chef Josef Centeno, who left Opus this month, says he is "narrowing in on a space" in Silver Lake. Centeno says the restaurant, Volver, will have limited seating, with tasting menus available only at the planned chef's counter. He also plans to offer a more casual a la carte menu and bäcos, his flatbread-pizza-taco hybrid.

* Don Dickman, formerly executive chef at Matteo's and Rocca, has traded pasta bolognese for mac n' cheese in his new role as executive chef and partner at Dish, a La Cañada Flintridge bistro featuring classic American cuisine.

Dish, 734 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge, (818) 790-5355, www.dishbreakfastlunchanddinner.com.

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