The Friuli Venezia Giulia is a region tucked in the far northeastern corner of Italy. Bordering Austria and Slovenia, which was part of the former Yugoslavia, the food of the region is a melting pot of the Venetian, Austro-Hungarian, and Yugoslav cultures. Simple recipes are the philosophy in the Friuli Venezia Giulia. We’re often asked for our best restaurant recommendations, so we’ve compiled them here and will continue to add to this Friuli Venezia Giulia dining guide as we eat (and drink) our way around the region.
We have to start with our absolute favorite restaurant, just steps away from our house. Family owned and operated, you’ll find dad behind the bar, the daughters running around serving in the modern restaurant, and mom cooking in the kitchen.
There’s no menu; the day’s homemade specialties are rattled off in Italian. Lunch is a pre-fix menu with 3-5 first course choices of various pastas, the best risotto I’ve ever had, and the occasional soup. It’s followed by another 3-5 choices for the meat course and includes a side like mixed salad, potatoes, or whatever vegetable is currently in season.
Water, wine, and after meal coffee are all included for an incredibly reasonable €11.
Open Monday – Saturday for lunch from 12 – 2:30pm. The bar is open for pastries, sandwiches, light snacks and, of course, coffee daily from 9am – 11pm.
Fratelli Sardella (Best Steak)
One of the things we miss living in Europe is a fantastic, melt-in-your-mouth steak. Fratelli Sardella solves that problem!
The menu lists each of the types of steaks, including a 1.5 kg (nearly 3 1/2 pounds!) steak that’s just begging for a challenge straight out of the movie The Great Outdoors. But don’t let the huge menu intimidate you, because before too long your server will be wheeling over the cart for you to select your steak.
The Filletto, which the Sardella brothers boast as their highest quality steak from the best Irish farms, did indeed melt like butter in my mouth and was perfectly seasoned.
Expect to pay around €40 for 2 people with wine.
Open Sunday through Friday 12pm – 2:30pm for lunch and open daily at 7pm for dinner. Viale Venezia 76, Casara della Delizia
Nicholson’s Pub (Best Burger)
It might look a little rough around the edges with the Harley-Davidson memorabilia and biker-proprietor behind the bar, but the staff couldn’t be friendlier and these are the best burgers outside of Venice’s Hard Rock Cafe. The food is simple: bruschetta and a variety of burgers aptly named after motorcycles served up on miniature-sized wooden pizza paddles.
Burgers, beers, and fries for two cost around €20.
Via Pordenone 1, Porcia
Aqua (Best Seafood)
Owned by two Italian brothers that left Italy for San Francisco and then returned to create Aqua, a fusion of traditional Italian seafood and modern techniques learned from their time in San Francisco. The menu is in Italian, the restaurant modern-funky with splashes of red, the food is oh-so-amazingly delicious, and the wine selection extensive.
Aqua is pricey, around €100 for 3-course dinner and wine, so dinner there is perfect for special occasions like anniversaries. Reservations are required and dress is a bit more formal (read jeans and t-shirts will get you turned away) in this upscale bistro that makes us feel like we’ve left traditional Italy for trendy NYC when stepping through the doors.
Via Opitergina 47, Prata di Pordenone. Reservations +39 0434 621916
Wear your stretchy pants when heading to dinner at Bufalo Branco! Brazilian churrasco is served up (a selection of meats cooked skewered on swords with salt). Gauchos make the rounds with the skewered meats from everything like filet mignon and lamb to chicken hearts. It’s all accompanied by a buffet with over 20 different types of salads, hot and cold dishes, and various types of fish. Finish off the meal with a skewered pineapple slow roasted in cinnamon and then turn over your hourglass indicator to say your stretchy pants can’t expand any more!
Piazza della Repubblica 7, Prata di Pordenone
A simple looking bar, Al Fogolar has a large dining room where their pizzas are king. The friendly servers are constantly delivering pizzas still steaming from the wood- fire pizza oven.
Even so, we opted to skip pizza and try the local specialties like the homemade gnocchi with duck ragu and a heaping portion of calamari fritti.
