After Hours: Antica Osteria Al Forno in Refrontolo, Italy
Stars and Stripes July 6, 2012
Just about any tourist who ventures into Refrontolo, Italy, several kilometers off the beaten path, is looking for one thing: wine.
The province of Treviso is home to Prosecco (Italy’s version of Champagne) and there are vineyards everywhere in the hills between Conegliano and Vittorio Veneto. Those looking for red wine can try the local specialty, Refrontolo Passito.
So don’t be surprised to receive a confused look or shake of the head when failing to order one of these wines during a visit to one of the many eating establishments in the area.
But at Antica Osteria Al Forno, it isn’t just about the wine.
The Piol family has run the restaurant from its present location for 27 years, according to Mario Piol. But he says his family has been living and cooking in the area for more than 160 years. Today, he and his wife, Rosita, run the restaurant and offer a variety of traditional dishes, often made with produce from their own garden.
There’s not much English spoken and there’s no written menu to translate, so listen to his presentation carefully. Just about everything sounded interesting during a recent visit.
Appetizers included pickled eggplant and mountain cheese, a spinach tart with cheese sauce, faro with foie gras or snails.
Ravioli with (bacon), blueberries and cinnamon; tagliatelle with mushrooms; pea soup; spaghetti with duck sauce; and gnocchi (potato pasta) with herbs were among first-course offerings.
Second courses included rabbit, a mixed grill of meats, a plate of various mountain cheeses, pork, pheasant with cherries, and stewed chicken with beans. Piol also plopped a large steak onto the fireplace grill that’s located in the main dining room and cooked it for a guest.
Those with room for dessert could try ice cream, panna cotta with peach sauce, white chocolate mousse, cookies or something that loosely translates as “chocolate salami.”
Like other restaurants that are part of the “slow food” movement, just about everything served is produced locally and organically grown.
Lunch service doesn’t start until 12:30 p.m. If you arrive early (or want to burn off some calories), take a walk to an old mill (Molinetto della Croda) a mile away.
Take time also to check out the good views of the countryside in front of the church located up the hill from Refrontolo’s square.
Antica Osteria Al FornoAddress: Viale degli Alpini 5, Refrontolo, Italy
Directions: It’s an eight-mile drive from the Vittorio Veneto Sud exit off the A27 autostrada. Turn at 270 degrees through each of the two roundabouts and then follow the signs to the town. The restaurant is located in Refrontolo’s main square. From Aviano, take the A28 and then the A27 at Conegliano. It should take just under an hour. It’s not much farther from Vicenza by taking the A4 to the A27. Or take longer by driving various rural roads through the vineyard-covered countryside.
Food: Regional cuisine.
Clientele: Mostly Italians.
Menu: None. Listen to the offerings in Italian.
Costs: Expect to pay about 40 euros for appetizers and first courses for two. Add another 10 euros for desserts or 20 euros for second courses. Visa accepted.
Open: Lunch Wednesday through Sunday and dinner Friday through Sunday.
Web: alforno.it (under construction).