Friuli-Venezia Giulia Dinner Specials
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
Wednesday, March 10th - Tuesday, March 16th
Tucked away like a secret between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, Friuli-Venezia-Guilia (or FVG to the locals) may be the last undiscovered gem in Italy. Though Italy is the fourth most visited country in the world, drawing travelers en masse to its famous Botticellis and Barrominis, Friuli-Venezia-Guilia remains a land cloaked in mystery, far from the gaze of many a traveler's eye. If you venture past Venice, you’ll find that FVG is the farthest northeastern corner of Italy before you cross into Slovenia in the east or Austria in the north. Its borders reflect FVG’s colorful cultural heritage, an intriguing mosaic of Venetian, Austrian, and Slovenian influence. Traces of its earlier Roman and Lombard past also linger in the design. Even the pre-Roman Furlan language of the Landin peoples is spoken in the region today. In fact, if you take a stroll down a city street, you may easily encounter multiple different languages spoken at once, from Friulano to Italian, Slovenian or German.
Perhaps some of the region’s neglect in the world’s romance with Italy has to do with its clunky, complicated name - a reflection of its complex roots. Friuli was, in fact, distinct from Venezia-Giulia for most of its history. Standing in a castle-lined piazza in Udine, for instance, you may feel as if you were in palatial Venice. The Venetian Republic commanded a heavy influence in Friuli for centuries, while the region of Venezia-Giulia was largely under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The distinct mix of cultures may have led to a messy name, but once you experience a taste of it’s mixed, dynamic, and vibrant food culture, it’ll be hard to forget.
Beyond the allure of its diverse cultural gifts, the FVG compels the traveler by the sheer beauty of its landscape. The land can be thought of in three parts: mountains, plains, and sea. And each, naturally, has its corresponding cuisine. Made up of the mysterious limestone mountains of Carnia to the north, the vineyards cultivated amidst the lush plateau in the middle, and the sparkling Adriatic sea cusping its beautiful port city, Trieste, to the south, it shines with natural marvels. Trieste, once under Austro-Hungarian rule, is nestled between the sea and the Carso, a craggy line of hills surrounding the city. The meeting of the warm sea and the cold Carso mountains create the famous Bora winds that race through the city streets. If you’re in Trieste in the winter, be ready to grab hold of something tight, as it sweeps through with a vengeance.
The dynamic tension between the mountain and sea, sparking the Bora wind, also bodes well for winemaking. Add in the unique, rocky ponca soil of Friuli and you have the ingredients for making extraordinary wine. FVG is gaining recognition for producing the finest white wines in Italy. The micro-climate between the Alps and the Adriatic allows for the production of age-worthy, crisp, aromatic, white wines, dazzling with minerality. The distinct FVG grapes brilliantly express the terroir, rivaling the great whites of Bordeaux and Burgundy, making them, perhaps, Italy’s best kept secret.
The Friulian tradition known as la frasca, reveals the remarkable hospitality you'll likely encounter traveling through FVG. When new wine is ready at family farms and venues, they’ll hang up an upside down branch, “la frasca,” as a sign that wine is available. Inside, guests receive, tajut, a little bit of newly released white wine. As the Friulians know, everything tastes better paired with generosity.
To share in the Friulian spirit, we’re pouring a bit of white wine from the FVG for you, too. Come enjoy a complimentary taste of a Friuli white wine this week, and explore the FVG through the dishes we’ve prepared for your culinary tour of Italy’s last hidden treasure.
Let's take a look at the dishes.
1. Wood Fired Scallop
Trieste, the coastal capital of FVG, passed from the hands of the Romans, the Goths, the Franks, and the Venetians to the Austrians, who held on for nearly 500 years. In 1719, the Habsburgs declared it a free port and the sleepy seaside city transformed into a vibrant, wealthy, and multicultural trade center. Despite remaining under direct Venetian control for only 11 short years, the Venetian influence is strong along the shore, as you can see in our Wood Fires Scallop dish (and Risotto Octopus below.)
This gorgeous dish is a show stopper. The bright, still-life worthy shell on the scallop is heightened by the deep, luscious purple of our beet puree - a feast for the eyes. Venetiean cuisine engages all the senses, enticing our sense of sight as well as taste. It’s as regarded for its magnificent displays of color as it is for its vibrant spices and distinctive flavors. In the spirit of true Italian bravado, the Triestienes say their seafood is better than the Venetian’s, for their ocean floor is made of rock rather than sand.
2. San Daniele Prosciutto
The mountains and sea in the FVG conspire again to create something mouth-watering and unique: San Daniele Prosciutto D.O.P., renowned all throughout Italy. The cold air sweeps down from the Carnic Alps and mingles with the warm air flowing from the Adriatic Sea - this is where the magic happens. The distinct microclimate of the little village, San Daniele, is perfect for curing meats. The exquisite dry cured ham, kissed by the sea, is a sweet, aromatic culinary experience to savor. Pair it with a crisp, aromatic white wine from Friuli.
3. Duck and Frico
Frico, a typical dish from mountainous Carnia, is cucina povera at its best. Ingeniously making use of what’s at hand, the Carnians created Frico from the leftovers of the cheese making process. It’s like a cheesy, potato pancake, sans the egg. Traditionally, Frico is made with Montasio cheese, a DOP cheese created centuries ago by monks in the foothills of the Alps. We’ve paired our Frico with Duck-leg confit, typical of mountainous regions.
With this sumptuous dish, we highlight a notable feature of Northern Italian cuisine in general: the predominance of rice. Let’s just say, risotto is to the North what pasta is to the South. The drier versions of risotto in the Veneto and Lombardy regions take on a creamier Venetian character in the FVG. As in all of northern Italy, the risotto here is mixed with almost everything imaginable from vegetables and meat to fish. We’ve decided to compliment our risotto with Octopus to display the FVG region's unique coastal terroir.
5. Cherry Gnocchi
Gnocchi recalls the Austrian culinary tradition of FVG. You may be surprised to discover gnocchi prepared as a dessert, a style uncommon in Italian-American cuisine but prevalent in the FVG. If much of FVG cuisine originated as humble peasant food, where meat was a rare luxury, the Friuliani indulged with decadent desserts. A wide array of opulent pastries are found in little villages throughout the region. Our rich gnocchi is filled with cherry, as Austrian desserts traditionally use cherries and apples. Pair this dish with Grappa, a distilled spirit, typical of the FVG.