No matter if you choose the pizza or pasta, it’s a delicious and very reasonable meal with water and wine at around €30 for 2 people.
Closed Mondays. Via Pedrina 1, Sant’ Andrea Di Pasiano
Set in a former horse stable, Al Cenacolo drips old Italian charm. In summer, dine outside in the lovely garden.
The menu features regional specialties like pasta fagioli, fish, and grilled meats like lamb chops. Prices range from €25-30 per person.
Mondays lunch only from 12pm – 3pm. Tuesday – Saturday lunch from 12pm
– 3pm and dinner from 7pm – 3am. Sundays dinner only from 6pm – 3am. Via S. Francesco 1/b, Pordenone
La Cucina di Gemma
Run by Gemma and Gianni, La Cucina di Gemma has a lovely large room (with heated floors to keep you cozy in winter) and a picturesque garden that feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of SS13, where the restaurant is situated.
Try the beef steak with balsamic and strawberries. Simple, yet delicious! And visit the shop for fresh produce and local milk and cheeses after.
Viale Venezia 9, Pordenone
Trattoria Borgo Peressine
A trattoria is less formal than a ristorante and generally there are no printed menus. Wine is sold by the decanter rather than the bottle and the cuisine features regional specialties.
Trattoria Borgo Peressine features fresh fish from the Adriatic Sea in dishes like taglioni with lobster, ravioli stuffed with scallops and shrimp, and mixed grilled fish platters.
Three course, wine, water, and coffee runs around €70 for 2 people.
Borgata Peressine 10, Prata di Pordenone
A favorite with the Aviano crowd is BeFed, a chain throughout the region. We’re not personally fans of BeFed’s Aviano location since the chicken is over-salted and often dry (a tactic the restaurant uses to get patrons to drink more beer). Though we would recommend the Trieste location.
That said, Chick-A-Boom is the same concept as BeFed with a whole rotisserie chicken served up with fries and a delicious sauce for dipping. And if you’re up for a challenge, they have a 1 kilo burger that’s just begging for a competition to see who can actually finish the whole thing. Tim enjoyed his chicken with a red beer and my only complaint is that Chick-A-Boom doesn’t even have wine. A good red would go great with their rotisserie chicken, which is moist, delicious, and not over-salted like BeFed!
The chicken “galletto” plate is €12.50. Reservations strongly recommended since Chick-A-Boom fills up quickly with the local crowd. Reservations 0434-62-8218
Strada del Mobile 77, Pasiano di Pordenone
Set on a balcony overlooking the milky turquoise waters of Lago Barcis, Hotel Celis offers a refined dining experience at very reasonable prices. The food is bio-agricultural from the lBarcis lakeland and nearby Cellina valley. The chefs prepare local specialties like venison and roebuck, using local herbs and dairy. The menu varies by what it is in season, so you’ll find ravioli stuffed with roebuck in a blueberry sauce in summer and risotto with seasonal herbs in the spring.
A light lunch of pasta and a glass of wine is around €10 per person. Reservations 0427 76376.
Via Dante Alighieri 3, Barcis
Orlando Bortolami, owner and Executive Chef at Mediterraneo, knows the value of only working with the freshest, in-season ingredients. Though the menu features pastas, meats, and fish, the real specialty of Mediterraneo is their flat bread pizzas. Pictured is a normale, with half and half of two different pizzas that came highly recommended from our server. On the left is a flatbread with smoked cheese and pancetta and topped with some tomatoes. We could really taste the smokiness and this was my favorite. On the right is a flatbread with buffalo mozzarella, proscuitto, and a special spicy sauce from the south of Italy. In the north of Italy where we live, spices aren’t really to be found and the this pizza with a kick was definitely a pleasant surprise. One normale was plenty for both Tim and I to share. Delicioso! We will definitely be frequenting Mediterraneo.
A normale is around €20 and is plenty to serve two people.
Open Tuesday – Sunday from 7pm. Via Pordenone, 7, Tamai Brugnera
Do you have a favorite restaurant in the Friuli Venezia Giulia that you think we should include?