After Hours: Osteria al Curtif in Cordenons, Italy, serves stick-to-the-ribs Italian
By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 27, 2014
Scores of books have been written about the Mediterranean diet. Italian food, in general, is seen as light and healthy.
And then there’s frico.
The dish — a combination of fried cheese, potatoes, butter and a host of other potential ingredients — is commonly found only in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, a small region in the northeastern corner of Italy that’s home to Aviano Air Base.
Most Italians haven’t even tried it. Though the recipes vary, the dish dates back hundreds of years to a time when the region was much poorer. And since people spent much of their time working hard in the fields or at some other manual labor, it was meant to be filling.
That hasn’t changed, though some of the ingredients added to the dish have over the years. Frico is a frequent offering on menus of this region’s restaurants that specialize in local food. But it’s got a permanent spot on the menu at Osteria al Curtif, a family-run restaurant in Cordenons.
Al Curtif, which opened in 1989, serves several traditional dishes. Some, such as spaghetti carbonara, get a different twist. That dish, most famous in the Lazio region, is served with sausage instead of bacon at al Curtif, and the sauce is much lighter than the standard take. Other dishes, such as orzotto (barley) with zucchini and water buffalo cheese, and baccala Vicentina (dried cod that’s served in a stew of sorts), are more famous in other parts of northern Italy.
But frico appears in five variations on the Al Curtif menu: leeks, pears, sausage, bacon and radicchio. They range in price from 8 euros to 10 euros. The large portions are rich and filling — so much so that it might be wise to walk or bike the 15 miles or so back to Aviano. Or take a frico-induced nap.
There’s also a section of the menu for those interested in avoiding gluten. That includes appetizers such as San Daniele ham, lardone (bacon) and a torte made of Montasio cheese and polenta.
Second-course options include sliced beef with fresh rosemary and pork crusted in pistachios. A board on the wall lists a dozen or so local wines available by the glass. More than 100 varieties from around the region and the world are available, according to a brochure.
Al Curtif is housed in a 19th-century farmhouse. The restaurant’s name comes from the Friulian word for “courtyard.” And it’s possible to sit outside during part of the year. The rest of the time, customers dine in a few small rooms that seat about 50 people. Though it might be necessary to take away a table or two if they’re all having frico.
Osteria al Curtif
Address: Via Del Cristo 3, Cordenons, Italy. Cordenons is a short drive from Aviano. Turn left from the A-P highway onto the SS-13 and take a left at the next stoplight, turning right at the traffic circle onto Via Maestra. That’s the main road into Cordenons. Turn right on Via Del Cristo (just after the Agip gas station). The restaurant is on the right after a few blocks.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 7-10:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Open for lunch Mondays. Closed Tuesdays.
Prices: Appetizers from 8 euros (about $11.35) to 15 euros; first courses 8 euros, second courses 13 euros to 15 euros; frico dishes 8 euros to 10 euros; glasses of wine 1 euro to 2.50 euros.
Menu: In Italian (some English spoken and some dishes translated on brochure at bar).
Information: Telephone: (+39) 0434-931038; Web: www.osterialcurtif.it (in Italian).
“Frico,” a specialty of the Friuli-Veneiza Giulia region in Italy, is about as heavy as it gets when it comes to Italian food. It’s generally made from cheese and potatoes with a number of other ingredients possible. Osteria al Curtif boasts five kinds of “frico,” all served with a side of grilled polenta.
KENT HARRIS/STARS AND STRIPES