Object Lessons: Italy’s Best Knives from Coltellerie Berti

For four generations the Berti family of Tuscany has been in the specialty knife business–they offer seven designs devoted to the correct slicing of Italian cheeses. (Looking for a tomato knife? A prosciutto slicer? A pesto knife? A sponge cake knife? They’ve got those, too). And as always, each knife made by Coltellerie Berti (translation: Berti Cutlery) is created start to finish by the same artisan (look for the initials on the blade) and expected to be put to work for a lifetime of cooking. Prices, too, reflect that devotion to craftsmanship.

Founded by David Berti in 1895–he taught his son, Severino, who, in turn, taught his son, Alvaro–the company is currently run by Andrea Berti, son of Alvaro, who has maintained tradition while venturing into new territory by offering the option of laser-cut blades and Lucite handles. Most knife factories these days have succumbed to modern manufacturing practices, but Berti, now available worldwide, cuts its own swath.

Five to Buy

Above: “We took our time choosing a great all-purpose chef’s knife,” writes cookbook author Heidi Swanson of online shop Quitokeeto. “If you prefer stainless steel over (higher maintenance) carbon steel, this Coltellerie Berti knife is a great option.” It has an eight-inch stainless steel, high carbon blade–”weighty enough for serious work, yet finely balanced and sturdy”–and a Lucite handle; $265.

Go to Secrets from the Swanson Kitchen, SF Edition to see more of her picks.

Above: Didriks of Boston offers a large selection of Berti knives, including this seven-piece Small Set for Kitchen; $2,064 with handles of black Lucite handles (shown) and $2,678 for ox horn handles (harvested, Berti says, in a sustainable, harm-free way). Didriks offers a good explanation of Berti’s full-tang and anchored-tang blade options.

Above: For cutting soft cheeses and polenta, the Berti Boxwood Bow Knife is $90 at March in SF. (The Round Cutting Board is by Blackcreek Mercantile; $75 to $92.)

Above: A Berti Set of Three Boxwood Cheese Knives in a fabric roll–a serving knife for soft cheeses, a Parmesan knife, and a cleaver for semihard cheeses–is $412 at March.

Above: This Berti Knife Set–a chef’s knife, bread knife, paring knife, and serrated tomato knife with Lucite handles–comes housed in magnetized knife blocks; $1,375 for the set at Quitokeeto. A variety of individual Berti knives in wooden blocks are available from starting at $261.

For more of our favorite finds, go to 16 Made-in-Italy Kitchen Essentials and Bella Cucina: 8 Italian Kitchen Systems. And read our Object Lesson on Heller Dinnerware by Massimo Vignelli.

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