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In Italy — where a bottle of wine on the table is as common as eating utensils — one doesn’t usually go looking for beer.

But a few places are exceptions, and a restaurant a short drive from Aviano Air Base is one of them.

However, unless you’re an aficionado, you might not recognize any of the brands for sale at Birreria Gambrinus Ristorante in Prata di Pordenone. No Coors, Budweisers or even Heinekens here.

The 15 brands on tap and 150 more in bottles come from smaller, lesser-known breweries in Europe or the States, according to Giulano Moras, the restaurant’s manager. Almost all are imported by the company, which also runs a pub in Udine.

“Beer is the specialty,” Moras said.

It’s also an ingredient in several of the pasta dishes currently on the menu. Moras said the menu is in the process of changing, however, and customers should see new options — including steaks – in a few weeks.

Beef is already well represented, with a handful of hamburger options. Several include ingredients such as asparagus and zucchini, not normally seen on U.S. burgers. They’re served Belgian style — with the bread on the side. The patate fritte (french fries) are pretty familiar, though.

The restaurant also offers dozens of pizzas similar to most Italian restaurants in the area and will have several traditional regional dishes available. But it bucks Italian tradition when it comes to the beer.

Most of the brew comes from Belgium, with beer from more than a dozen breweries represented. There are also some from the Hutt Brauerei from the German state of Hessen, two breweries from England and one from the U.S. One-third of a liter of Imperial Stout from the Left Hand Brewing Co. of Colorado costs 5.50 euros. Three-quarters of a liter of Goosinator Doppelbock is 16 euros.

Italy isn’t totally shut out, with five offerings from the Birrificio Menaresta of Lombardy available.

Moras said there’s a beer for all tastes, and he and his staff would happily make recommendations.

Most of those dining — and imbibing — during a recent night were young Italians. Moras said the restaurant does get some American customers who live in the area. He plans to have an English translation of the menu available after it’s revised.

Most of the bottled beers are available to take out, at a 25 percent discount. That would allow a designated driver to sample some along with everyone else once all are back home.

Birreria Gambrinus Ristorante

Location: Prata di Pordenone, Italy

Directions: Prata is south of Pordenone and Autostrada 28. There are multiple ways to reach it from Aviano — through Pordenone, Porcia, Fontanafredda or Sacile. The SP35, which connects Pordenone to Oderzo, runs through the city. The restaurant is just off the main square at Via Martini della Liberta 4.

Hours: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week until the weather gets colder, when hours — or opening days — could change.

Dress: Casual

Clientele: Young Italians, with some Americans who live nearby.

Menu: In Italian only, though there are plans to have an English translation soon.

Food: Dozens of varieties of pizza (4 to 16 euros), several sandwich options (4 to 8.50 euros), unique hamburgers (7 to 10 euros), snacks (2.50 to 4.50 euros) and a soon-to-be-retrofitted menu featuring Italian first and second courses, steaks and other fare.

Drinks: Beer, beer and more beer. There are currently 15 brands on tap and about 150 in bottles. Prices range from 4 euros for 25 centiliters of one Belgian beer to 20 euros for a 1.5-liter bottle of another Belgian. Soft drinks, water and various other alcoholic beverages are also available.

Telephone: 0434-1772216. English spoken.

Reservations: Advised for large parties.

Web site: birreriagambrinus.it (Italian only)

harrisk@estripes.osd.mil

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